Sunday, 24 April 2016

When we had a piano shop on Beech Road

Sometimes a picture captures a moment which with hindsight allows you to see that things were just about to change.

Here is another of those photographs taken by Tom McGrath in the middle 1980s.

I don’t suppose any of us could have realized that as we walked past the old closed up off license that within a couple of years two out of these three shops would be part of the transformation of Beech Road.

For as long as I can remember Muriel and Richard had run the green grocers in the centre of the parade.

On one side had been the off license which had sold bottled beer since the early years of the 20th century, while on the other the shop had been many things, including in the 50s a grocery store and by the time I washed up here was selling pianos.

But all of that was about to change and Tom’s pictures captures that point of change.  The off license which had struggled on into the 1980s became the Italian deli while the piano shop became a cafe before becoming a series of wine bars and growing its extension.

Only Richard and Muriel’s stayed the course, but were about to have a new and very impressive sign put above the door announcing that they were the Purveyors of fine fruit and vegetables, which they were.  But back in the mid 80s such things just didn’t seem to be done in the same way.

If you wanted fruit and veg, then that is where on Beech Road you went.  Just like if you needed paraffin or the odd nail or screw you went to the ironmongers next to Wilkinson’s the butchers.  Everyone knew them and knew what they sold.

Of course within a few years the old council offices had become the Lead Station, the grocers' beside the barbers' had become Primavera and the Wool Shop was to become Truth.  All of which makes Tom’s picture such a wonderful record of the old Beech Road some of us still remember.  And as if on cue as I was standing outside one of the new shops a couple went past telling their friend about “trendy Beech Road.”

What a lot has changed.

Picture, Beech Road circa 1980s, from the collection of Tom McGrath

1 comment:

  1. License = verb, licence = noun.