High Street Memories from Eighty Five Years in Poole by Aubrey Jenkins

I wanted to share some extracts from a memoir we have in the History Centre which is now available to read on www.poolehistory.org.uk

Aubrey Jenkin’s recollections of the High Street are vivid and very interesting, here are some of my favourite snippets:

Thatched Cottage. From the collection of Poole Museum Service

“Shops were now beginning to modernise since the opening of Woolworths who really did set the High Street alight with everything priced at 3d or 6d, old pence of course, and was an immediate success.  It seemed strange not to see the old thatched cottage where Woolworths now stood, but there it was, progress had started.  Woolworths used all sorts of inducements to attract customers.  One of them was sales in which buckets could be bought for sixpence, much to the dismay of ironmongers.  Of course only a few were on sale, but it got customers into the store and that of course was the idea, and once in customers were almost certain to buy something if they couldn’t get a bucket.  Something else was the sale of sheet music for the piano of all the popular songs of the day.  As many households of the day had a piano they sold well.  As an added inducement a lady pianist was employed to play the popular tunes and very efficient she was too, occasionally departing from the music and into her own rendition of the piece with red hot syncopated jazz rhythms which had our feet tapping.  To actually see and hear her with her fingers flying over the keys, body swaying with the rhythm, was quite wonderful, and it was real music played by a real person not something that happens at the touch of a button as it is today.  I remember her quite well with her bobbed hair swinging, the bob cut had just become all the rage amongst girls accompanied by a raising of the hem of the skirt to the knees, much to the delight of the men.”

“There were two upmarket stores that sold many delicacies that were bought by the more affluent among the population.  These were Giffords next to Saint Pauls church, the site now occupied by guess who? MacDonalds, I cannot think of a greater contrast, and then there was Burdens on the corner of Kingland Road, where it joined the High Street.  That would be now about the entrance to the Dolphin shopping centre off the George roundabout.  Burdens were a very old established firm opening in Poole during the 1850’’, I used to love the smell of coffee being ground and roasting in the shop. “

Advert from The Poole and Dorset Herald, December 1928

“Such firms as Montague Burtons; Fifty Shilling Tailors and Marks and Spencer were opening up, and because of this the people were able to buy clothes at reasonable prices. The result was everyone looked smarter and more prosperous; and of course the new premises built by those firms brightened up the High Street.”

“In due course the Hants and Dorset Bus Company as it was then, enlarged their services to cover the whole Borough.  Motor traffic had by now increased enormously and the High Street was a nightmare with traffic going both ways and cars parked both sides of the road, it must have been terrible for the bus drivers.  There was always great excitement on Saturday evenings during the Autumn and Winter, the Bournemouth Echo, as it was then, always published an edition called the “Football Echo”, it was printed on paper slightly tinted yellow.  The paper sellers came rushing down the High Street calling out “Footer Echo” with everyone scrambling to buy one.  Somehow the publishers managed to get all the results printed, it must be remembered there were no floodlights then, the matches had all finished at about 3.30pm.  So there we were, all excited and arguing about the results, usually standing in the middle of the road and being honked at by the cars and buses.  The 1930’s Saturday evening Poole High Street where everybody knew everybody happy days.”

From the collection of Poole Museum Service



About Poole High Street Project

Contact: Jenny Oliver - j.oliver48@btinternet.com
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2 Responses to High Street Memories from Eighty Five Years in Poole by Aubrey Jenkins

  1. Interesting memories and so vividly described. Woolworths was really go ahead which makes their demise seem sad. When you look at the High Street today, it’s hard to imagine two-way traffic. I wonder if anyone else has similar vivid memories of the street? Jenny

  2. Becky says:

    At last! Someone with real expritese gives us the answer. Thanks!

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