Chertsey a shopping Mecca.
The title of this little piece may surprise a lot of people, but in the late 1940’s—I don’t like saying “during or after the war ” because it makes me sound old. So, let us say it is August 1946.
I’m fourteen and I’ve finally left school, and already I’ve had two jobs and am now on my third one. I have money in my pocket to spend as I wish—seven shillings! I feel like a millionaire.
It is Saturday afternoon, I am fighting my way through the crowds up Guildford street, there are so many people out shopping that I have to walk on the road—I kid you not!
Our little town was the best place for miles to do your shopping, we had a real choice of very good shops. Ethel Taylor and her lovely flower and green-crocers shop nest to Bushes Deli where you could but the best ham in town. Woolworths, Boots, Bon Marche The International, and wonderful bakers, and butchers, even a motorbike shop! People would descend upon Chertsey, from places like Staines and Woking.
There was just one thing missing from this wonderland of consumerism, there was a terrible shortage of pub’s—a little joke!
The men have been de-mobbed and have mostly come home, there are plenty of jobs and they had money to spend, new shops started appearing, who remembers when Denny’s came to town with their fancy bread and cakes, soft roll’s overflowing with cream—artificial cream yes— but they looked amazing, and the slices of Angel cake that melted in your mouth.
No longer did we have blended chocolate—a blend of milk and plain chocolate, now it was Cadburys Dairy milk chocolate, even the bread is white instead of a sort of Khaki colour.
This shopping explosion seemed to be here for ever, but I left Chertsey to join the Royal Air Force for my National Service and was away in Egypt for three years. I returned to find that other towns had got their act together and Chertsey now had some stiff competition and never quite recovered. Despite being developed as a commercial centre, some of the old shops still survive, but nowadays you never have to walk in the road because of the crowds.