This blog is:

This blog is:
A living sketch book for the ideas generated during our Creative Halton Project in 2011. On this blog you will get to see the ideas as they pop up and see where the inspiration has come from. These are the ideas of the artists Beth Barlow and Jason Sheppard, informed by those we have spoken to. It has also grown to include the ideas sent to us by local residents . If you want to contribute please e mail

This blog is not:
A finished product. Many of the ideas here will be tested and seen to be the wrong for the place, time and its people. We hope that the ideas we take forward will be the correct ones, giving Runcorn a taste of its rich past, the positives in its present and notions about its future.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Lost Shops


Doris' was a small shop in Devonshire Square Runcorn. They sold groceries and cooked meat and cheeses.

She made lovely boiled ham sandwiches the best in town, and the best butter was to die for, her cakes used to melt in your mouth.

I think this is the reason I spent most of my hard earned wages in her shop on my dinnertime, I worked at Unsworth's Bros, also on Devonshire Square.

Another attraction at that time was most of the girls from the solicitors went for their dinner too, so it gave us lads from the men's wear shop a chance to chat them up.

In fact my workmate married one of them many years later.

So it was love among the boiled ham, buns, and cream cakes that smiled on him that day.

Doris also owned a ladies dress shop next door to her sandwich shop.

What happened to our corner shops?

What happened to the good old corner shops?

They were real life savers in their day. Many times when our large family didn't have anything left to eat we relied on them.

If it wasn't for the tick these places allowed you, how would lots of families have made ends meet?

In the terrible winters we had then, when travelling was difficult, not everyone had cars, how would we have managed without them?

How many times has the little corner shop helped us out?

Then what do we do? We desert them in droves, all for the sake of a few coppers less on the price at the supermarkets.

Strange few of us feel any pangs of guilt as they close one by one, and are turned back into houses. After all they have done for us!

The best of the corner shopkeepers knew most of their customers by name and sold just about everything.

These open all hours places are now sadly few and far between. People didn't just go in for food, it was the best place to hear the latest gossip or news of what was going on in your neighbourhood.

People cared about each other then and you could leave your backdoor open without fear of anyone nicking your telly, if you were lucky enough to afford one.

I can't help but think how empty our streets look without the good old corner shop.

I remember the orange sign on the outside of the now sadly gone Ivy Street stores, how it used to welcome us up the steep hill, for two ounces of sweets on pocket money day.

The Demise of the English Chippy

When I was young lad, a sixpenny mix, was made up of chips and peas, squashed together and covered in salt and vinegar and was wrapped in old newspaper, it filled many a local child's hungry belly.

Somehow the ink from the newspaper made the chips taste better, I can taste them now!

These days you would be hard pressed to find an English Chippy, why have they all but disappeared?

Maybe there is just too much competition from fast food and Chinese takeaways.

In the old days chip shops had the monopoly and there was very little other fast food.

In my opinion you can't beat the good old fish, chips and mushy peas cooked in the traditional way.

There was certainly less mess then because people were really hungry and glad to be fed it was their main meal.

Maybe we are spoiled for choice and over fed why else would so much food be wasted and thrown on our streets?

Or maybe people had manners then and took their rubbish home?

Whatever the reason, the English Chippy has almost gone and so has the romance of that time, of walking home in the rain holding hands and eating fish and chips the simple pleasures in life magic.

All the Best Chris Darlington.

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