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Victoria Street and Worcester Street

In the 1920s, Woolworths in Victoria Street was one of the most popular shops in the town. It was outstanding, everything was good quality and cost just 6 pence or under. They were the cheapest, nothing was over 6 pence. People brought knives, forks, spoons and things like that to build the household utensils up. There was an upstairs and downstairs and at the time there was just one Woolworths in the town, the other one came later. Then across the road was Halfords, the big cycle and motorcycle shop.

Victoria Street in the 1960s. Courtesy of Eardley Lewis.

After Halfords was Timothy Whites and a branch of the Maypole and the old black and white house that’s still on the corner. On the corner of Bell Street was the Barrel pub. Facing Halfords was Woolworths and an old paper and paint shop on the corner of Skinner Street. After Woolworths was Len Walker's shop where they played the gramophone all day. Len would come up and shout "Come on my little wanderers", everyone in the town knew him. He used to have a big sign "No orange boxes sold here". He sold records, gramophones, mouth organs, toy trains, scooters, everybody knew him. A little fella he was.

Then there was Jack Clarks the tobacconist and the Gifford Arms, although then it was called the Dudley Arms. It was always a respectable pub, you could take anyone there, it was always nice and select. On the top corner was Tylers shoe shop, where Burtons used to be.

There was the Star & Garter Hotel. We used to go there dancing, it was very popular. The Vic was also popular for dancing. You used to book your parties there for your works or anything you wanted to organise, for a multiple dance. You would go up the four or five steps into the Star & Garter to the enquiry desk. There were about 22 rooms and at the side was a big entry for the cars and at the back was car cleaning and parking for the Hotel.

Opposite Beatties was Bedford Williams. It had four big windows and sold ladies and gents clothes and haberdashery. It was cheaper than Beatties.

There were shops all along Worcester Street, and the Scala Picture House was near the bottom. It was a big picture house with an arched roof. It faced Church Street and was one of the first to have a musician playing to the audience in the break, a violinist. He was a little Jewish chap with a hunch back, called Loui Rennie. He was a good violinist. On the right-hand side of Church Street was the Tiger pub. It was a death- defying place as there used to be fights, fights and fights galore there. At the bottom was Hancox’s which sold sheds and ladders and things like that.

The old Scala Cinema in Worcester Street.

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