Memories of Sands the Florists

One of the shops that every one remembered with affection was John R Sands, this shop sold flowers and local produce and was famous for the wreathes they made. It was the shop that became the Drape Vine, which I think is equally nowadays still one of the most attractive shops on our High Street.
Anyway as coincidence would have it a Mrs Shaw contacted the Wemian to talk about the High Street shops, In the mid 1990s, I went along to meet her and found that she was the daughter of the late Mr John R Sands.
Mrs Shaw for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting her is a delightful lady, I'm sure she will not mind me telling you that when interviewed in 1996 was 85 and had lived in Wem all her life. The Sands were a close family and in one way or another every one helped each other. The shop between the wars was in every sense a family business. The majority of the flowers used for cutting and wreathes were grown on a plot up New Street, Edinburgh House now stands there. Although every one worked hard , businesses between the wars in Wem were not really in it for any profit, it was a living and a way of life said Mrs Shaw. If you think of the number of shops that Wem supported to the size of the population then, it is easy to see that many must have operated that way. Before Mr Sands bought his shop he had a stall in the Old Market Hall by the Church. Then he bought the shop and took his family to live above. Mrs Shaw lived with the family over the shop until she married and she believes she probably knew every one living in Wem in those days. The shop would be open every evening till 8pm and Saturdays till 9pm. During the war shops didn't have the goods and had shorter opening times. The work was left to the women and older men, like many families the Sands had five men away fighting, thankfully all returned. Mrs Shaws husband helped with the shop and in total Mrs Shaw worked there for forty four years. She obviously loved her work, she recalls long hours and hard work sometimes working all night to complete wreathes. Happy memories are of Carnival time, they donated the flowers to the Carnival Queen and her attendants. To see the floats and bands was a sight to behold and the day after the carnival the High Street would be swept clean early in the morning and every one was happy to lend a hand.

Mrs Shaws earliest memory funnily enough were not of the shop but when she had earlier lived in New Street and she was about six or eight and she was sent to the Hawkstone arms with a jug for a pint of beer. It must have been around 1918 and to be seen carrying a jug from the pub was a very common sight. This led Mrs Shaw to talking about the number of pubs that Wem supported, Mrs Shaw can recall 15, maybe you can remember more?

Some of these pubs and hotels still exist. The Fox, The Horse and Jockey, The Castle, The White Lion, The Albion, The Hawkstone Arms.

From 'The WEMIAN' edited by Linda Etherington

Go to Home for more historical topics