I’ve always been fascinated by the old corner shop on Wilmot and Ainsley Street, especially as there did seem to be a business in there but they never seemed to be open. I had managed to find the planning application to switch the premises from use as a shop to an office back in 1998, but other than that the current occupier was a mystery. It was a great coincidence that I took a taxi a few months ago and got talking to the driver, it turned out that his brother was the current tenant running a sports shoe business.
During my recent conversations with John Mossell I managed to learn a lot more about the history of the original corner shop. John says:
“The corner shop on 1 Ainsley Street was a fantastic shop, of which many people living on the the estate have many great memories of. It was a combination of a grocers shop and newsagents. and was known for most of my time as ”Phil and Pete’s”. As it was run by a married couple called Peter and Phyllis Hambleton. They were very popular and got on very well with the residents.”
“During the 1970’s supermarket shopping was still a relatively new thing, and families including mine still got lots of their provisions from these shops. There were three main supermarkets you could go to – a Coop store in the section of shops before where the trendy cafe 338 and Peliccis are located. Where the McDonalds is now was a very popular supermarkets called ”Keymarket” that was larger than Tesco at the time.
Up until 1982 Tesco was smaller than it is today and only occupied the small grey building but then expanded with a red brick extension that you see today. Tesco then had two floors, the food section where the entrance is today and above this was a popular clothes and homeware section. ”
“Phyllis and Pete had the corner shop, I think from mid 1960s to moving out to live in Clacton in summer of 1979. The shop was then taken over by a man who already was running a shop and got his step daughter Linda and her partner John to live in and run the shop. Linda and John were also popular and nice but unfortunately business was hit by completion from the two local supermarkets. She closed the shop in December 1983 and moved out. Apart from a brief period after that the shop has remained empty since then.”
The two shops on the ground floor of the flats on Three Colts lane were also very popular. On the left was a newsagent and sweet shop, known to all as Barry’s, that was run by Barry Kirk, the son of the Landlord Tommy Kirk, of the Lamb pub (then became the Sporting Life Pub in late 70s or early 1980) up until the mid 1970s. ”
“The shop on the right was a grocers (can not remember the official name) run by brother and sister team called Emmie and Ernie, and was referred to as ”The Dairy” or sometimes as ”Emmie’s”. I seem to recall that they also had a shop on Brady Street and was run by Emmies husband? I believe the Three Colts Lane shop was in their procession until the late 1980s. Like Phyllis Emmie was particularly a lovely lady, and my parents would buy from there as well, they did lovely sliced meats particularly ham off the bone. Other people recall two shops where two small houses are now located on Wilmot but I do not remember these being shops in my time, however I have a very vague memory that one of those shops became an Indian takeaway for a while in the late 70s/early 80s, they are both now small residential houses/flats.”
Thank you to John for taking the time to share his memories of the Estate. Along with this post my conversations with John also led to this post on the layout and conditions of the flats on Corfield Street in the 1970s, as well as this post about the Greencoats Tenants Association. You can find the Waterlow Estate Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WaterlowEstate/