Shopping on St Helier


By Beverley Walker

J Sainsburys                         

Sainsburys opened a store in 1934 in Wrythe Lane, Rose Hill.
The first manager was W Rosindell. Their advertisements show they are trying to attract the new St. Helier residents by offering bargains in all departments.    

The working man's friend. Everything is better and cheaper.

Photo:Advertising the opening of the new Sainsbury store

Advertising the opening of the new Sainsbury store

The Sainsbury Archive, Museum Of London Docklands

Photo:Sainsbury's advertisement

Sainsbury's advertisement

The Sainsbury Archive, Museum Of London Docklands


This page was added by Beverley Walker on 22/08/2010.
Comments about this page

Sainsburys was a wonderful shop, always cool I would always marvel at how the lady serving the butter, would use the wooden paddles to cut off a pound or half pound from the big slab, and very rarely would they have to add or subtract any, for the correct weight, patting it into shape as good as any machine, across the floor to the bacon, those huge gammon rashers or half rashers, iridescent green or gold depending how it was cured, the back with some streaky left on, or streaky on its own, a great selection of cheese some cut from the round with cheese wire another art in itself.No packaged stuff so you couldn't see what you were getting, meat that had most of the veins taken out. My mouth waters just thinking about it, the only thing I cant remember was how we paid.

By Ted Blowers
On 23/08/2010

My mother favoured, a grocery shop at the Circle, at the far end of the parade, if I recall correctly. Sometime in the 1950's it went self-service, and that took some getting used to. It seems strange now to remember that there was a time when self-service was unheard of. In food shops the customer would stand in front of the counter and ask for each individual item they wanted in succession, and the shop keeper or assistant would fetch each one and put it on the counter in front of the customer. The amount owing would then be calculated and paid over.

By Winifred Tyler
On 13/09/2010

Remember Ralphs in Wrythe Lane ? What a businessman he was. He finished up with three shops along that parade and the housewives loved him because he was one of the first price cutters. I think he was finally bought out by Tesco, but I don't think they did so well after he went. Remember also the barrow boys along there, the police would have a raid every so often and they would pull their barrows to the other side of the road until the police had gone then back again to the best side, what a pantomime.

By Peter Leonard
On 15/03/2011

Looking back, so many things were like a pantomime, Pete! My brief moment of glory in show business was in 1940, when I was persuaded by the National Savings man to stand on a tree stump outside The Rose pub (now a Co-op supermarket) and recite the words from a current poster of the time. It depicted a soldier wearing a steel helmet and his rifle slung over his shoulder. He was shouting, "Come on chaps, we're all in this together. I'll keep the front line safe, if you'll stand firm behind me!" My piping voice was impressively amplified by the R G Jones loudspeaker van. I was awarded a savings book with a stamp in it!

By Bill Mallion
On 20/09/2011

Hello Bill, yes I do remember that wartime campaign. In fact I was cajoled into standing up on the tree stump myself with the microphone, and reading out the slogans. I was so embarrased I don't think I stayed around for long. I can't remember if I got a savings book or not.

By Peter Leonard
On 22/09/2011

took a few seconds and then I remembered- the wonderful tiling around the walls (later a Bejam) as a small child (I couldn't see over the counter) I would wait whilst my mum got her order, served by assistants, and look at the tiles

By sue from Wiltshire
On 24/09/2011

I can remember when a Spitfire was parked outside The Rose off licence. It didn't have wings of course, and was part of a savings scheme. You bought a sixpenny saving stamp which was then stuck onto a large bomb,empty of course, and for that you got a turn of sitting in the pilot's seat for a few seconds. That must have been pre 1944 - so I can honestly say I was in a Spitfire during the war!

By Ray Crawley
On 24/11/2011

Ralphs as I remember had two stores,one at the Circle and one at Rosehill which was run by Phil Ralph of the Ralph brothers, who made his money with broken biscuits. I can remember as a kid Phil Ralph cutting ham on a slicer so fine he could have performed skin grafts. Ralphs sold out to Tesco in the late sixties.The butchers next to Ralphs at the Circle was Dewhurst, like Ralphs now history. Found your site by chance. I lived at Peterborough Road up to I was 25 I am now coming up to sixty. Like Rosehill, the Circle is now a very run down area due to the supermarkets, people moving out of the area and the car which was never to be seen on our street when I was a kid. Great site for us oldies and when you look back over fifty years the UK is still in a mess.

