Memories of the Shops in Letchworth

By Linda Mycroft

I am born and raised in Letchworth, and remember many of the shops in  the town..My memories go back to around 1953 approx. I remember going with my mum to old Mr. Beddoes shop in Station Road, to get my dad’s baccy! Old Mr. Beddoe used to glare at me over the counter, and from what I have heard, he glared at all kids! It had a smell I remember to this day. Sweets, tobacco and polish!  There was also Thackers in Leys Avenue who sold tobacco and cigarettes and sweets. Finlays in Leys avenue was a sweet shop too as I recall. I think my fondest memories are of Woolworth, with its floorboards, and tins of broken biscuits. They had a little ice cream kiosk near the door. Christmas time was especially magic in Woolworth when I was little. I used to love to look at all the decorations hanging up on the ceilings. I remember these balls on elastic, filled with sawdust. I think they were decorations. We used to get our fireworks from Underwoods, and that was so exciting! Nowadays the town is nothing like it was…but I will always have my memories of the old days!!!

This page was added on 03/05/2013.

Comments about this page

  • My name judith steward my sister is barbara stallman got 2 brothers vic and Alan they were born in maygroft I was born stoney I left Letchworth 1980 I miss it alot I lived in pimoreavenue went 2 pimore school with Eileen Lowe where is she now then went willamschool til 1974 also my grand parents were blacksmiths at sandy I live at 68pixmoreave. Dont forget if ones no eileenlowe say hi bring tears to my reading all these lovely times stay safe everybody

    By Judith Taylor (22/06/2020)
  • I absolutely loved reading about my old Letchworth, i lived for a while with my grandmother in Rushby Mead, then moved to The Crescent, i attended Hillshott and remember i was always running up the hill trying not to be late, Terry Burdett was on gate duty and never marked me late, thank you Terry, i then attended Pixmore where my best friend Janet Matthews was house captain of her house and i was house captain of Wells and also school captain, Steve Pearce was boys’ captain i remember misses Lake, Carlisle and Register. Mr Boorer was headmaster, I also remember a lot of my fellow students like the super fast runner Jillian Bardell, a great mate Pat Cairns and Olive Wooton who moved to Australia as did i, we played netball together for many years, so many memories am sorry there is no more Pixmore, i would have loved to see some of the boards that hung on the walls. i worked at Spinks for a while and was a member of the Settlement Players with the wonderful Spinks family who were so very kind to me in many ways Barbara and i became good friends, there is so much to talk about i could fill many pages, i did return to Letchworth quite a few years ago and have to sat i was disappointed with how many of the lovely old places had been demolished, i think it’s called progress!!

    By ANN WATLER ( HOLT) (12/05/2020)
  • I absolutely loved reading about my old Letchworth, i lived for a while with my grandmother in Rushby Mead, then moved to The Crescent, i attended Hillshott and remember i was always running up the hill trying not to be late, Terry Burdett was on gate duty and never marked me late, thank you Terry, i then attended Pixmore where my best friend Janet Matthews was house captain of her house and i was house captain of Wells and also school captain, Steve Pearce was boys’ captain i remember misses Lake, Carlisle and Register. Mr Boorer was headmaster, I also remember a lot of my fellow students like the super fast runner Jillian Bardell, a great mate Pat Cairns and Olive Wooton who moved to Australia as did i, we played netball together for many years, so many memories am sorry there is no more Pixmore, i would have loved to see some of the boards that hung on the walls.

