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As told to her son, Paul Roberts in 1996
Memories of High Street - about 1905
by Doris Watts


We had our normal meat from Mr. Warren's butcher's shop on the corner of Cromwell Road and Pratt Road. Later I was sent down to Rushden High Street to Wheeler’s who were first class butchers. Another butcher further along the High Street was Eastmans. They also sold high class meat. Neither of these butchers sold frozen or imported meat. The foreign and frozen meat was sold by the 'Home & Colonial' butchers and another butcher at the bottom of Orchard Place, whose name escapes me.

Mrs. Wheeler was a real lady. She sat in the cash cubical and dressed herself in a dark dress with white lace edgings on her neck and round her sleeves. Mr. Wheeler was a nice man. At the back of his shop he ran a soup kitchen. I went down with our tin can, which we always had; it was a hardwearing tin can. I would go to the side of his shop to the back where there was a huge copper full of meat and gravy. On top of which floated lumps of fat meat - I must say that even at my age of 99 years I still cannot eat hot fat meat.

Further along the High Street was Burton's grocery shop. On Saturday nights, late, I would go in for three pennyworth of scrap bacon and always hoped that he would give us a nice piece of bacon. I was small and could just peep over the counter. On Sunday morning the bacon was cooked on the range in the living room. I never wanted the bacon, but always enjoyed rubbing out the frying pan with a piece of bread.

I used to go down to the butcher's shop for a marrowbone. Even at an early age they could not deceive me with another bone. I knew what one looked like and always asked for and got a marrowbone. The marrow that came out of the bone was delicious on toast.

Mum would have a pot on the fire into which everything went with the marrowbone. The top was covered with suet dough. This dough was made with real suet. Mum could make lovely suet pastry. Later when I married, I used the new convenient packet of shredded suet but it never tasted as good as real suet. My husband's Mother would never use anything else but real suet. In my mind’s eye I can see that suet top on the pot on our fire and Mrs. Wheeler's copper of soup with the lumps of meat at the top.

As children Tom, Elsie and myself would be sent across the fields, to Slater's Lodge on the Higham to Bromswold road, for a pennyworth of milk in the tin can. I can remember one day it was bitterly cold and the milk on the top of the can froze. We three enjoyed eating the frozen milk and when we reached home on this occasion we only had half the milk left. When you reached the road there were a small copse of trees and in this copse grew a rose without thorns. The old tin can did good service to our family.

On Saturday nights the Salvation Army would be at the top of College Street and I can always remember Mrs. Bull and her tambourine. When we were about eight years old; with a number of other children, on a Sunday evening early, we would go to the Salvation Army Hut in Rectory Road and into the little back room where we had a service. Our hymns were the simple kind like "Jesus loves me. Yes I know".

At Easter the Salvation Army would be round early. They started in Rectory Road then up Newton Road and along and down Cromwell Road and Queen Street. We girls slept in the front bedroom and we would hear the playing all the way round the street. I remember on one occasion as they passed our house they were playing the hymn "Up from the Grave He rose, with a mighty triumph over his foes". They always ended playing at full blast "He Arose, He Arose". I loved the sound of their hymns.


Paul Roberts 1997
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