I’ve just visited Charnwood Primary School – the former Charnwood Street School – and have taken some photos of the building to show how it looks now. As soon as I’ve sorted them out I’ll post them on the blog. In the meantime, here are some memories of Charny from Ray Bland, who used to live in the area.
What do I remember about Charnwood Street? I lived in St Saviours Road next to the church of St Saviours for twelve years from the age of three to the age of fifteen. Charnwood Street was a wonderful street, but at the time I lived there I suppose I just took it for granted, probably thinking that it would always be there. Now that I reflect back on the time I lived there I realise what a great place it was.
First of all, when you mention Charnwood Street to anyone old enough to remember it, the first thing they will say is “that’s where Paddy’s Swag Shop was”. I remember that it sold a wide variety of things, from household goods to toys. My main interest in this shop was the toys – well I was only a little boy at the time, after all. In fact I spent a lot of my pocket money at this shop buying toy soldiers.
I didn’t get much pocket money, but I managed to supplement it by taking empty beer and pop bottles back to the off licence, Hynard Hughes, which was situated at the corner of Charnwood Street and Occupation Road. Occupation Road was nicknamed “Occy Day” but I never knew this until some years later after I had left St. Saviours Road.
There was a shop in Charnwood Street that had piano accordions in the window. This shop belonged to a Mr Francis Wright, who sold accordions and gave lessons too. When I was about 12 years old I started to have accordion lessons at Mr Wright’s, who had by this time moved to University Road and was now called the Leicester School of Music. I kept in touch with him over the years, but sadly he passed away in 1997 at the age of 79. However he did tell me that his shop in Charnwood Street was originally a cobblers owned by his father Fergus Wright. Francis Wright took over the business from his father before going into the music trade. It was him who told me that Occupation Road was nicknamed Occy Day.
I can also remember another music shop in Charnwood Street called Chaplin’s. This sold a variety of musical instruments, sheet music and vinyl records. I bought my first single record from there in 1963 – “I want to hold your hand” by the Beatles, which I still have to this day. I also bought sheet music from Chaplin’s which I have still got. I remember there being two newsagents in Charnwood Street which I believe were both owned by the same people Mr and Mrs Flinders. I spent more of my pocket money at these shops on comics such as Superman, Batman, Roy of the Rovers and the Victor. Sadly I haven’t got any of these comics now, which is a shame! They would probably be worth a bit to a collector as I always kept them in good condition.
It was some time in the mid sixties that second hand shops appeared in Charnwood Street. These sold items such as clothes, bric-a-brac, books, household items, vinyl records and various other items. I seem to remember that there was also a furniture shop, a gents outfitters and a shoe shop in Charnwood Street, but unfortunately I can’t remember their names.
I do remember the Post Office in Charnwood Street as I used to go there on a weekly basis to collect my Grandmothers pension. It was run by a family called Dorrell. The postmaster’s son Paul Dorrell was in the same scout troop and cub pack that I belonged to, and guess what, he always had the best stamp collection when it was time to go for the collector’s badge!
I hope that this adds a bit to the picture of how Charnwood Street used to be.
Many thanks to Ray for his memories. Paul Dorrell has also sent me his memories of the Post Office, his schooldays and other aspects of Charnwood Street, so I’ll be passing them on soon. And if you’d like to know a little more about Francis Wright, see my earlier blog at https://cib2.wordpress.com/2012/10/22/charnys-accordian-teacher/.