Tuesday, January 26, 2010

109 Church Street




In the early twentieth century this was a Confectionary run by a Mrs Ada Lea and subsequently by H. Savage. After the war it was a general corner grocery store in the hands of V. Wheeler. I think his name was Vic Wheeler. His daughter Vicky was about my age I think. I don't recall ever going into this shop or having any reason to do so. It does not appear to have strayed too far from its original purpose after a century.

133 Church Street




A week or so ago I wrote about small dairies in Wolverton operating before WWII. This house/shop on the corner of Church Street and Windsor Street was one of them. The proprietor then was G. Young. After the war it became a general grocery shop operated by G. Whalley. It was not in my recollection ever a busy shop. I think the steps were a barrier of sorts and there was direct competition with Tarrys across the road at 136 Church Street and Wheeler's on the corner of Cambridge Street.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Lost Streets of Wolverton

Finally! After endless editing and corrections the manuscript went off to the printers today. It's a 162 page paperback - 23 x 15cm or 8x6 inches. Colour cover and b&w illustrations inside. I decided in the end that full cover was too much of a luxury and too much of an expense.
The price is £11.53 and equivalent in US and CAN $. It's probably a reasonable price for a non-mass market paperback.
If anyone is interested you can hit the buttons at the left hand side of this blog. Delivery is 3 to 5 days.
Time to open a bottle of red wine!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dairies


There were several small dairies in Wolverton before WWII, but I think that legislation which required that all milk be either pasteurized or tuberculin tested finished off small dairies. The ones that were operating in Wolverton pre-1939 were Reuben Bremeyer (mentioned in the previous post), G Young at 133, Church Street, Maypole Dairy at 18 Stratford Road, and the Co-op Dairy at the back of the West End Grocery on Church Street. At the time I was a boy only the Co-op supplied milk which was delivered each morning on a horse-drawn dray. The delivery was effected by a Mr and Mrs Odell, each dressed in a brown smock, who would place the bottles on the doorstep. The system was that you bought milk tokens from the Co-op and placed them on the doorstep overnight depending on what you wanted that day.
You could still get natural milk in villages and as I remember it was always rich and creamy and far tastier than the pasteurized milk we consumed on a daily basis. There is probably scientific evidence to show that the process does reduce nutrition as well as kill off any pathogens that might lurk in the natural substance. The irony is that it was the growth of industrial dairies that increased the health risks from raw milk and made pastuerization necessary. The small dairies and the farm gate probably offered minimal risk to the local consumer.

The article below illustrates the debate in 1938.

Raw Milk Vs. Pasteurized Milk

From Armchair Science, London (April 1938)
There is no substitute for clean, raw milk as a food, so far as children are concerned. Science has not yet succeeded in providing, in the pasteurized variety, those essential qualities that are the only real foundation for a healthy child.
Unfortunately, many grossly distorted statements are current regarding our milk supply. If we are to believe the protagonists of the Pasteurization-of-all-milk-at-all costs Party, raw milk is as good, or rather as bad, as rat poison-although as the Minister of Agriculture recently stated, "the human race existed long before Pasteur was heard of."
The process of pasteurization was debated in the House of Commons and the suggestion made that no raw milk should be sold for human consumption. This would mean installation of expensive machinery by every supplier, and if it should become compulsory there is little doubt that many small firms would shut down and the business pass in the hands of a few big dealers.
If we are to be compelled to drink pasteurized milk, we should at least understand what pasteurization means. It set out to accomplish two things: Destruction of certain disease-carrying germs and the prevention of souring milk. These results are obtained by keeping the milk at a temperature of 145 degrees to 150 degrees F. for half an hour, at least, and then reducing the temperature to not more than 55 degrees F.
It is undoubtedly beneficial to destroy dangerous germs, but pasteurization does more than this-it kills off harmless and useful germs alike, and by subjecting the milk to high temperatures, destroys some nutritious constituents.
With regards to the prevention of souring; sour raw milk is very widely used. It is given to invalids, being easily digested, laxative in its properties, and not unpleasant to take. But, after pasteurization, the lactic acid bacilli are killed. The milk, in consequence, cannot become sour and quickly decomposes, while undesirable germs multiply very quickly.
Pasteurization's great claim to popularity is the widespread belief, fostered by its supporters, that tuberculosis in children is caused by the harmful germs found in raw milk. Scientists have examined and tested thousands of milk samples, and experiments have been carried out on hundreds of animals in regard to this problem of disease-carrying by milk. But the one vital fact that seems to have been completely missed is that it is CLEAN, raw milk that is wanted. If this can be guaranteed, no other form of food for children can, or should, be allowed to take its place.
Dirty milk, of course, is like any other form of impure food — a definite menace. But Certified Grade A Milk, produced under Government supervision and guaranteed absolutely clean, is available practically all over the country and is the dairy-farmer's answer to the pasteurization zealots.
Recent figures published regarding the spread of tuberculosis by milk show, among other facts, that over a period of five years, during which time 70 children belonging to a special organization received a pint of raw milk daily. One case only of the disease occurred. During a similar period when pasteurized milk had been given, 14 cases were reported.
Besides destroying part of the vitamin C contained in raw milk and encouraging growth of harmful bacteria, pasteurization turns the sugar of milk, known as lactose, into beta-lactose — which is far more soluble and therefore more rapidly absorbed in the system, with the result that the child soon becomes hungry again.
Probably pasteurization's worst offence is that it makes insoluable the major part of the calcium contained in raw milk. This frequently leads to rickets, bad teeth, and nervous troubles, for sufficient calcium content is vital to children; and with the loss of phosphorus also associated with calcium, bone and breain formation suffer serious setbacks.
Pasteurization also destroys 20 percent of the iodine present in raw milk, causes constipation and generally takes from the milk its most vital qualities.
In face of these facts-which are undeniable-what has the Pasteurization Party to say? Instead of compelling dealers to set up expensive machinery for turning raw milk into something that is definitely not what it sets out to be — a nutritious, health giving food — let them pass legislation making the dairy-farmers produce clean, raw milk — that is milk pure to drink with all its constituents unaltered.

