By Teresa Deacon
One such response was from the daughter-in-law of Pearl and Victor Twomey who kept Pat’s Stores, a grocery shop at 38 Beulah Road (next to Tenby and Penny) from the 1950s. The shop was named after their daughter and served the community for over 30 years with a wide range of groceries, often out of hours when people would knock on the door after the shop had closed wanting an ‘essential’ item. In fact, their ‘open all hours’ policy extended to the wedding day of their son. They only closed for an hour to get to the registry office and then it was business as usual until after the shop had closed to get to the wedding reception. At the turn of the 19th century, No. 38 (Beulah Villa) was a ladies’ school until it became a grocer’s in the early 1900s. It continued as a grocery until the 1980s and converted to a residential property in the 1990s.
The Tuckwell family
I was also fortunate to hear from two members of the Tuckwell family in connection with G.T. Tuckwell, the family-owned butcher’s shop at 57 Beulah Road established in 1885 and which closed in the 1970s. Readers may recall the recent newsletter article about one of the sons, George Thomas Tuckwell who emigrated to New Zealand before the First World War to continue working as a butcher. In 1914 George joined the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces as a Private but sadly died at the Battle of Dardanelles in Gallipoli (Turkey) in 1915 and is buried in Alexandria, Egypt. I spent two interesting mornings with Private Tuckwell’s niece Ann and her husband who still live in Walthamstow and who have an extraordinary collection of Tuckwell family artefacts including a 13 page letter started on 11 April 1915 from Private Tuckwell to his ‘mother and dad’ at 57 Beulah Road. It was to be his last letter and is written from the troopship, SS Itonus, bound for Gallipoli. He lists the amount of kit he and his army mates might have to carry on their backs while being expected to run in the heat. This included an overcoat, balaclava, two pounds of firewood, a cholera belt, emergency rations (not to be touched unless ordered to do so) plus three days’ normal rations, two hundred rounds of ammunition, a rifle, a bayonet and many other items. He describes disembarking in Gallipoli: “Arrived and anchored in a spacious harbour with goodness knows how many warships, a great scene of naval activity what with battleships, cruisers, torpedo destroyers, submarines, mine layers and sweepers, seaplanes, repair ships, in fact every branch of modern naval warfare. The battleship Queen Elizabeth is anchored close by with eight great 15 inch guns ready for action”.
He goes on to describe the feeling of “being a small part of such a great undertaking at this forcing of the Dardanelles which has been the talk of Europe for so long”. The last entry was written on 26 April 1915: “All last night my company were digging trenches in the rain and mud with bullets whizzing all round. Went up to the firing line where our kits were thrown all over the place, only just having what we stand up in. Slept soundly in a dug-out even if the Elizabeth and other warships were sending their screaming shells over our heads. We had won the hill and effected a good landing”. His last sentence remains unfinished, ending “The Australians wouldn’t have suffered so much if their officers had had….”.
We’ll never know what he was going to write as he was fatally wounded on 9 May and died twelve days later. Back in Beulah Road, Private Tuckwell’s father, George Thomas Tuckwell senior died in 1934 and the shop passed to his son Albert (Ann’s father and Private Tuckwell’s brother). Such was his standing in the Beulah Road community that a tribute in the local paper highlighted that he had been the oldest established butcher in Walthamstow for a period of 49 years and the owner of a former five mile record trotting horse named ‘Uncle Bill’ which won him “an unusually handsome silver cup nearly three foot high”. It reported that in order to learn the butchery business, Mr. Tuckwell “used to leave his bed at four in the morning, walk seven miles from Mile End, where he was then living, to Lambeth Walk and be back again before 9.30am to carry out his ordinary daytime work”. It went on to report that when he opened his Beulah Road shop in 1885, “the market place of the town was centred around Beulah Road and the district was little more than a village. Hoe Street was only partly built and there were orchards close to Hoe Street station” (now Walthamstow Central). Ann’s father, Albert Tuckwell, kept the shop for a further 40 years. She remembers Mondays and Thursdays were half days when he would go off to Smithfield Market. Sundays were his only day off which he spent with the family. He fell in love with Ann’s mother, Elsie after seeing her frequent the Beulah Road Fish Bar (now the New Oriental takeaway) and they were married at St. Mary’s Church. They lived above the shop and Ann remembers growing up on Beulah Road: “busy and friendly with so many different shops. Regular table tennis tournaments used to take place between my father and Mr. Horsey, the other butcher at No. 2 Beulah Road”.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2015 edition of “The Village” magazine.