Monday, 11 January 2016

Remembering Mona Road and that newsagent's in the 1950s ......... a story from Chris Taylor

I well remember Mona Road in the mid-1950s.  It was on my daily walk from Lausanne Road (no.7, since demolished), to Edmund Waller Primary School off Dennett's Road and Walsham Road.

The Eagle, 1957
The newsagent or 'paper shop' on the north side of Mona Road was a little over half way along it towards Dennett's Road.  

I don't recall the proprietor's name, but the entrance door was on the left, a large picture window to the right.  

The customer space inside was fairly small with the wooden counter of newspapers running back, on the right, from the window around in an L-shape to the rear.

The interior was not too bright by today's standards.  

As it sold sweets and simple playthings the shop was of course popular with the neighbourhood's schoolchildren.  For example, the “Jubbly” orange drink came in a pyramidal cardboard carton; you tore off one corner to drink from it.  In its optional frozen state, the orange colour drifted to one side, leaving the other as clear ice.  “Luvly Jubbly”.

Among children's fads of the time, were the Scoubidou plastic weaving kits.  

Cap toys
You braided and knotted various coloured strands into attractive combinations and forms.  Good for acquiring hand-eye coordination, dexterity, concentration, colour awareness, creativity and sense of achievement at low cost.  

The shop sold small reels of percussion caps which you would load into your toy sixshooter, or insert individually into the head of a streamlined plastic bomb device.  World War II had only been over ten years.  Health and safety and political correctness had not yet dawned.

Flags of the World on sale at the newsagents
For a while, I was an evening paper boy to earn pocket money.  “The Evening Standard” (tabloid) and “The Evening News” (broadsheet) were the mainstays, with “The Star” (tabloid) somewhat waning.  Elsewhere in town, the typical corner news-vendor's cry was “Star, News, Standard!”

You packed your deliveries in a large linen shoulder bag.  The newsagent didn't mark up each paper, as you carried a listing of addresses on a cardboard sheet in the bag.  Soon, you learnt by heart which house took which paper, where the barking dogs lurked, the awkward letterboxes, the long front paths, the broken gates, the tatty doors and those nicely maintained.  That particular round took me up Telegraph Hill as far as Kitto Road where, now and then, one householder might tip me 6d (sixpence): very nice of them.

Flags of the World, reverse
I didn't deliver Sunday papers, although I remember the “Sunday Pictorial” (later the “Sunday Mirror”), “Sunday Graphic”, News of the World, Sunday Times” and so on.  

I'm sure the newsagent also sold cigarettes such as untipped “Senior Service”, “Weights”, “Woodbines”, etc, and tobacco (e.g. “Old Holborn”) for pipe smokers and those who artfully rolled their own using Rizla cigarette papers (plain or liquorice flavour!) from the colourful packets.

A few doors further along from the paper shop, on the corner of Mona Road and Dennett's Road stood a baker's shop.  As well as the usual bloomers, tin loaves and all the rest, various cakes were sold; my special favourite was their caraway seed (“seedy”) cake.

If memory serves, those were the only two shops in Mona Road; certainly the south side was Victorian terraced houses and much the same on the north side.

Text © Chris Taylor, 2016

Pictures; Dan Dare and the Red Moon Mystery, Eagle Comic, Vol 3 Nu 40 January 11, 1957, from the collection of Andrew Simpson & cards from the Flags of the World  series, circa 1959, courtesy of Flags of the World, cap bombs taken from

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