Snapshot from the past: Orford Road retail parade

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA In 1908, the London Olympics took place at the White City, the first major suffragette rally was held in London, and Orford Road, Walthamstow in Essex was a thriving place to shop.
Those new to the area and those familiar with the ever-changing face of Orford Road may be interested to know how Orford Road looked at the turn of the 20th century.  There have been shops and businesses on Orford Road since the mid 19th century when it was the heart of old Walthamstow and the earliest records I could find at the Vestry House Museum are listed from 1886.  I was happy to discover that there is almost exactly the same number of active outlets in Orford Road now as over a century ago.

For much of the 20th century, Orford Road was dominated by the Connaught General Hospital which closed in 1977 and demolished to make way for Holmcroft House, the sheltered accommodation between the old Town Hall and Orford Road railway bridge.  At various points over the decades, the Waltham Forest Asian Centre (formerly St. Mary’s National School) housed the Pathology Laboratory, Hayward House (next to the Nag’s Head, now residential) was the Nurses’ Home.  The Outpatients Dept. was at the top of Beulah Road (now the Turning Point social care centre) and the Public Dispensary was at number 35, now also residential.  The old Town Hall became the main entrance for the hospital in 1959.

Looking at local pubs, both the Nag’s Head and the Queen’s Arms date back to the 19th century but newcomers to the area may be surprised to know that The Village pub is a relatively recent addition and through the 1970s and 80s it housed Solmedia, Laboratory Supplies and prior to that an undertaker’s and cabinet maker.

Orford Rd wideshot croppedThe Orford Road Post & Money Order & Telegraph Office & Savings Bank (to give its full title) was listed in 1886 at no. 29 which remained a Post Office until closure in 2008 (with a brief spell being relocated to what is now Spar in the early 1900s).  A wool shop owned firstly by the Misses Coleman and then Mrs. Bessie Lindley was in the adjacent shop to the Post Office at 29a through the 1950s (good to know that we still have a wool and yarn shop in Beulah Road).

Desborough’s the newsagent at no. 61 has held the same name for over fifty years but in an earlier life in 1900 it was a registry office for servants (I would imagine where they registered for work rather than where they got married!).

Frank Ison Ironmongery and Oil Store was established in 1870 and only ceased trading as a hardware shop relatively recently in 2004 with its splendid shop sign frontage which still lives on.  The bakery (now The Village Bakery) dates back to the 1880s with only a few name changes.  The New Mandarin Chinese take-away was a fishmonger’s through to the 1970s.

The corner of Eden and Orford Roads, site of the Village Square garden was once two shops, nos 43 and 45, formerly a linen draper through the 1900s and in the 1950s a radio and electrical repair shop.  Similarly, on the paved corner opposite the Ancient House, once stood the Ajax Tyre Service.

The Labour Party office at no. 23 started life in 1886 with George Berry, a china and glass dealer followed by a confectioner’s, a watchmaker and a printer.
Penny Fielding’s Gallery and Interiors at no. 34 has been a range of outlets over the years – a draper, a dairy, a cleaner’s, a ladies hairdresser and self-service supermarket.

Below is a ‘snapshot’ of some of the Orford Road outlets in 2014 and over a hundred years ago.
Teresa Deacon

Newsletter Jun 2014 shop table

11 Responses to Snapshot from the past: Orford Road retail parade

  1. Susan McGee says:

    ARNOLD: I researching my mother’s paternal family – many of whom were born or lived or died in the “Walthamstow Village” area back in the mid 1800s. I am particularly interested to learn of Ethel Winifred 1898(last records date her as 3 years) and Gladys Annie 1895 (last records date her as 6). Any information would be much appreciated.

  2. Lynda Chard says:

    My Mum and Dad has a sweet shop at 36 Orford Road in the 1950’s under the name of E.H Blyth. It was opposite opposite Desborough’s. I remember the dancing school run by Monica Andrews further up the road. Barrett’s or Barricks I think who sold wonderful Dicky Bird lollies, the banana ones were the best!. Scotts the bakers on the corner. Lockeys who sold small square vanity cases. Whites, who I think might have been undertakers but not sure. Fields the barbers. A gym at the top of the road in a hall with big green doors run by someone whose first name was Renee. Connaught hospital at the top of the road.

    • Teresa Deacon says:

      Hello Lynda and thanks so much for taking the time to write in about the long-gone shops on Orford Road – I’m always interested to hear from those who lived or have a connection with the area which helps me to piece together the history – I have many gaps! I wonder if the Blyth name you mention was any relation of Charles Blythe (but with an ‘e’) who was a confectioner/newsagent at 92 Beulah Road? Thanks again – much appreciated.

      • Lynda cgard says:

        Hi Teresa, no, no relation to the Blythe you mention, strange though!. There was a greengrocer and cycle shop on our side of the road before the dancing school but I can’t remember the names. There was a dry cleaners next door to us run by a lady I remember as Auntie May and nearer the top of the road was an ewellers, the daughter Susan was in my class at Henry Maynard school.

  3. Paul says:

    This is great. I’d also be interested to be reminded about shops over up to last 30 years. I hope someone has documented the likes of the Thai Lounge, Paul’s and the Indian takeaway.
    I moved here in 1998 and the memory is getting hazy.

  4. Jane says:

    Lynda – The sweet shop run by Rose and Alf Barrick (and they had a daughter Pamela) was known to me – they were lovely people. Can anyone remember the street number of the shop in Orford Road? I went back today after many years – I would love to know where in the street the shop was. I am trying to contact Pam Barrick’s family at the moment.

    • Lynda cgard says:

      Hi Jane, just looked back at this site for no particular reason
      and say your input. I only remember Mr Barrick a very
      nice man. Don’t know the number but it was 2 or 3
      shops up from Eden Road going towards Connaught hospital
      but on the opposite side. Lovely memories. Did you live in the road or

  5. Maggie Whittaker says:

    This is comment/message for Linda Chard. Back in the 60s I used to a dance school in Bruce Grove, Tottenham. It was run by Monica Andrews. I was going there for a while before the school was moved to St. Mary’s Rd, opp the tube station. I started at the dance school when I was seven and left when I was around 15. She used to put on elaborate shows at Lloyds Park. When I was about 22, I worked at the Inland Revenue in Church Hill, and during lunch times I’d walked from where I worked to St Marys Rd. A dance school was still there but it was not run by Miss Andrews. I just wonder what happened to her, if her school was sold on or she moved to somewhere else. I’m a Tottenham girl at heart, but Walthamstow featured a big part in my life.

  6. Teresa Deacon says:

    Hi Maggie, I wrote the original piece on Orford Road shops so thanks for your interesting comments. I can’t give you any info on Miss Andrews but I remember the dance school opposite Walthamstow Central station. I remember the sign which said ‘walk in, dance out’ which used to make me smile. It was sadly demolished a few years ago following a fire and is now a tower block of flats. Perhaps someone else will be able to throw some light on what happened to Miss Andrews’ dance school.

  7. Christine McCrann (Castles) says:

    I too went to Monica Andrews school of dancing from about 1957 until 1969 and loved the lessons there and the festivals and concerts at Lloyds Park. She had a school also in Bruce Grove. I revisited Walthamstow only a few weeks ago and was delighted the house was still there as I remember it in Orford Road, but not the dance school not surprisingly. Very many happy memories.

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