High Street Shops

Cheshunt High Street

By Nicholas Blatchley

Looking north, c 1905, with Blaxlands on the left
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
Looking north, 1902, showing Taylor the Butcher
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
Shops on the west side, including the Post Office
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
Looking south, with Cadmore Lane on the left. P.J. Andrews was a draper's shop occupying part of Cheshunt House
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
East side, north of Cadmore Lane, c 1959
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies
The Come Again Stores next to the Ship, east side, 1948
Hertfordshire Archives & Local Studies

As with most high streets, Cheshunt High Street was first and foremost for shopping. A considerable number of businesses can be found there in both the 1851 and 1912 Kelly’s Directories, and this remained the case at least up to the 1970s. Since then, it’s been the common story of town centre decline from competition by out-of-town business parks. Most of the shops are still occupied, but only a small proportion by traditional high street businesses.

The 1851 Directory lists 33 businesses that can be described as shops, including two smiths. The census has 43 heads of household who appear to run shops, though it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between retail and wholesale, as well as being sure how many of these actually traded from the High Street.

Grocers are the most common (five of them) followed by four shoemakers. Other businesses included confectioner, baker, ironmonger, draper (the wonderfully named Oliver Death), butcher, tailor, “chemist and druggist”, tallow chandler and fishmonger. There were also two hairdressers, and three individuals described simply as “shopkeeper”. All useful, everyday shops — and, of course, not a take-away in sight.

The picture is similar in 1911, with 42 people who were probably shopkeepers of some kind. For the most part, the businesses were similar ones to 1851, with a couple of notable exceptions. There was, for instance, Frederick Catchpole, a cycle repairer, as well as Winton James Cornish’s Dining Rooms — presumably a restaurant of some stamp.

There seems very little sign of family continuity in the shops between 1851 and 1911, though in some cases businesses may have been seamlessly taken over by assistants and renamed. It’s difficult to be sure how many businesses remained on the same property, because there were no street numbers in 1851.

On the other hand, the 1911 census includes several businesses that I recognise from the 1960s and later, at least two of them in the hands of the same family. Charles Blaxland had a grocer’s shop at number 7, and Blaxland’s Grocery was still trading during my childhood. Also Pointings, the newsagent that delivered our papers, was still at number 21, where Frank Pointing was listed as a newsagent in 1911. I believe I also remember Taylor the Butcher, with its familiar awning outside, at number 35, owned in 1911 by Tuckney Taylor. This is almost certainly the same butcher’s business owned in 1851 by Joseph Taylor.

Frederick James was listed at number 49 as a “pharmaceutical chemist shop-keeper”, and this is the same address as the chemist shop called Catteralls in the 1960s and Punni today. In 1905, the pharmacist had been H. Graham, and it may well have been the same business owned by George Lintern, chemist and druggist, in 1851. There was also in the 1960s a tobacconist/confectioner called Fell’s that had a barber’s shop in the back, at the same address as Edward Jarvis’s hairdressing shop in 1911 and could have been one of the two hairdressing businesses listed in 1851 (William Pawley or George Threader).

Perhaps the most interesting example of continuity is the bakery at number 78. In my childhood, it was called Moorfields (after joint owners Moorhouse and Bexfield) and baked exquisite bread — there were always long queues in the morning. In 1911, the bakery was owned by Ernest James Dyer, and was most likely the bakery owned by Henry Butler in 1851.

The same building had been a bakery owned by Samuel Brookland, who died in 1797. A philanthropist, Brookland donated bread to the Cheshunt Workhouse during his lifetime and provided for the workhouse in his will. The building was demolished in the 1960s as part of a road-widening scheme for the junction of the High Street with Cadmore Lane, to be replaced by one with the same street number but standing further back, which is still a bakers shop.

There were some other businesses I recall from the 1960s that must have been set up later than 1911. Bishop and Cain was an excellent hardware shop on the east side, which only closed a few years ago — the kind of shop where you could describe vaguely what you wanted and they’d know what you meant and where to find it.

There was Bancroft the drapers, Cooks the post office/newsagent, and a confectionery shop simply called The Sweet Shop. The Cooks’ son opened a gents’ outfitter a few doors away called Geoff’s, which only closed down recently. Sharps the fishmonger was located in one of the street’s oldest buildings, number 66, but it had moved from opposite Brookfield Lane, probably where T. Norris had a fishmonger’s shop in 1911, and possibly the same as George Squires’ business in 1851.

Further north, in the part of the High Street most devastated by the planners, I dimly recall the Come-Again Stores and Hancock’s cycle shop on the west side, and a shoe-repairer opposite Brookfield Lane, along with Sharps. I have clearer memories of Whitmans, a newsagent/tobacconist/confectioner on the east side, which stood back from the rest of the buildings. Apparently, it had been built like that in line with a later-abandoned plan to widen the road, and suffered years of being overlooked before it was bulldozed with the rest.

For as long as I remember, certainly, the High Street was secondary to the Old Pond as Cheshunt’s shopping area, but it was significant nonetheless. There are a few “proper” shops left there, but they’re constantly dwindling, being replaced by services or takeaways. But that’s the story of most high streets.

This page was added on 24/09/2014.

Add your comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.