    By ANN WATLER ( HOLT) (12/05/2020)
  • My father, a printer, got a job at Garden City Press, so we moved to Letchworth in about 1955. He was given a company house, the first to do so I believe, in Caslon Way on the Grange estate.
    I went to the Grange County Primary, and have very fond memories of that school. Being read to by Mr. Unstead, the headmaster, on Friday afternoons, “Treasure Island, Moonfleet, Kidnapped” etc was wonderful. In class sat next to a girl called Kyra! Passed the 11+ there (given a Phillips Manhattan bike for doing so) and went on to the Grammar, Howard House, form/French master Mr Bradley, where I spent 3 utterly miserable years before leaving to go to Andover, again necessitated by my father’s work.
    Loved the open air pool and the common, both of which I frequented with schoolmates, names I won’t write down, but happy to correspond privately with anyone who remembers that time.
    Munts toy shop at Christmas-need I say more, Triang, Hornby Dublo, Bayko, Meccano, Mamod, Jetex– boy’s heaven!
    The Spirella factory near the station, passed every day to and from the Grammar School.
    The station, with the occasional cop of a Streak or a Peppercorn.
    Gates(?) garage, where, with my father, always an Austin man, we looked at the first Mini. May have that name wrong.
    A shop in the Arcade where I bought a small metal rocket into which you could put caps, throw it in the air and it would come down on its nose with a loud bang, especially satisfying in the echoey Arcade!
    Very mixed memories of Letchworth, but very nostalgic to revive them. Thanks for reading, always happy to correspond further.

    By M. J. Wilkinson (11/03/2020)
  • I was born in 1954 and lived in Pixmore Way with my parents and elder sister. I went to Hillshott and Pixmore schools before we moved away in 1964. I remember the chemist at the bottom of Leys Avenue and in particular the huge glass bottles filled with coloured liquids, going to Candy Corner on Sunday lunch times to buy ice cream which was wrapped in newspaper so it didn’t melt, the open tread stairs in Spinks which used to terrify me, buying a small wooden chair from The Wynd, buying furniture from the Arcade for my doll’s house and going with my father to WH Smith’s on Christmas Eve.

    By Carole Bendelow (30/11/2019)
  • Never thought I’d agree with John Brown but he’s correct … developers ruined Letchworth because planners let them. After tickling the tummies of weak officials the developers pursued cheap and cheerful construction methods to leave us with the carbuncle we have now. I actually laboured on the town centre development site. I no longer live in Letchworth, and each trip back is accompanied by even more disappointment. I can recall similar memories as I’ve read on this page … I’m embittered that so much has been stripped from that uniqueness which was once Letchworth.

    By Ian Kitchiner (09/11/2019)
  • A joy to come across this page, brought back so many memories. I, too was born in Letchworth in 1952. I was born in Pixmore Avenue and lived there with my parents, older brother and sister for some 20 years before moving to the new Jackmans Estate. I attended Hillshott Infants, Pixmore Junior and Willian Schools. Can remember so many of the local shops and stores already mentioned by many of the contributors. Candy Corner, Munts, Wegmullers the Bakers, Cheethams Greengrocers are others. I also recall going to the Countryside Library with my Mum which was right at the top of Leys Avenue next to the Scotch Wool Shop. Now retired and living in Norfolk

    (And yes, P Shinkins, I do remember Medlocks ice cream!)

    Sue McKervey (nee Williams)

    By Sue McKervey (09/09/2019)
  • I lived on Kings Road in Hitchin, I worked at Herts Polymer Products on Works Road as a 17-year old in 1972, for a few months. I worked in the warehouse, I remember Frank, Supervisor as well as Villa who used to borrow money from me on Mondays, as he spent his salary over the weekend. My mum also worked at Herts Polymer products.
    Once turned 18, I worked at Borg Warner for a few months. Then I could afford to go back to study. North Herts college.
    I would like to know more about what happend to Herts Polymer Products and people who worked there.

    By Amrik Parmar (11/08/2019)
  • Born in Dorset and grew up in Letchworth. Went to Grange Estate School and Norton Road.
    Lived on Common View for 8 years and moved to Hallmead until I left, and moved to Pennsylvania United States. I have been here since 1967.
    I still have fond memories of Letchworth. The Commons, the paddling pool, Norton School.

    By Lorraine Banister (17/07/2019)
  • I was born in Hitchin in1945 and grew up in Letcworth.I went to Westbury School and then onto Pixmore Secondary School which no longer exists. I remember growing up at my Grandmothers house at 191 Ickneild Way.It was right opposite the Common.I remember going to the public swimming pool which was four pence to get in,a season ticket was ten bob.After leaving School I worked at Bennetts Garage for a year and then Camco Machinery.I think they are both closed now.After a stint in the Navy I lived in Luton and then in 74 emigrated to the US.I’m now retired and would love to hear from anyone from Letchworth that went to Pixmore in the late fifties.

