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Door to Door Deliveries in the 60s

Published: 3rd January 2008 20:46

By Peter Keat, Manor Court Nostalgia Writer

Whilst lying in bed recently suffering from an attack of ‘flu or something very similar and just as uncomfortable, I lay there and listened to the cars and vans which drove passed he front of the house. This set me to thinking about the vans and home deliveries we had at home in the 1960's, delivery services that are now long gone and things that have been long forgotten.

I know some time back I have mentioned the weekly grocery delivery we had at home from Parry's the Grocers along the Havant Road in Farlington, so I will not talk about that again but I will concentrate on the seemingly endless procession of tradesmen who called at our back door. Incidentally my wife who lived in Roseberry Avenue remembers the local grocer the  Chusan Stores making weekly deliveries to their house.

Firstly, of course, there was the milkman selling everything from milk to orange drinks, eggs, butter, cheese and bread. He was Roy and he came from the Gauntlett and Walkers Dairy and he lived fairly locally in a house opposite St Colmans church. We got on well with him and when I was twelve or so I was allowed to assist on the round on a Saturday morning. There was great competition for this job as it meant that Roy paid you half a crown at the end of the round, that was more than my pocket money was at that time and made me feel very rich.

We always had the same postman, with the same regular relief postie, and again as a kid I got to know these two quite well, I also seem to remember a postal delivery on a Sunday as well. Now who else? The bakers roundsmen. Smith & Vosper, the Co-op and Campion bakers vans patrolled the streets, I think were we Campions although I do know that my late father in law, as a boy, worked as a bakers lad for Smith & Vosper in the 1920's. Strangely as he lived in Copnor and the bakery was also there that his round was Cosham, Drayton and Farlington and he told tales of deliveries in this area back in the days when there were very few houses along the Havant Road apart from the very big privately owned ones and nothing at all beyond Rectory Avenue. All done with a horse and cart of course.  Moving on I remember fishmongers also came to the door but here the name of the supplier does not come to mind and the butcher always had a lad on a bicycle to deliver his wares. Then for those housewives who wanted traditional food the arrival of the Onion Johnny from France with his bicycle loaded with strings and strings of onions and that exotic stuff Garlic, was always an occasion, this is another delivery service that is almost disappeared in this area.

I also remember a gentleman who sold paraffin by the gallon from a large tank housed in the back of an old dilapidated Bedford van. The paraffin was decanted from the tank into a gallon jug and then poured, using a large funnel into the customers paraffin can ready to top up the Valor Heater in the bathroom or wherever. To my mind this was always a rather smelly and very dangerous occupation as the vendor always seamed to be chain smoking with a fag permanently hanging from the corner of his mouth.

Then there was the Corona man with his distinctive triangular shaped flat bed Morris lorry from which he sold such old fashioned favourites as Cherryade, Dandelion and Burdock and Ginger Beer. The Tizer company also had a round I believe but they did not deliver in our area as far as I can remember although I do know that they delivered in Paulsgrove. Our local chemist also delivered as did the florist and on the collections rather than the delivery side who remembers the quarterly visit by the rag and bone man announcing his arrival with the clanging of a hand bell and giving away balloons or goldfish in return for anything your Mum could give him?

Ice Cream deliveries and rounds were common, Walls, Verrechia, Neilsons Lyons Maid and Eldorado (who sold the drink on a stick we all bought during the interval when we visited the cinema), all came round the streets playing their musical chimes trying to tempt us to buy one of their products. Other services, which called at our door come to mind, are the cleaning product and brush salesmen but I have already dealt with them some time ago. One tradesman who visited regularly, but we never see today, was the knife grinder with his specially adapted bicycle with its grindstones and shiny brass fittings. Anything sharpened from knives to lawnmower blades and scissors to shears. One delivery that I cannot forget to mention must be the coalman. I think ours was Barnes and who delivered a regular supply during the winter and also during the summer when the price of the coal was cheaper. If you had a large enough bunker at your house you could almost survive the winter with no further deliveries and I remember my father building a new bunker so that we could get more coal in at summer prices.

Then there was the whole raft of various laundry vans. Chapmans, Brunswick, Sunshine and the Convent of the Cross Laundry Service were four of the best known in the area although there was something that was called Daisy Dampwash. I think this was a service offered by Chapmans, the laundry was washed and wrung but not dried and ironed and was delivered to your door damp and in white bags. This is a service we never used at home so maybe someone out there can fill me in on how it worked.

But these were the days when most families did not have cars and to make a living the tradesmen had to come to you. The Supermarket had not taken off in this country and the corner shop still was just down the road for that item your mother ran out of. These were the days when the delivery men would wear white or brown shop coats with aprons and normally they wore hats or caps and would be there on your doorstep in all weathers. It is strange how the thing has now gone full circle with large companies such as Tesco and Sainsbury's now offering a home delivery service.

One group I have not mentioned were smartly uniformed and rode bright red BSA Bantam motor bikes and these were the Post Office Telegram boys. They carried their messages in leather pouches held on their uniform belts and were regarded by many as the harbingers of bad news. 

No look at deliveries would be complete without a mention of the green grocer and this must mean the very distinctive style of Madgewicks in the Cosham area. This family company worked in this line for generations and I am sure I am not the only one who can remember the dark blue carts with the gold lettering always pulled by a very patient horse slowly making its way around the streets of Cosham and Highbury.

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