By Terry Broad
On 22/01/2012

I remember my mum going shopping at Ralphs, Rosehill those biscuits were yum yum what about the eggs in a brown paper bag how we used to get them home  was sheer luck.The barrow boys were great they just used to move over and  come back when all was clear I recall them at night in winter with their hurricane lamps on to a small boy it was magic!,,

On 27/01/2015

Does anyone else remember the cockle and whelk man who pulled his huge barrow filled with seafood and salad ingredients around the streets of St. Helier on a Sunday. He used to sell vinegar from a cask too. My favourites were the little brown shrimps. Just had to add a fruit cake and Sunday tea was complete!

By Janice Healy
On 02/02/2015

Yes Janice I do !! My mum would have to have them for Sunday tea about 5.30 so off l would have to troddle, with a bowl , the brown ones were  the best ! Did the barrow used to have steel rims you always knew where he was !!. 

By Roy Marsh
On 23/04/2015

Yes Janice, he  would always come down Welbeck rd at about 9am.  We were never up by then  but one of us had to to get the winkles for tea . They were sold as pints. His terminus was at the Circle outside the Arms. His call sign was ...fresh pio.

By Terry Kates
On 07/01/2016

I was born in 1944 and lived at 22 Sherbourne Crescent, Carshalton. In 1956 I moved to Malling Gardens on the Morden side of the estate. As such I have memories of a number of locations where my family and I would have frequented.  

I can remember my mother taking me to the Circle when I was in a pram/pushchair and visiting a number of shops. There was the sweet shop where you could get 4 liquorice straws for a farthing and a gentleman with ginger hair who sold Smith's Crisps. I can recall the barber shop where I used to scream the place down and the fascination of watching the overhead cash pulley system which they had in the Co-op.

Central to the life of the Circle and the surrounding area was the St. Helier Arms. This was a place where I and my mates would meet on a Thursday evening to discuss where we were going to over the weekend. Friday night could be a visit to the King Alfred public house in Catford and Saturday night at the Croydon Suite or the Orchid, Purley. Every couple of months we would fill the cars up at the Phoenix garage in Sutton and travel down to the Regency Ballroom in Brighton. Sunday night would normally be spent at the Woodstock, Cheam.

My older brother used to visit the back of the Arms Sunday lunchtime after having played football that morning. I remember one sneak visit when I heard a Jazz band playing. The St. Helier Arms was a real community hub at that time.

Talking about 'Jazz', does anybody remember the Magna and Climax jazz bands who used to play at the Red Lion in Sutton and did anyone see the likes of Acker Bilk perform at the 'Crown' Morden?    

Moving to the Morden side of the estate meant that we were more likely to use the shops at the bottom of St. Helier Avenue and to a limited extent some of the shops at Rose Hill.

St. Helier Avenue itself is worth a mention in that it was unique in having a central reservation (dual carriageway) with designated cycle lanes. It was part of a well planned transport infrastructure which served the whole of the estate.

Having moved nearer to Rose Hill, I remember going to the hairdressers just up from the Gaumont cinema to get refills of hair lacquer for my sisters and listening to the juke box located in the Cafe on the St. Helier Avenue side of the flats. There was a wood yard adjacent to Rosehill Park and a cafe at the end of the shops going towards St. Helier Hospital where we would congregate after having had a kickabout on the open spaces opposite the hospital. The hospital itself gave an air of comfort to the community and any party organised by the nursing staff was well worth going to.

Morden town centre became our preferred choice as far as the main shopping was concerned with Sutton and Croydon the places to go for main items such as furniture and bedding etc. Visits to Sutton normally included a visit to Landau's the record shop. I hated the thought of going to Croydon as travelling on the trolleybus always made me feel sick.

All in all, both sides of the estate were blessed with plenty of open spaces, good living conditionsand good transport links. In line with a number of the comments made by other contributors to the site, I retain very pleasant memories of the 20 plus years I spent growing up there.

By Roy Laming
On 07/01/2016

I can remember the whelk man. Jack we called him timber / flowers and then shellfish pushed around on a barrow. My dad bought alot from him. Then sunday nights was shellfish night while dad got ready for the Cottage of Content near gasometer

By carol shorten
On 18/07/2017

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.