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34 Suffolk Parade (formerly 18 & 19 Suffolk Parade South)
This shop has the distinction of having been in the same trade longer than any other in Suffolk Parade. From at least 1838 it was a grocer's, beginning with Mr G. Lapidge, grocer and tea dealer. He was originally just in the corner shop at number 19 but at some time the two premises were combined.
By 1850 the business had transferred to Mr J.B. Stevens but within 10 years Mr Charles Malvern was the grocer here and remained so until the mid 1880s. He was an agent for The One Wine Company, which claimed to be the only bottlers using Imperial measures (pints and quarts) and for W. & A. Gilbey, Wine Importers and Distillers.
Mr T. Wilkins briefly took over to be replaced in 1887 by Mr C.J. Davies, who was also a wine and beer merchant. The Great Norwood Street Post Office was run from these premises at this time.
From about 1904 this became White's Stores and then, at various times, White Brothers and Edward Charles White, grocers and post office. In April 1909 the shop suffered a fire and the business relocated temporarily into 8 Suffolk Road (now number 5). The fire was discovered by Mr Schwamenkruge next door, at 2 am, who rode to the fire station on his tricycle to raise the alarm. Meanwhile Mr White rushed to the shop from his home in Montpellier Villas to rescue some of his private papers and those associated with the post office. The fire brigade received the alarm at 2.15 am and despatched a first aid hose cart, a ladder cart and the Theobold steamer. By the time they arrived on site the staircase and the whole of the first floor were alight and it took 2 hours to get the fire under control, by which time a large amount of damage estimated at £1,000 had been caused. It was thought that considerable quantity of highly inflammable sugar stored in the basement had added to the conflagration.
Finally, from 1932, a name that many will remember is associated with this property, Allan Whittern. In addition to being a grocer, Mr Whittern ran an old fashioned off-licence selling ales, stout, wines & spirits. The shop had a traditional interior consisting of mahogany counters and staff wearing long white aprons. Allan Whittern ran the business until his death in 1982 and was succeeded by his son, Alan, until the shop closed in December 1991.
Since that time it has been an antiques shop and is now a ladies fashion boutique but some of the interior fittings have been preserved from the days when it was a grocers.
Researcher: Stuart Manton (April 2017)
For more information about the history of the Suffolks click here.
The Old Grocer’s
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