Memories of Charny from Cornwall…

Tricia Todd wrote to me again recently after a chance encounter in the shop near Looe in Cornwall where she works. ‘Of course, we see a number of holidaymakers’, she says:

and I can pick out a Leicestershire accent. Chatting about the football, I mentioned I was a Tigers fan. Well, the next thing, we’re chatting about where we were born, and I mentioned that I lived on Charnwood Street. The gentleman smiled broadly and said his parents ran the chemist shop on the street. Did I remember ‘Hill’s?

Hill's chemist shop at 167 Charnwood Street (Michael Westmoreland)

Hill’s chemist shop at 167 Charnwood Street (Michael Westmoreland)

Certainly I did! My parents bought my sister and me a Brownie 127 camera and case for a Christmas present one year, with a black and white film in the camera. I can’t remember how much it cost to get the films developed, but we were very careful with the shots we took, no instant photos like today! The shop was very dark (to my eyes anyway), but had the most beautiful walnut counters and big blue and green pharmacy bottles along the shelves with strange Latin names written on them in gold lettering.

With Mum running our shop in Farnham Street, and Dad working for Folwell’s, the pork butchers, I went to Nursery school when I was about three and a half years old. A Mrs Haynes was in charge with a couple of nursery nurses. At break time there was a bottle of milk and also fingers of bread that had been dried in an oven, not a rusk, more like a Melba toast. There were no fridges to store the milk, so fine in the winter but not so pleasant in the summer – I still don’t like warm milk. As we couldn’t read we all had a bag, coat hook with a symbol on – mine was an umbrella – and in the afternoon we had to have a nap on the floor with a rug that had your symbol on.

There were toys outside. I think there was a metal horse like a rocking horse, a see-saw, and a paddling pool and sand pit, or am I wishing that? We had a very hot summer, and I am a red head and burn very easily, so Mrs Haynes went to the Co-Op on Melbourne Road and bought some Nivea cream and smothered me in it so I wouldn’t burn. You wouldn’t be allowed to do that today!

There was a library on the corner of Garendon Street.  I would have been about four and loved books, and Dad took me up there. As we got to the steps he bent down and said ‘if they ask you how old you are, say you’re five. I put my arms on the counter and rested there, and of course she asked how old I was. ‘Five’, I said very firmly. ‘Yes I can see that’, she said, looking at my Dad and  knowing full well I wasn’t – but I could have one book and if it was returned in good order she would let me have more. Needless to say I got more books.

Does anybody remember the concert at the De Montfort Hall, when schools from all over the city took part, about 1965/6? There were about 12 children selected from each school. A group of us were called into the hall and ask to sing ‘God save the Queen’, I think, a little worrying at the time as we didn’t know what it was all about. I think it was Miss Armstrong who played the piano, and as we were selected we were told what we would be doing. We had rehearsals with her, and then she had a car accident and we had to go to Melbourne Road school for practice with their part of the choir. We had to walk up there on our own as a teacher couldn’t be spared. I think something was said along the lines of ‘do not misbehave, we will know’ and I think we did behave.

We got together with all the other schools and met the conductor who had already chosen his soloists. The piece I remember most is ‘The Daniel Jazz’, about Daniel in the lions’ den – I can still sing it! The stage felt enormous and with the lights was daunting, but I managed to find Mum in the audience and sang to her. After that, whenever we went to the hall I would casually nod towards the stage and say ‘I’ve sung on there’, and yes, the family got sick and tired of me saying so!

Many thanks Tricia! You can read some of Tricia’s other memories of Charnwood Street at; and Michael Smith’s memories of Hill’s during World War 2 at


8 thoughts on “Memories of Charny from Cornwall…

  1. Great story Tricia. I also sang at De Montfort Hall with my school around the same time. Maybe we even shared the stage!

    • My mother was born and raised on 144 charnwood st. I wish I could get a picture of this addressing I am compiling family history. If anyone gen get me a copy, that would be fantastic. my email address is she was born in 1926′ thank you.

      • There is a photograph of both sides of Charnwood St on the ground floor of Glenfield Hospital, Groby Rd, Leicester near to the hospital shop. I don’t know if this might show the right part of the road for you but it might be worth a try. Also, Leicester University Library also has some old photographs of many parts of Leicester. Hope you have some good luck. Carol

      • Thank you so much for replying to me, however I live in the United States, in the state of South Carolina. My mother met my father during WWll while he was stationed there. She came to America in 1946. I have no way of getting any pictures that you speak of, but thank you so much for your help.
        Jayne Rosa Johansen

      • Hello Jayne
        I’ve recently copied some photos of Charnwood Street. I’ll try to see if that address is visible.
        All best wishes, Carol

  2. i remember hills the chemist he treated my blistered hand after a little deamon banger went off
    has i was \about to through it.being the little monster i was at the time.

  3. memories of edwyn st.i went to st savious school up the bank steps at the top of edwyn street,i had to cross mount road,where sacred heart school i was a prody [Protestant] and they where Caties [Catholics] when we where at school we were rivals.after school we were mates.
    which goes to show things never change.i remember climbing over corner shop back walls and getting the empty pop bottles from the crates and taking the back to get the penny deposit money
    we used to climb over entry walls to get from one street to another,which you could in most terraced streets.we wore boots with steel on the heels so they didn’t wear so quick,on dark nights you could make sparks by scuffing the heels on the many happy memories.

  4. I too was in the ‘nursery’ class at Charnwood St school,( in 1959).
    I certainly didn’t enjoy it at first and can remember my mum virtually dragging me kicking and shouting down Upper Charnwood St to get me there !!
    I remember Mrs Haynes and her assistants and also the ‘rusks’, the milk, and the coconut matting mats we all had to try and sleep on in rows on the floor. I seem to remember we all had a gown- like garment we wore to sleep in and mine had an Oak tree as a motif.
    If the weather was nice we played outside in the playground. There WAS a rocking horse in the nursery . . I remember it.
    School meals were pretty awful at times and to this very day I still can’t stomach Sago or Blancmange !! 😝

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