In December 1962, the Poole and Dorset Herald reported excitedly on a High Street premises which had been transformed in 10 days from ‘Georgian building to modern pharmacy’. The building was No. 102 (now Scissors and Sue Ryder Care) which up to then had kept its sash windows, pillared portico and balcony with iron railings. The new shop was fitted with thermostatically controlled under floor heating and Scandinavian designed sales display units ‘which make the most of every conceivable inch of space at the same time presenting ample room for shoppers to see at a glance the commodities on display’. Most dramatically, the façade of the building was transformed with the latest display windows.
The chemist was Leslie Miller who had been born in No. 104, High Street, the long established grocer’s and provisions store of W.L. Miller and Sons Ltd. After qualifying at Nottingham University, he had opened a shop at No. 142 High Street in 1935. Now he was about to open his new store at a time of change in retail when self service was just coming in. The new shop was hailed as ‘Poole’s first ultra-modern self-selection chemist’s shop’.
During the conversion work the builders had found the remains of an older building set back from the street with a courtyard in front and there were signs that this earlier building had bow windows. There was also a 15-foot well as one of the builders unexpectedly discovered when he removed a stone slab. This was subsequently filled with concrete.
So what was previously on the site of Nos. 102 and 104? In the mid 17th century this was just about as far as the buildings extended on this side of the road and there was a triangular piece of open ground at the corner of High Street and Hill Street, the site now occupied by the old bank building. As maps show, this open space was still there 100 years later in the 1750s and ’60s, laid out as a garden. Some lists of High Street residents exist from the 18th century and we know some of the people who lived in this area. Tantalisingly, it is impossible to tie people in with particular premises. Perhaps one of the properties was Mr Sutton’s house and bakery or the home of Richard Score, yeoman. Other people living close by were Samuel Clarke, Michael Cavenaugh, merchant Martin Wadham and Samuel Bowden who was a tallow chandler. The garden on the corner might have been the one known as ‘Common Garden’.
The first definite information I’ve found is from Pigot’s 1823 directory of Poole which lists John Durrant, attorney at what later became No. 102. He continued in business there until at least 1851. Meanwhile, Thomas Henry Palk, grocer and dealer in British wines, set up business in No. 104. In the 1850s, Joseph Hawkes, shoemaker employed 7 men and a boy here, before he moved his business across the street. By 1861, the 2 properties were occupied by 2 women, Ann Bloomfield and Elizabeth Habgood, a carpenter’s widow. Elizabeth’s son, George later set up as a cabinet maker, picture frame maker, undertaker and upholsterer in No. 104.
In the late 1800s, part of the garden on the corner was built on and Tom Hare Harris had a grocer’s and provision store there. No. 102 became the offices of T. G. Wheatley, auctioneer and house and estate agent and T. H. Harris, grocer and provision dealer, had his shop at No. 104. By 1901, William L. Miller had taken over the grocery shop at 104, living there with his wife Rose and five children. Wheatley’s and Miller’s were to continue in business in the neighbouring properties for the next 60 years. Meanwhile No. 106 on the corner became the Borough Furnishing Stores advertised as ‘Upholsterers, cabinet makers, house furnishers, undertakers and dealers in antique furniture’. Later it became the the London Joint City and Midland bank Ltd, and in 1924, the present bank building was constructed, filling the (and mirroring the shape of) the whole corner plot.
Under Francis G. Wheatley who was a qualified accountant, the business at 102 gradually extended its range of services to include acting as insurance agents, surveyors and hotel valuers. became the registered office for various companies including the Dorset Perfumery Co. Ltd. and the Dorset Iron Foundry Ltd. There was also the Poole Incorporated Chamber of Commerce and the Poole Harbour and District Improvement Society Ltd. Wheatley’s finally left the premises in the early 1960s ready for its transformation in 1963. Miller’s grocery store was still going well into the 1970s.
Today there are probably no traces left of the Scandinavian designed display cases at number 102 but the modern shop windows remain. No. 104 is now Monicafe and the Midland Bank Building has been empty for many years.