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. 

Although King George VI had died in February the previous year, Queen Elizabeth II wouldn’t officially be crowned Queen of England until June 2nd 1953. Shopkeepers were given good time to prepare for the big day, so most of them would have looked out the old bunting that had been made especially for VE Day and had been confined to storage since.

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.

Although there were a small number of cafés providing workers with lunches, there were no prime restaurants for evening customers. Food rationing still existed and supermarkets had not yet made their mark. Instead, 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! 


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

howe64@btinternet.com 

020 8943 1513


Percy Chapman and Son

2-4 Colne Road, Twickenham 

Family-run pet shop and garden centre, established in 1886.

Percy Chapman started the business and passed it on to Charles, then Neal and presently ourselves, Gareth and Amanda. We have eight people working with us at the moment.

The business has changed massively. Years ago, we did horse-and-cart deliveries and our main business was mainly chicken food but as times have changed we have moved onto pet foods and predominantly motorised vehicle delivery. Only 10 years ago we took 70% cash and 30% card transactions. Now it is 90% card and 10% cash.

The pandemic was challenging but also rewarding. We were allowed to stay open and had people coming from central London to us so we gained a lot of new customers. At the time we had to limit the number of people in the shop to keep staff and customers safe; we also installed hand-sanitizer stations and a one-way system, which we’ve kept to this day.

We were one of the lucky few to do well out of the pandemic as the stuff we sell was all in demand over lockdown. Pet food, plants, fishing tackle and gas were all in demand for people unable to go anywhere.

Percychapmanandsons.co.uk /
Tel 0208 892 0665 

Sandys Fishmongers

56 King St, Twickenham

Established in 1977.
Business owner: Stuart Sandys 

My father, Ray, was a fishmonger most of his life, working at Mac Fisheries at East Grinstead before going it alone. When a shop on King Street, Twickenham, became available Ray and his amazing straw hat and fantastic sense of humour and service, jumped at the chance to secure it. I started working in the shop with my father when I was 14 and have been here ever since! I now have a team of 12 staff, seven of which are front of house, serving the public seven days a week.

We sell a vast array of fish, seafood, meat, poultry and deli items including wine and cheese. Possibly as a result of the pandemic we have since seen an increase in ‘foodie’ customers who now enjoy cooking at home. To this end our in-house chefs have created recipés and restaurant-quality sauces that can be cooked at home using Sandys as a one-stop-shop for all ingredients.

We’ve also noticed in recent months that customers are looking for less indulgent produce, probably as a result of the cost-of-living crisis. To this end we’ve focused on offering value packs, specifically on our BBQ meat products.

The resurgence in the support for buying from local independent stores is a great phenomenon for us and the public have been very supportive. We feel the individuality and creativity of local independents is being appreciated much as it was in decades past.

And whilst many things have changed over the years, we are proud to say we have retained regulars who have been buying their produce from us for years. We know many of our customers by name and now see their grown-up kids in the shop buying for their own families.

During the pandemic we certainly saw an increased demand for home delivery. To meet this demand we stepped up our delivery team in terms of drivers and administration staff, the latter of which were often there to lend a sympathetic ear as much as co-ordinate logistics.

Often we’d include non-Sandys items from other stores for those who were shielding or isolating and had been let down by bigger food outlets.

Back in the 70s smoked fish such as kippers and mackerel were very popular as was the staple fish, cod. Nowadays people tend to prefer Mediterranean fish varieties with our top sellers being sea bass and bream. Monkfish is also very popular now although in years past, it often replaced scampi and was breaded and deep fried. Today it still represents great value and customers love to make Indian and Thai curries with it as it holds together well when stewed.. Cockles and jellied eels whilst not everyone’s cup of tea, continue to be a firm favourite with the old school crew!

sandysfish.net / Tel: 020 8892 5788

Crusader Travel 

58 Church Street, Twickenham

Family business run by Bruce, Hedda and Shona Lyons.

Crusader was established at 58 Church Street In 1995 by Bruce and Hedda Lyons, previously of Twicker’s World and before that Twickenham Travel, which started at 22 Church Street in 1966 (it’s now Masaniello restaurant).

I think we’re the oldest business in the street, being here since the 60s. I was born above the office in the little flat we had above the shop at No. 22 – my first job being stamping brochures and generally helping out in the shop from my earliest years! 

Mum and Dad were also tour operators and were the first to charter flights to the Red Sea, Sharm, Hurghada and Eilat. My mum also ran many wildlife and wilderness trips and was the first tour operator to take people to the Galapagos Islands.  

My parents had a lot a TV stars, rock stars and generally showbiz clients back then, as my grandpa was a casting director for ATV and also Bruce worked as a theatre agent for many years before he started in travel and therefore they had a lot of connections with that kind of business.

Their travel business was a stone’s throw from Eel Pie Island, which at that time was a mecca for the music business with some big names performing there. Back then there were stories of how some wanted travel for credit and my mum was constantly having to get in the small family car and drive to their homes trying to get them to pay their bills!   

crusadertravel.com / Tel: 020 8744 0474

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

Do you have a story to share about Twickenham’s colourful past, or know a local business with an interesting backstory? We’d love to hear from you. Email us with the details and we may feature it in a future issue of TW Magazines.


Compiled by The Word Sanctum,

Copywriters for small businesses.

thewordsanctum.co.uk

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