Bremeyers

I'm going to take a tour around some corner shops that were pretty fundamental to Wolverton's food economy before the coming of the supermarket.


This house at 115 Windsor Street used to have a glass conservatory at the side, just like ours at 113. You can pretty well see where it used to be because of the new wall and the painted area on the wall. Alice Bremeyer ran her shop out of this area. Her father Reuben (always known as "Pop") ran a dairy here before the war but after that retired from business and left his daughter to run the shop. There were also, I believe, two sons but they had moved on to other things. Alice sold green grocery and most staples and my mother was always popping across the road to buy the odd item. It was very convenient. For any household living to the south of Western Road, namely the Windsor St extension and beyond, this was nearest shop.
Alice soldiered on here until the 1970s. I was told that she decided to pack it in when the government introduced VAT

Thursday, January 14, 2010

39 Cambridge Street



The independent grocer has now been consigned to memory. This house on the corner of Cambridge Street and Aylesbury Street was once a thriving grocery that could support a family quite comfortably. It was my mother's grocer of choice and that of her parents who lived on the Stratford Road.
Cambridge Street was built in the mid 1890s and the first recorded occupant in 1901 was Robert Henderson. He was self-employed as an "Oilman Colour" which I would interpret to mean that he made paint. This may explain why the workshop was built at the back.
By 1907 it was a grocery store operated by Byatt and Hopkins. Later it was Byatt only and he continued there until he retired, possibly about 1951 or 2. It was then taken over by W R Dimmock and continued to thrive. In its later years I am given to understand that it was owned by a Mr Powell who surrendered to the inevitable growth of supermarkets in 1975.
The large plate glass windows facing Cambridge Street have been replaced as have the sash windows above. I don't remember windows on the Aylesbury Street side. With the additional buildings at the back it is now a large residential property.
As a personal footnote to this, my grandfather and his brother, then 16 year old and 17 year old apprentice clerks, lodged next door in 1895 after his father moved away to become Station Master at Leighton Buzzard.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Second Post Office

Some time back I wrote about the first Post Office on Bury Street, operated by the butcher, George Gilling. When those buildings were torn down in the 1850s, the enterprising Charles Aveline put up this first privately built house on the Stratford Road. I believe that the Post Office stayed here until the new General Post Office was opened on Church Street in the 1930s.

This is probably not the best photo to show this, but the first two-story house, Number 6 was the Post Office. It looks as if Aveline built this and what is now 7 and 8 together. In 1861 he was the only resident. The building next, with the slightly different roofline, now 9a and b, was an early grocery store, operated by Abraham Culverhouse.