Celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

In the year Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her platinum jubilee, we discover the stories behind several of our long-standing businesses with a few anniversaries under their belt, and local historian Ken Howe rolls back the years to reflect on how our high streets looked in 1953, the year of her coronation. 

The shopkeepers of Teddington were preparing for the big day of 2 June when Queen Elizabeth II would officially be crowned Queen of England. King George VI had died in February the previous year and so they were given good time to prepare.

The whole ethos of shopping was very different in 1953. The working week was 5½ days with a half-day on Wednesday and shops closed on Sundays other than newsagents and some food shops. Public Houses were different and were open much as today but enjoyed a break after the lunch hour session until early evening.

Teddington looked very different to the town of today. For a start, there were four banks in town, four car showrooms and several petrol stations, all now a thing of the past. Tescos had recently arrived and only occupied a normal-sized shop space. Its predecessor, Williamsons Ltd, occupied the premises now occupied by Up and Running. Tesco’s current site was occupied by Perring Bros, a popular home furnishings store.

There were four shoe shops in Broad Street, the recently closed Johnsons being the last to go. Supermarkets had not yet made their mark in Teddington. Instead, all shoppers had to visit multiple shops to complete the weekly shop. This would mean going to the butcher, the baker, the grocer, the greengrocer, the fishmonger and so on rather than a single visit to the supermarket. Little wonder that they caught on.

In the High Street, which starts at the top of the bridge, a host of small shops, most of which had survived the war, were looking forward to the first major peacetime event since. Although there were a small number of cafés providing the workers with lunches, there were no prime restaurants for evening customers; in fact, food rationing still existed. Most of these shops looked out the old bunting that had been made especially for VE Day and had been confined to storage since.


Ken Howe is a local historian and author of several books.

howe64@btinternet.com 

020 8943 1513


Teddington Carpet Centre 

13 Broad Street, Teddington

Business owner: Robert Wilks

My dad Leslie Wilks founded the company in 1962. Along with his original partners, he’d been selling carpets, furniture and bedding for 15 years after he finished his service in the RAF in 1947. Some of Les’ original suppliers relaxed their payment terms to help him build up the business – several of those suppliers are still represented in-store today. I took over in 1978 and  believe our success stems from our ability to ensure excellent customer service.

Dad used to stock rolls of heavily patterned stair runners – they used to retail at 35 shillings a yard in old money (about £1.75 nowadays). Memorably the shop featured a heavily patterned lino on the floor – Thames Television asked Dad to lift it up for them because they said it was such a horrible pattern – they wanted to put it on the set of the show Rising Damp for Mr Rigsby’s flat! 

Despite our name, the shop has had to evolve with fashions and market demands over the years and now boasts a wide portfolio of flooring products including laminates, engineered hardwoods, natural floorcoverings, vinyl tiles and much more – I’ve witnessed wholesale change throughout the street during my career and Dad would not recognise the place were he alive today. 

During the pandemic we had to become Covid compliant very quickly in order to continue operating. We implemented a shop-at-home service and key drop access to retain our supply chain and not affect sales, deliveries and installations despite the shop being closed. 

teddingtoncarpets.co.uk / Tel 020 8977 4562

Shambles Restaurant & Winebar

83 High Street, Teddington

Established in 1983 by Franco & Jackie Langella, their children Massimo & Margherita have been at the helm for the last 18 years.

Shambles was originally a wine bar, serving a mix of cuisines, with its sister restaurant and pizzeria ‘Spaghetti Junction’ just down the road at 20-22 High Street. 

When Spaghetti Junction first opened in 1973 there were only one or two other restaurants, the well-loved Peg Woffington Tea Rooms and a few pubs. The High Street was rather quiet back then, it wasn’t the busy, buoyant place we know today. There were barely any trees, very little passing trade and the shops sold just the basic necessities. Happily, though, Spaghetti Junction did become popular with customers – often from Thames 

Television – queuing for tables. In 1982 renovations began for our second business, transforming Stapleton & Sons butchers into today’s premises. We named it ‘Shambles’ after the long history of the building.

Prawns Inferno! This dish was a staple at Spaghetti Junction until it closed in 1997 and then transferred over to Shambles. It’s now been reinvented from the then fashionable 70’s miniature cocktail prawns in garlic butter, to using sweet, succulent, plump tiger prawns cooked in a rich shellfish sauce.

During the first lockdown in 2020. we came up with the idea of opening a ‘pop-up’ shop. The original thinking was to sell things like wine and dried pasta. However, after the staggering amount of support from the community it became a little business in itself and we started to re-stock and prepare fresh products, which we continue to sell online today. It was so heart-warming to see the town getting together and supporting local businesses like ours.

shamblesbar-restaurant.co.uk/

Tel: 020 8977 9398/@shamblesrestaurant 

Playwam Preschool

(St Mary’s Parish Hall, Teddington)

Manager: Jenny Hunt (Early Years Teacher)

Playwam was established in 1969 by a group of parents searching for quality care for their children. The ‘WAM’ stands for ‘Working Association of Mothers’, a not-for-profit pioneering co-operative set up to support local families. Many ‘WAMs’ popped up around the country, but Teddington’ was the original. Formerly based in Clarence Road, we then moved to the St John Ambulance Hall on Park Road before coming to Langham Road.

Originally an informal playgroup with just a few children, Playwam has grown into a thriving pre-school offering high-quality early years education to around 40 families each year. The parent committee are still very involved, but it’s now run by a highly qualified team of seven staff, including teachers and a former nurse. 

When our doors closed for the first lockdown there were tears shed all round. We kept in touch with all our families throughout, recording stories for the children and sending out weekly challenges to complete. When we reopened, we had to change all our routines, but the children coped marvellously and it was wonderful to see them again.

Some of the children who have attended Playwam over the last 50 years have gone on to have families of their own and sent their children to Playwam too. We recently had one former Playwammer come back and complete some work experience with us during her A-Levels!

playwam.org.uk / Tel: 07769 614611 

Callaghan Interiors

203-205 High Street, Hampton Hill

Business owners: Marcus and Suzanne O’Callaghan

We’ve been open 30 years, beginning in a back street of Richmond, then our renowned paint shop in Teddington until finally opening in Hampton Hill. We fell into the kitchen business by accident and worked hard to create the company we have today. Currently we have three designers and several contractors and now our son is taking the lead.

Starting out, there were fewer than four kitchen businesses in our area. This has changed dramatically, so keeping up with trends, products and displays is hugely important, as is our knowledge and experience. We don’t have a price or product list, we work to a customer’s budget, including their ideas to achieve a kitchen they desire.

The pandemic was terrible. Trying to install kitchens already built was difficult and no appointments could be held in the showroom for a whole year. We used Zoom, phone calls and email to keep things on track, the workshop in Twickenham remained open so kitchen production could continue. Returning and regaining momentum was sketchy with further shutdowns, but thanks to the loyalty of those working for us we’re back in business.

It’s incredible to think we have seen 30 years of kitchen trends come and go. Hand-painted traditional designs are fashionable again, the sort of kitchen we made starting out. The biggest change is the technology, with improvements in manufacture goods, eco awareness, water usage and efficiency incorporated in today’s kitchen design whatever the style.

callaghan-interiors.co.uk / Tel 0208 943 433 / Instagram @callaghaninteriors

Other Teddington businesses/clubs who’ve celebrated big birthdays include Coversure, Teddington Hockey Club and Bar Estilo. Look out for their background stories and others in a future issue of TW Magazines.


Compiled by The Word Sanctum,

Copywriters for small businesses.

thewordsanctum.co.uk

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