Oldham Historical Research Group

'Oldham Stories'

     'Oldham Stories'
by Mary Dickinson

Corner Shops

I have just been reading about Supermarkets but I wonder how many people remember the old comer shops. There used to be a shop on every street corner and even small houses would be tumed into little shops. People seemed to use the same shop every day, not only to buy things but also to share joys and sorrows with each other.

I specially remember Christmas and New Year at our local comer shop. It was always trimmed with Christmas decorations and on New Year's Day there was a big barrel of oranges outside the door. Every child who went into the shop was allowed to pick an orange out of the barrel. Some children ran from shop to shop getting oranges before the treat stopped at twelve noon. You couldn't do that today with all the stealing and vandalism.

There were a lot of shops on Egerton St. I walked over that street for eleven years when I worked at the Tay mill in Higginshaw. There was a Dork butcher's with Dink and white Digs hanging all round the walls. It was beautiful and clean. We knew there was a slaughterhouse at the back where the pigs were killed and when we were children we would go round and hear them squealing. It made us very sad and we would say a few Hail Marys for them. There were three chip shops and several greengrocers, four confectioners, a clothes shop, a jewellers and a post-office. There was a plumber who sold baths in his shop and a lady called Buckley who taught music in her house. There was also a doctor's surgery. There was an Off-Licence and four pubs, The Egerton End, The Egerton Arms, The Butcher's Arms and the Junction pub at the corner At night all the shops were lit up and you could see Oldham church clock at the market end of the street. I enjoyed my walk home from the mill.

There are no shops on Egerton St. now, apart from a row of new ones right at the end but they are mostly boarded up. That is progress. I suppose most people shop at supermarkets. When I was married and lived in Chadderton we did have a comer shop called Sally's It was a very friendly place and I used to go in nearly every day. One day when I was in the shop a group of children came in buying sweets. One little boy looked very sad, he had no money for sweets I felt sorry for him and gave him the same as the others. His sadness disappeared and he went away quite happily. The next morning I went in the shop again and Sally said, "You know that little boy you bought the sweets for, well he was knocked down and killed last night."
I was very upset but I was so glad I had shown him a little kindness the day before.

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