More than a bargain in store in the High Street!

Your Memories: Return of an old favourite...Memory Lane

Today we bring back an old favourite at the request of our readers, Memory Lane. Carol Price kicks us off with memories of old Forest Gate and what memories they are.

If you would like us to feature your memories of bygone days, please email them to the Editor, Colin Grainger. Send them to Please send any picture by jpeg. Or you can send them by post to: Colin Grainger, Editor, Newham Recorder, 539, High Road, Ilford, Essex, IG11UD. We will return any pictures.

I remember when I was young there were many local shops where you knew the person who ran the shop and they knew you. They probably knew your family as well.

As a child, it was the local newsagent just a few doors away from where I lived. This was where I bought my sweets and comics and lead farm animals.

They also had a small step ladder against the counter so that small children could pick their own sweets.

Then, as an adult, it was the grocer and greengrocer; these were also local to where I lived and they all knew you by name.

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The grocer always had a chair next to the counter for older people to sit on while they were being served.

They talked about any local news or gossip and, if the person lived on their own, there would always be someone to have a chat to, someone who would inquire about their health and someone who bothered.

As the years have gone by, the local shops have disappeared from the backstreets and I doubt if there are many shops in Woodgrange Road that would really notice if they hadn’t seen someone for a while.

Staff have different shifts and not much time to be able to talk to people.

About 27 years ago a second-hand business opened in one of the small shops near to the Railway Tavern in Forest Gate. After about seven years, it moved to a bigger shop near to Woolworth’s in Woodgrange Road.

It was called B and Js Odds and Ends. The shop was set out with rails of clothes; men’s and women’s from T-shirts to winter coats, all clean and pressed and looking no different from any other high street clothes shop.

They also sold new shoes, films, ornaments and the shelves were stacked with hundreds of books and many other things too numerous to mention.

Above all, these people knew their customers, people could have a chat and discuss any worry they might have often while drinking a cup of tea, but, more importantly, they would be missed if they weren’t seen on their usual day.

On July 27 this shop closed because the family was retiring and there was a sort of farewell party for the customers.

There was a long table covered with a Union flag tablecloth that was full of all kinds of food and various things to drink.

All day different people were coming and going just to say their farewells.

This family and their shop will be missed greatly by lots of people. There will be nowhere to stop off for a laugh and a chat or pass on a bit of gossip, no top class second-hand shop when someone needs to get a good coat when the weather is cold but they don’t have that much money, and nowhere to get a few good books for a couple of pounds.

This shop and the family who owned it had been a part of the high street and this community for a lot of years and I think it is very sad that they will no longer be there.

A community loses so much when the small shops close.

It started in the 60s when backstreet shops and terraces were demolished and replaced with bleak, unfriendly, unsafe, council estates with no shops and the practice still continues today.

At least these people retired with many friends and the satisfaction of knowing that they had served this community well. Service with the personal touch is a very rare thing these days.

Carol Price Suffolk Street Forest Gate

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