Judging by the shadows and the activity it must be sometime in the morning.
The manager of John Williams and Sons looks on as his assistant sweeps the pavement in front of the shop and beyond him other shop keepers are laying out their produce.
As yet there are few people about and most of those are on bikes are more than likely out on their first delivery rounds. Most seem oblivious to the camera, except that is for the two by the lampspost who have stopped their conversation to gaze back at the photographer.
Of course the absence of cars is quite striking as are the shop fronts with their tall windows, and painted signs.
What is all the more remarkable is that it is a scene which is more familiar to us than to those who walked the road before 1930.
I had always assumed that the row of shops which included John Williams & Sons had been built sometime soon after the beginning of the 20th century.
The site had originally been occupied by Sutton’s Cottage which was a wattle and daub dwelling and may well have been built in the early 1800s and was demolished in 1891.*
So it was reasonable enough to assume that the plot was built over soon afterwards but not so.
Now I rather think there is a story here. Back in 1895 they are listed as John & Sons with five shops in Didsbury abd Fallowfield which by 1911 had become 11 with John Williams described as managing director and the head office at 400 Dickinson Road.
Later still although I can’t date it is a wonderful advert for the company which advertises their ‘“Dainty, Delightful Delicious Tea, [from] John Williams & Sons limited, “The Suburban Grocers”, [at] 28 Victoria Street Manchester Stockport & Branches’.
So while the shelves groan with tinned produce and between the potted plants are the familiar posters advertising Californian Apricots at 6½d, and Coffee and other things, it is less cluttered, less in your face and far more discreet.
All of which makes me wonder at what our own shop on Beech Road would have been like, but that like the full story of John Williams and Sons will just have to wait.
Location; Beech Road, Chorlton
Picture; from the Lloyd Collection
*Sarah Sutton http://chorltonhistory.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/sarah-sutton-life-lived-out-on-row.html
**32 Beech Road, Wilbraham Road, 211 Upper Chorlton Road.