Percy Gundry with his horse-drawn bread van in about 1950
The village shop and local tradesmen
The shop is one of the older buildings in The Street and was originally a bakery. Charles Webb was the baker and grocer, certainly from 1844 to 1871. In April 1871 his son James was missing for four days before being found unconscious in the river at Twyford. He was resuscitated and charged with attempting suicide. Despite that he took over the business from his father for about 20 years. James was unmarried and died in February 1901 so Frederick Pocock became the grocer and baker. There was for a time also a shoemaker’s shop in the village just up the road from the bakery in one of the old houses (number 5) where Aaron Grey was the shoemaker for more than 40 years until at least 1881.
Until 1893 milk was obtained from Chalkpit Farm but this meant a walk to the farm and back every day in all weathers. In 1893 the procurement of a milk cart meant that the milk was delivered along the Street instead. Householders were warned that the milk boy should not be kept waiting or “allured” away from his cart to take milk to the door; they were also expected to have the correct money ready and not require change, and not to ask for more milk than had previously been consumed.
When the Post Office opened in 1895 the authorities decided that it should be at the Club and not the Shop and the Club Committee also decided to sell a few articles of common everyday use from the Post Office, forming an association to carry on the business. It was not intended to interfere with local trade (so presumably stocked those things that the shop didn’t) but to retain any profit that might be made in the village, rather than losing it to the traders who constantly came through the village with their carts. The kind of things that were sold are shown on the trade card produced at the time. This initiative certainly ceased before 1930.
Mr and Mrs Gosling kept the shop by the start of World War 2 and continued to live there through the 1950s and 60s, although the shop ceased to trade for some of this time, reopening in the 1950s. During this period the village was served by a number of visiting tradesmen. Percy Gundry supplied bread with a horse and cart and wet fish was provided by Mr Collins with his motor van. There was even for a period a fish and chip van that called once a week.
For the main grocery shopping it was necessary to go to further afield but Mr Carter who ran the grocer’s shop in Theale High Street would deliver weekly orders, which could be telephoned through to the shop.
The Post Office business was run from the Shop from about 1968 until withdrawal of the service in 2008.
Two postcard views of the shop (on the left) and the street. The one on the left is from a card that was postmarked 1903 so perhaps it is Mrs Pocock and her son Charles at the gate. The one on the right is obviously later, perhaps the 1950s when Mr and Mrs Gosling kept the shop.
© 2019 Richard J Smith