Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Corner shops in Bohemia by Edward Preston

Shop on corner of Clarence Road and Aldborough Road. The original caption states 12, 14, 16 Clarence Road and 1, Aldborough Road. 1948. War damage re

Shop on corner of Clarence Road and Aldborough Road. The original caption states 12, 14, 16 Clarence Road and 1, Aldborough Road. 1948. War damage re

Before the advent of supermarkets and domestic refrigeration, shopping habits were entirely different from what they are today. The average person would buy small quantities of products and visit the local shops much more frequently, sometimes daily. Most districts would have a baker, butcher, chemist, confectioner, fish and chip shop, wet fishmonger, greengrocer, grocer, newsagent, tobacconist; and local dairies were quite common, as well as many other services. There were also what were generally termed ‘corner shops’. Most of them were on street corners although not always, and would stock a variety of goods, such as one would obtain from a ‘convenience store’ today.
In 1900, Bohemia could boast at least six corner shops. These were at:
2, Clarence Road – at that time a corn and coal merchant, but soon to become a general shop.
11, Clarence Road – grocer.
12, Clarence Road – general shop (pictured)
40, Salisbury Road – grocer, later, a general shop.
41, Salisbury Road – Hastings & St Leonards Co-op, but later, a general shop.
12, Tower Road – greengrocer, later a general shop.
These were all, literally, in corner premises. By 1909, another general shop had been added: no. 18, Hornty* Road. This, however, was not on a corner but facing the end of Salisbury Road. No. 11, Clarence Road, adjacent to the North Star PH, only continued to function as a shop until 1936.
By 1958, 12, Tower Road had ceased to be a general shop and became a café. It continued as such, under various owners until the late 1970s/early 1980s. It then became a shop selling haberdashery and theatrical costume materials until very recent times. No. 12, Clarence Road survived until 1959/1960, having been in the same family all that time, and Mr Noble continued to live there after closing the shop. No. 40, Salisbury Road closed about the same time; but no. 41 continued until well into the 1970s, as did no. 18 Hornty*.
In 2009, Bohemia has no corner shops as such, and some, like no. 41 Salisbury Road, have been entirely rebuilt, while others remain virtually unaltered. All the numbers given have remained the same, and are worth a nostalgic glance. However, I wonder how many of us would prefer the freedom to choose from the supermarket shelves, or be served by the corner shop-keeper?
* N.B. At one time, the street name plates at either end of Horntye Road had a variation of spelling: one end was spelt ‘Hornty’ and the other, ‘Horntye’. I imagine the the ‘e’ was added to ensure the correct pronunciation.    
Edward Preston                         

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.