This interesting little item was sent to me by someone who had read one of my Charnwood Street blogs. You may recognise it as a tea caddy spoon, featuring ‘Sam’ and ‘Pete’ who appeared in adverts for the local grocers Worthington’s Cash Stores – wearing white jackets, aprons and hats, alongside the slogan ‘Let Worthington’s feed you’. They were based on two actual employees – Alf Pickering, a warehouseman, and Tom Rainbow, who worked in the company’s office. In one advert in the 1930s they were shown scrubbing a cow, ‘making sure of good wholesome beef for our Beef Sausage – 6d per pound’. On another occasion someone complained about an advert offering ‘Peas, Perfect Peas, Picked from Perfect Pods’ – on the grounds that the company was using the hymn ‘Peace, Perfect Peace’ in a disrespectful way (Leicester Mercury, 12 August, 2013).
Worthington’s was founded in 1891 by Charles T. Worthington, and had a branch not far from Charnwood Street at 256 Humberstone Road. A history of the company* also relates the ‘red letter day’ between the two World Wars when Worthington delivery boys progressed from handcarts to bicycles – although these caused some problems of their own. One boy, Ern West, recalled a close encounter with a horse and cart that caused several hams to fall off the bike and roll down the street, with him in hot pursuit. After retrieving most of them, he took them back to the depot and was told by the manager to ‘wash them in the back of the shop… no more was said about the matter’. Eggs packed in paper bags had to be ‘lifted delicately out of the basket before riding over the bumps’, but sometimes the bikes fell or were blown over when they were parked to make a delivery. Eggs were rationed during World War II, so Harry Johnson, a Worthington’s delivery boy at that time, used to carry them in his pocket for safety – but ‘sometimes came off his bike and found he had a pocket of scrambled eggs’. He also recalled being rewarded with a glass of ginger wine when dropping off the delivery at the Friar Tuck pub in Woodgate on a cold winter’s morning… (Leicester Mercury, 7 February 1998).
The last Worthington’s shop closed in 1966, but people using them in the 1930s remembered them as ‘old style shops with sawdust on the floor and the smell of cheese, tea and biscuits in the air… old-fashioned bacon slicers… ornate carved tills, but mostly… the friendly and courteous manner in which they were served’ (Leicester Mercury, 12 August 2013).
Many thanks to Bramwell Rudd for sending me the spoon.
* Let Worthington’s Feed You: the History Of Worthington’s Cash Stores, by P. Grundy (1997)