    By Gary Mazzei (12/06/2019)
  • I enjoyed hearing comments from Wayne Norris who was in the same class with me at Norton Road School. Also the comments from Martin Welsh who I worked with at Ellards (1977-79). My mother used to work at Tillys back in the 1940s. I was wondering if anyone might remember or know anything about the store. I used to live in Toronto CA. and now Pennsylvania

    By Richard Cook (14/05/2019)
  • I was also born in letchworth lived on jack mans place does anybody remember medlocks ice cream or jacks wood we used to walk up letchworth gate to the rocks next to the creamery then we would walk to Willian and walk home across the fields I also remember plenty of orchards and plenty of conker trees on baldock rd by the reck I have so many memories it was a great place to be brought up in

    By P shinkins (07/04/2019)
  • I have very fond memories of Letchworth! I was born in 1949 (in Hitchin actually) and a first 2-3 years were in a flat in Monks Close and then when I was around 4 we moved to a new council house on the Grange Estate (7 Whitehicks). I went to the Grange school, so close that after the first day I could and did walk there alone. I remember getting an impromptu personal lesson from the Headmaster (the later (and now late) famous history scholar RJ Unstead). I vividly remember Mr Gurney who never knew how he impacted my life with his Science Club – I remember the exact day and occasion where his enthusiasm inspired me to become a scientist at age 9. Moved to 12 Lammas Way when my brother Barry came along and my beloved Mum and Dad lived there until Dad passed away 2 years ago

    Luckily made it to grammar school, then the University of Bristol BSc PhD, Post Doc in Chicago and then a 40+ year career with 100 patents and all sorts of experiences, 2 marriages, 3 kids, 1 granddaughter so far. Spent my career mostly in the US but a decade or so with Shell in Amsterdam. Moved back to the U.K. a year ago. Live in the Midlands – would love to connect with any old schoolmates!

    By Brian Goodall (02/03/2019)
  • I was born in letchworth in 1948 I was brought up on jack mans place I went to hill shot infant school then pixmore then Willian I left school when I was 15 got a job as a painter and Dec then I got into butchering I worked at dew hurst for a while after a few years I had several jobs until 1968 I left to move up north I still live there in Whitby on the east coast letchworth was a great place to be brought up in I could Wright a book about it and all the old places

    By Pete shinkins (22/12/2018)
  • I was at Norton Secondary School with John Brown in the early 1960’s although he is older than me.
    Me and my friends Malcolm Dunham, Paul Crossley and John Lafferty lived up on the Grange estate and were also hooligans and always in trouble.
    We used to hang around the town Saturdays and when we were 16 raced around on our Lambretta scooters as “Mods” while John Brown and his buddies created havoc in the town driving around in old Jeeps or Austin Champs throwing eggs at bus queues.
    Earlier at 15, I worked at a Haddows in the Wynd, first as a pedal bike mechanic and then in the motorcycle shop preparing new Vespa and Lambretta scooters for customers and selling spare parts in the shop…I really loved that job.
    Summers were spent at the swimming pool and kissing girls in the Common.
    We moved to the US in 1980 and now live in Rhode Island.
    Great and poignant memories of Letchworth.

    By Hans Deamer (21/08/2018)
  • My dads a butcher shop was in the WYND many years. The Wynd was a fascinating place. His first shop was opposite The Wood Production, which was a junk shop. Then there was Fishy Fur as we called him, selling fresh fish, next shop was Palmers fish and chips. The best chips I’ve ever tasted and very friendly. Just up the road from my dads shop was the Kosha abattoir where each Monday the Rabbi would visit donned in his robes and Wellington to kill the chickens etc. I remember as a kid jumping over the blood which would run down the road after the slaught! Next door to the abattoir Mr Abrahams upholstery business but behind the shop was a stable where a horse was kept. Can’t remember who it belonged to. Other shops were a Wool shop, a Jewellers, Mason the green grocers. It was a community on its own.

    By Jenny Todd (Thompson) (20/08/2018)
  • I was born and bred in Stotfold in 1944, but I spent the majority of my working life working for various Letchworth Firms, J.T.Stanton Works Road, John Sutcliffe Timber Birds Hill, R.A.Brand and Co which later became Brand Coatings.

