Christmas Trade
Eighteen gallons of beer for 18s.; a penny for a packet of five cigarettes; tea 1/2d. lb; a gold watch for for ten shillings; twelve Christmas cards for a penny, these are some of the Christmas prices offered by Southend Traders in the past when all but the grossly overworked shop assistants had a grand time. The festive season in Southend saw great turkey displays outside Garons shops in the High Street and Schofield and Martin’s in Alexandra Street, wonderful animated models of elephants, fire engines, fairy castles, all made of handkerchiefs and towels displayed by Mr Keddie every Christmas. Mr. Wilson provided more Christmas thrills for youngsters with his great model railway displays and in the long, narrow Penny Bazaar the for runner of Marks and Spencers stores – you could get unbelievable bargains for a humble penny. In the High Street between the railway bridge and Tylers Avenue were dozens of street hawkers with their barrows and huge baskets filled with flowers, Christmas toys and fruit all illuminated by blazing oil or carbon flares. There were too, roast chestnut men with their glowing coke fires on barrows twelve hot chestnuts for a penny and those curious hot potato machines which looked something like Stephenson’s “Rocket” but produced delicious baked potatoes which could not be equalled by any home baking. Christmas 1903, Mr Charles Woosnam was selling at his High Street shop, eighteen gallons of pale ale or porter for 18/-. By 1911 the price had gone up by a shilling but ten years later you only got nine gallons of ale 31/- and whisky had reached the alarming cost of 12/3d a bottle! Christmas 1913, you could buy a packet of Ogden’s “Tab” cigarettes five in a packet for one penny. Tea was then ½d a pound; butter 1/- lb and you could buy a big Christmas pudding for 8d. Christmas 1923, the best rump steak was 1/4d a pound and a new Ford touring car cost £195 and a delivery van £180. Smarts offered new bedroom suites at £7.19.6d and a Christmas speciality at Keddies were kid gloves at 1/11 ½d. pair. Mr Holloway extracted your teeth and provided new dentures for £1. Maypole Dairy in the High Street, offered squares of margarine and butter, the deft way in which the assistants sliced off pounds and half pounds with their wooden butter pats? Sometimes they would provide fancy shapes and the shop was noted for their “overweight” margarine if you bought 1lb for a shilling you received another pound free (early type of BOGOF deal). Christmas 1891, Mr J. A. Going’s High Street shop you could get 100 best Whistable oysters in a barrel for 12/-. Best coal was 24/- a ton and kitchen cobbles, 20/-. The Royal Library on Pier Hill sold dolls dressed in silk for a shilling and twelve Christmas cards in a packet for a penny. Going well back to 1881, Mr Howard of Prittlewell sold dinner ale at 36/- a barrel; Mr William Dowsett, also of Prittlewell, would measure you and make a coat for 25/- and the popular price for woollen blankets was 4/11d a pair. In 1873, Professor J. A. Brown of Nelson Street, offered superior harmoniums as Christmas gifts at 4/4d each. Harmoniums of twenty stops in “splendid oak case” cost 45/- each. Mr H. Hassel sold brown beaver overcoats with velvet collars for a guinea and from his pawnbroking department, gold watches from 10/- and silver watches at 7/6d each.
Postcard Decorated Southend High Street
1905 H. Garon’s Meat & Poultry Xmas Show
1958 Decorated Xmas Tree Victoria Circus
1958 Decorated Keddies Store
1954 Decorated Scene Victoria Circus

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