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Nell Tolley - Shopping in Exwick

In the nineteen thirties and forties, Old Exwick was much better served by shops than it is now, and shopping itself was very different.

There were two shops on Exwick Hill, one we half way up and the window is still there to remind us that it was a shop. This was owned by Mr and Mrs Hurford and we very basic, selling sweets, cigarettes, matches, potatoes etc, and when I was very small, and I only lived three doors away, that was where I went to spend any pennies I was given for sweets - they were still available as rationing of sweets and sugar didn't come about until the war. There were sherbet dabs, liquorice strings, and dolly mixtures and you could get quite a few for an o1d penny and they were handed to you in a small triangular paper bag.

Larger items were weighed and sold in pounds or ounces. For those who don't remember, a penny could be divided into four farthings and for a farthing you could have a bag of broken biscuits.

Post Office

Further down the hill was the Post Office and shop owned by Mr and Mrs Cleal - it is the mock tudor building right at the bottom of Exwick Hill and had among it's previous lives been a Bakers shop, the bread having been baked on the premises.

I have also heard that in times gone by, someone's oven wasn't big enough for a Christmas joint or turkey the baker would, when the bread had finished baking put these things into his oven for a charge of course.

In the shop was a long counter with enormous scales and heavy brass weights as most things had to be weighed out especially when rationing arrived. Sugar and dried fruit all came in large boxes then scooped out onto the scales and put into blue bags. Biscuits arrived in large tins and again were weighed and put into bags.

Nothing was pre packed, not even the butter and cooking fats, and the cheeses came whole - they were the size of a drum and had to have the muslin removed before it could be cut with a cheese wire, it would take all day for me to enlarge on all this, suffice to say that we could get almost everything we needed for our everyday needs from these two shops.

There were also deliveries from other people such as be fishmonger and greengrocer, although we had a resident who had a greengrocers stall in the local market and most people here grew their own veg or Knew someone who did.

Milk and eggs were no problem as we were surrounded by farms all of which were prepared to sell their produce.

Exwick's Chippy

Meat we went to town for, although I expect some people had it delivered, although when rationing came most of us supplemented our menu with rabbit which could be caught in the fields around Exwick. There were still shops further down where they are now, the Chip Shop I seem to feel has always been there and a grocers next door, and across be street two other shops, they are now a large house, one of them we a dairy belonging to a Mrs Lock and she also sold ice cream. There was also an man on a bicycle with an ice cream box who came round ringing his bell, for us to go and buy. I think there was more fun in shopping in the old way than pushing a trolley round a Supermarket but l'm sure today's housewives won't agree with me.
Nell Tolley

© 2011 Nell Tolley

These memories of Nell Tolley were originally published in the Guinness Newsletter and is reproduced with the permission of the author.

Leslie Travender, the framer and his wife.The fish and chip shop described by Nell is to the right.Leslie Travender, the framer and his wife.Exwick's Post Office was in the corner building.

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