    Yes and all of the shops mentioned by others I remember well, I later formed Castle’s Taxi’s based in firstly Stotfold and the Hitchin, I moved away from the area and now live in Southport on the North West Coast

    By Les Castle (26/07/2018)
  • Well said John Brown !

    By Paul Ross (15/06/2018)
  • As l remember there were several really nice shoe shops n the two main Streets. A friend asked me if l could recall a flower shop at the bottom of Leys Avenue called The Bower. I don’t but maybe one of you does. The shop that sold wool l don’t remember it’s name but my Mums friend Doreen Marshall worked there. Candy Corner of course was always busy. Hartleys at the top of Leys Ave, in the Arcade and in Station Road too. Lots of us had a club card and saved to buy our first dinner sets etc. I still have a Denby coffee pot l bought in 1968.

    By Sue summerfield (10/05/2018)
  • My dad used to work at Jones cranes and my grandad and mum used to work eastern electricity

    By Jean (21/01/2018)
  • Moved with my family from London to our “piece of heaven” in Letchworth in 1965(?). Now living in the USA for 44 years, Letchworth still holds a huge place in my heart! Thank you for the memories.

    By Carol Turner (nee Summers) (25/12/2017)
  • I was born in Letchworth in 1947. I went first to Westbury Junior School and then to Norton Road Secondary School. I loved all of it even though i was a little bit of a mischeif. My sadness comes when the Letchworth Heritage Foundation and it’s predecessors destroyed our lovely town by knocking down the first and rather grand and first purpose built cinema in the country, The Palace Cinema. Further destruction followed with the demolition of our Cottage Fire Station, the art deco Dickinson and Adams car showroom, the demolition of the whole of Commerce Avenue, the whole of Commerce Lane, all the cottages on the north side of Gernon Road. This destruction continued with the demolition of The Garden City Hotel the two shops which are now the new Premier Inn. We must not forget the other buildings and also the rather grand factory facades of Krin and Ley, Jones Cranes the Water Works, The Electrity building etc. etc. When I want to extend my house The Heritage Foundation won’t let me!!!! Ebenezer Howard would be turning in his grave right now at the way the awful Letchworth Heritage Foundation treats it’s residents with a fist of iron. I and many of my social and old school friends are not happy in the town but this where we were born so we stay.

    By John Brown (11/11/2017)
  • I was born in Letchworth in 1951 in Balmoral House opposite the paddling pool. My family had the front ground floor flat. At the time the building was owned or perhaps leased by Cooper Stewarts where Dad worked.

    Someone commented that only one record shop but there was another one in the Arcade. Also remember the Hobby Shop.

    We are having debate as to who occupied the shop where Nationwide Building Society is. I know the Bedfordshire Building Society were there but recall a ladies clothes shop or drapers. My sister says Co op and she worked for them in early 60s but an elderly friend says no, it was another owner of a drapers.

    By Roger Bradshaw (26/10/2017)
  • Loved reading these memories and I too have a memory, since My name is Wayne Norris, my Dad owed Norris Tyre and Battery Service(later to be called Central tyres with Orange vans). Plus Grand dad owned Auto Supplies in Commerce Avenue- now the a shopping parade .
    I use to go down to the swimming pool every year, since we lived in Hawthorn hill and our back gate opened into the common and the pool was only minutes away. I used to have and take the BIG Tractor inner tube there and always being told by Bill the poll warden to ‘Take it out Norris!!’ when it got busy. lol!!!
    Oh also always used to take our two Red setter dogs up the town – to pose really , as they did not really like being on the lead. Loved going to Saint Thomas church ( in Bedford Road) Disco on a Friday and UV sounds on Saturdays, then there was the Leys youth club on Mondays- got to see Mongo Jerry with his now truly one hit wonder there.
    So thank you for letting me have a good read.

    By Wayne Norris (14/10/2017)
  • Who remembers the hot summer of ’76 ? Thursday nights down at the Startlight club which was in the precinct close to Sainsbury’s where I had a part time job. I live in the States now, but I love to go back to Letchworth every now and then for a trip down memory lane, to see the outdoor swimming pool, walk around and have lots of flashbacks. I also worked at Ellard Sliding Doors on Works Road later in 70’s. Shops – I also remember Munts, and Spinks. Haddows motor cycle shop in the Wynde. Fine Fare on Leys Avenue. There as a tobacco shop as well opposied the record shop (Lawrences) in the arcade. I bought so many of my records there, still have them and sill listen to them.