  • I used to work as Saturday and Sunday girl in Pointings Newsagent 1970 to 1972

    By Lynn (04/10/2023)
  • Other shops in High Street were Lettington’s which I believe was a menswear shop. I think it was near to Blaxlands. Also, there was Bancrofts which sold drapery and clothing. P.J. Moore music shop was a magnet for teenagers as it sold records and also sheet music for aspiring pianists. Going south to the Old Pond was Lock & Stone, a toyshop, Wheelers the drapers, Gaze & Garside, a chemist shop with the post office in the back. On the triangle was Bullimores, a sweetshop and a quaint little shoe menders just around the corner. I left Cheshunt in 1965 but can still remember a lot of the shops – Mend-um-wells, Peter Pan, Mary Ray just to name a few. I revisited Cheshunt from Australia some years ago – so disappointed at how it is now.

    By Susan Morris (06/03/2022)
  • Hi Linda. Was that the shop that had the barber behind it? I remember both the shop and the barber very well in the early 60s.

    It would be great to see your photos. Are you able to upload them to the site?

    By Nicholas Blatchley (04/03/2021)
  • Hi in 1959 I lived at 5 High Street Cheshunt. It was R.A. Press, confectioners and tobacconists I do have a photo. We sold Wall’s ice cream and R.Whites fizzy drinks.

    By Linda Press (04/03/2021)
  • Hi. Neil. The five grocers referred to the 1850s, but I’ve checked back in the information I got from the 1911 census, and there was a greengrocer called William Brooks & Sons at number 53. That seems to have been a bit further up, though – almost opposite Cadmore Lane and very close to the Woolpack. At the moment, of course, I can’t go into the County Archives to see if there’s any more information or any photos available.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (21/01/2021)
  • Reference is made to 5 Grocers. I believe one of them was owned/run by the Brooks family (lived Cadmore Lane) circa 1925. As a child I was told their shop was located in the gap where Symonds Engineering car park access from the High Street was located. The shop building was destroyed by a bomb in WW2? and the business folded. I have no idea what the shop was called but there are historical pictures showing the building (in the distance) with retractable awnings – one possibly this Grocers.

    By Neil Allen (21/01/2021)
  • Yes, I do remember that. I believe his name was Grimwood (or something similar) and he was the butcher at what was later Dewhurst, although I’m not sure if it was then. As far as I remember, he was murdered by his assistant for the takings in the till. I was fairly young, so I probably didn’t hear all the details.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (29/12/2020)
  • We lived in Cheshunt in the 60’s – I was talking to my mum yesterday – does anybody remember anything about a murder – something to do with the butchers??

    By Sue Pearce (29/12/2020)
  • Does anyone know the name of the people who ran the toy shop – I remember visiting there in 1961, and being told that they were very good friends of my father’s, who had just recently passed away. Racking my brain to remember who the lovely couple were.

    By Jane Dyer (24/11/2020)
  • Brilliant account of Cheshunt High Street. Didn’t see “John Bull” mentioned. A strange little shop by an ally way just north of Blaxlands. It was bicycle repairs and sold light bulbs and batteries. He always tested bulbs and batteries before they left the shop. He was always scruffy and covered in oil. In the late fifties I hated the shop and it scared me but I loved watching the bulbs light up!

    Blaxlands was the grocer. Mum would leave my brother in his pram outside and I’d be allowed in to sit on a chair by the counter and ‘be good’. Everything sold from behind the counter. A very dark premises but friendly. Cheese and bacon came from the Co op which was south of Blindmans Lane. Mum would go into the store at the back to view the side of bacon before allowing the manager to slice bacon on the red slicing machine. Similarly,cheese was also checked before purchase.

    Taylor’s the butcher was our source of meat and yet again Mum would ask to see all sides of the meat before purchase,so embarrassing! The PO and toy shop was on the left hand side north of Blaxlands. A weekly visit to pay the paper bill was great fun as we got to see toys we could never afford. At a later stage the PO moved to a new building just by Cadmore Lane. I too, remember Moorfields the baker. Being allowed to chose a “cheese cake” on Saturday morning. It was a pastry base with some sort of sponge covered in white icing and finished with curls of coconut. I have no idea why it was called cheese cake!

    Cheshunt was a proper village back then. We all knew each other and it was a safe place to live. I returned in 2012 and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. So very very ☹️

    By Maggie Jenkins (13/05/2020)
  • Thank you Nicholas. That is really helpful. Anna

    By Anna (26/10/2018)
  • Hi, Anna. Yes, I remember Cheshunt Stores. It was a small arcade of shops – I believe next to Sharpes the fish shop. It was a little later, perhaps late 60s/early 70s. I don’t really remember any of the individual businesses, but it’s quite possible Morgan’s was one.

    By Nicholas Blatchley (24/10/2018)
  • I don’t know where it was but it might have been part of a larger shop called Cheshunt Stores. Does that ring any bells? Maybe a concession in a department store?

    By Anna (19/10/2018)
  • Hi Anna. No, I don’t remember Morgan’s & Co. Do you recall roughly where in the High Street it was?

    By Nicholas Blatchley (17/10/2018)
  • Hi. Can anyone recall a draper and haberdashery called Morgan’s and Co? Probably 1950s onward

    By Anna (15/10/2018)
  • Bishop & Cain – sent there aged about ten to get some screws for my father. Walked from Greenwood Avenue via my junior school (St Mary’s) and probably took at least half an hour each way. Trouble is the screws required were a “funny” size and man behind counter didn’t believe me – I was a girl of course. So back home to tell father, who was not pleased, and we went all the way back, I repeated the request and man behind counter served us. No idea what father said, but though he would never have sworn, I doubt it was kind words!

    By J Kay (18/09/2018)
  • Payne and Hillman sweet shop and a jeweller or watch shop near there in cheshunt high street. My father brought me my first watch there a timex watch. In about 1955. My father on a Saturday night would go to Payne and Hillman to buy sweets.

    By Alan Boswell (25/03/2018)