Wem High Street as it was.

Mrs Ruby Musgrave

Mrs Ruby Musgrave, a resident of Wem for over eighty years, reminisced over the High Street before the war.
Wem has relied on generations of family traders and the High Street shops changed very little from before the first world war to the sixties and seventies. Between the wars, walking from the now Wem Book Shop, along the High Street to the Maypole Corner you could have browsed in over thirty shop premises and buy all your clothes and household needs. Shops I'm sure you'll remember were Ridgeways, bakers; Misses Hopes, haberdashers; Miss Burrows, china; Tudors, bakers; Kynastons, hardware. Across the street, Rutters bakers, further down Rutters butchers, Moss's cycles, Hiltons shoes. Then Dawes and Heath, pork butchers; Butlers, men's outfitters; Bowens, ladies fashion and much more! Jones, fruit and veg.; Lees, high class grocers; Griffiths, drapers; Mrs Rowlands, sweets; Sands, grocers; Johnson's butchers, Morgans chemist, Ikins, milliners and corsets; Eatons outfitters, Obertelli fish and chips, plus ice cream! Also Morris drapers, Hidens paper shop and many other small shops were just off the High Street.
You could mend your clocks, your shoes and tinware. There were, farm supplies, animal feeds, coal merchants, stone masons, blacksmiths, and funeral directors. The markets were for cheese, and local fresh produce. The Smithfield sold your cattle, or your Christmas geese. The brewery and wood yards along with the mill and maltsters were industries in the centre of the town. The railway station played an important role in the town, as did the banks, and post office. The clubs and societies that put on shows, carnivals and organised events. Churches of most denominations and schools. Last but certainly not, the least, were the number of public houses that Wem maintained. Some of the shops she described conjured up wonderful pictures. Morgans the chemist, with high glass counters, wooden drawers with medicinal names. Tall glass car-boys with coloured liquids and jars with lotions and potions. Sands, with it's beautiful wreathes and Christmas displays of tangerines in silver paper, nuts, dates and figs. Mrs Rowlands sweet shop where your mouth would drool over, aniseed balls, sugar mice, pigs and Christmas trees. Marzipan coloured balls that you hoped to find in your Christmas stocking. Kynastons grocers and bakers. High polished counters with glass topped lids to keep wares in. This shop also had the first real café in the town, and boasted a ballroom too! Christmas parties were held there. Most windows displayed a Christmas Club sign. If the shops didn't offer this then they knew people wouldn't have afforded those extras.

Butchers windows were full of local game and geese, Mr Ratcliffes window display of the pig's head with the orange in it's mouth will be remembered by many. The shops stayed open late and Christmas Eve was a wonderful time with the High Street bustling.

Mrs Ruby Musgrave was interviewed for 'The Wemian' magazine by Linda Etherington
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