    By Martin Welch (13/03/2017)
  • Should think this through further but currently I feel like Methuselah!  Does anyone remember – being a Sunbeam at Elim church, going to the old St Geoerge’s church and being in the Christmas plays, going to the fair at the top of Eastcheap (now the car park), Nicholls “department store”, Moss’s (my Gt Gt Uncle was manager), and especially when Commerce Lane/Avenue was a right of way, ie why do they now shut it at night and was legislation ever legitimacy passed?  Many many more memories, just need my brain to be jolted…!!

    By Pearl Townsend (08/08/2015)
  • I think a lot of us born in the 50s will remember the same shops in Letchworth. Also the cinemas and coffee bars. I remember going to the Saturday morning pictures at the Palace…great fun for all!..The café in Notts in Eastcheap did a lovely milk shake! As some others have mentioned, Letchworth had a character in those days,you could get anything in the town. I remember vividly Palmers chip shop down the Wynd…4 pennyworth of chips and some scrumps! MAGIC!

    By linda mycroft (23/07/2015)
  • In my teens (I’m 59 now) I worked in the Coop in Eastcheap after school one day a week, this was for what was then called ‘late night opening’ as some shops had begun opening later one evening a week until 6.30pm / 7pm. When I left Letchworth Grammar School in 1971 I started work in Midland Bank (now HSBC of course) and I remember the introduction of a large machine called a ‘computer’ which revolutionised the banking world. For some reason I remember it was a Burroughs TC500 machine and from that day on customers became account numbers rather than the people they were known as previously. The bank manager knew my father (and most of his brothers) by name. I recall a fabulous toy shop called ‘Munts’ which was in Eastcheap. Notts bakery across the road. There was another record shop called Lawrence’s which was in the Arcade. When I left the bank after 2 years, I actually went to work in Spinks mentioned in an earlier post. Around that time there was comedy programme on TV called ‘Grace Brothers’ and Spinks was so much like this. As all the brothers were Mr Spinks, they were known as Mr Kenneth, Mr Brian and I can’t remember the other one. I remember it as a thriving vibrant place. Also in my teens I  remember going to a regular disco in the Church Rooms in Commerce Avenue. Pressure Drop disco and UV sounds. I seem to think I liked Pressure Drop as it was more reggae orientated which I loved. Loads of memories from Westbury School and Letchworth Grammar. I now live in Upper Caldecote near Biggleswade, but one sister lives in Letchworth and other one in Shefford so none of us far away. 

    By Georgina Howson (nee Gifford) (26/12/2014)
  • I worked in the Downsway Supermarket in Eastcheap which burned down in 1970 or 71, not really sure of the exact date. Also the coffee shop across the road just up from Fine Fare Supermarket and of course David’s Bookshop has been around since the 70s as well and still going strong.

    By Margaret Goodwin (06/05/2014)
  • Carol Minnis, now there’s a name I remember, another from Archers Way I think as I was. There are so many things that could be said about the shops from the good old days from little shops long since gone to the start of the chains starting to move in. However, I don’t remember any empty shops in the ’50s or ’60s, unlike these days. I think the only record shop was ER Stevens in Leys Avenue where you could buy 78s and the tins of needles required to play them, but you could also buy mouth organs and spare strings for the violin which I played in those days, a good all round music shop. And what about Woolcotts confectionery shop in Eastcheap, always a good selection there? Probably the only shop that sold Easter Eggs in those days. I could go on but maybe others might come up with other memories from that era.

    By Dave Thompson (03/07/2013)
  • I was also born and brought up in Letchworth and my memories of the shops are Spinks where my Mum purchased the better quality ‘Ladybird’ clothes for me, and Mosses where you could purchase dry foods loose that were packaged in sugar paper made up into bags whilst you were there. Mosses was eventually taken over by the International Stores and everything started to come already packaged.

    By Carol Gill (nee Minnis) (04/06/2013)

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