North Walsham & District Community Archive

A Christmas Look-Round

A newspaper article from the Cromer and North Walsham Post – date unknown, possibly 1930s.
Contributed by Angela Stevenson.


The festive season so near at hand reminds us of a recurring obligation to our North Walsham friends who, all the year round, by business announcement in the columns of this journal, make known to the local world the wealth, in merchandise, of our right little, tight little town, and extend to us the privilege, at Christmas, of putting it in our own way what they have for sale that is most likely to catch the eye of our numerous readers. The self-imposed task is not undertaken without a thought of incompetence, but, nevertheless, we have a gratification in this special desire to please, affording as it does an opportunity of thanking our wide circle of local advertisers (many of whose names have appeared in the Cromer and North Walsham Post as one unbroken record) and the general public for their continued appreciation of the only newspaper that is entirely devoted to the locality.

To begin, then, at the top of the tree, of course, the establishment of Messrs Howes and Son, in Market-street, claims first attention, as there the variety of good things to be obtained is almost endless, and no housewife should consider her purchases complete without paying a visit to this well-known store. The ingredients of the Christmas pudding will head your order, then come mincemeat, biscuits, oranges, prunes, figs, dates, and nuts of all kinds by way of dessert, and a choice of drinkables that must well-nigh hit the palates of all - port, sherry, Burgundy, claret, brandy, gin, "Irish and Scotch", rum, British wines, and ales and stout, the very pick of the markets commanded by this noted firm of purveyors. The prices in leading lines have already appeared, but they must not be taken to represent the lowest figures, as Messrs H and Son have wisely issued a list of "mediums", reserving to themselves the pleasure of personally supplying their customers with further and more detailed information. Besides all this, the huge shop and warehouses are stocked with necessaries and articles for domestic use, innumerable and, with what the ladies all like, the wherewithal to make a cup of tea - it is Howes "Dainty" - a special blend, and so it is sure to be good. No matter if you live in North Walsham or not, make a journey to the shop on purpose and you will have your railway fare paid by the obliging proprietors.

In the same street (at Excelsior House), and in a similar line, Mr F Gregory still maintains his reputation as a high-class caterer and a visit to his place of business will afford convincing proof that the title is well founded. The bill of fare presented by this leading tradesman includes Valencia raisins, preserved figs, muscatels, preserved ginger, crystallised fruits, dessert biscuits, Christmas cakes, oranges, nuts, crackers, fancy chocolate, bon-bons, etc, and ales and wines and spirits of the finest quality.

The next nearest grocer is Mr Loveless, whose bold display of provisions is sure to attract those on the look-out for making up a Christmas hamper at the least cost and containing the greatest variety in the way of food supply. In fact, this provider of substantial fare in the Market-place is continually announcing something special that appeals to the appetites of all classes, as well as their pockets. Today it is a line in choice roll bacon at the ridiculous cost of 6 ½ d per lb, and tomorrow it may be half-a-gallon jar of pickles at almost giving-away price; but whether it is tea, sugar, plums, or currants, or anything else, you may depend that at Mr Loveless' you are going to have full value for money.

Messrs Cubitt and Son combine with their grocery business an equally first-class drapery establishment. At the top of the town, near the site of the Post-office, Mr Le Grice is surrounding himself with a host of patrons, as we indicated when a few months ago this enterprising young tradesman took over the business that now bears his name. What Mr Le Grice has to dispose of may be seen sampled at his windows (which are patterns of neatness at any time), and the rest you will learn when giving your Christmas orders - that the counters are laden with everything that goes to make up a first-class grocery and provision store. Mr A Walker is a man of more than dual parts, as, in addition to holding the titles of "The People's Grocer", he is "the" Cycle Agent for North Walsham and district (a visit to his showrooms at Post Office-corner will convince you of this) and, moreover, Mr Walker is the Conjuror, Ventriloquist, and Gramophone exhibitor sought whenever a select entertainment is to be given in the neighbourhood. A new applicant for public favour is Mr E W Barker (late Williamson), whose up-to-date grocery business is situate in "The Butchery" and there you can be supplied with all the delicacies of the season, Barker's celebrated tea included.

The drapers comes next in order, and at the head stand Messrs Bullimore and Son, as must be plain to the most casual observer when viewing either of their fine establishments in the Market-place. A look within (and you are sure to want something in our friend's line at Christmas) will show you that although the firm possess an immense stock, everything is in perfect order, and on request you will be served with almost clocklike precision - to say nothing of civility from principals down to shop-boy. It may be boots you want - dresses, jackets, mantles, furs, or millinery done - then go to Bullimore's.

Waterloo House is not far off, either as to distance or in the nature of the goods supplied; and Mr Barker may well remind his numerous customers not to forget, when buying their Christmas presents, to give him a call (those having families cannot well do without him - if they wish to please the girls and boys) as here children's dresses and juvenile trinkets to be worn are found in the greatest number, and so, for the matter of that, are garments fit for the lady of fashion or any class of female wearers. To enumerate them all - or even half - we should require a good deal of prompting by Mrs Barker, and as this cannot be, the masculine mind adopts the safe course of drawing attention to leading lines, such as - aprons, handkerchiefs, pinafores, scarves, hosiery, collarets, gloves, bows, furs, blouses, skirts, umbrellas, etc, with a hint as to the well-appointed millinery department.

To Market-street again (for the sake of reference) and here we come to a stop, as far as giving anything like an adequate idea of the well-displayed articles which Mr A E Porter has on view at his establishment. For the most part they belong to the same order as the previous metals - all beautiful in design and workmanship - and among the host of valuables are gold and silver watches, rings, brooches, bracelets, pencil-cases, thimbles, matchboxes, studs, fruit knives, electro-plated goods, and a hundred other glittering gems suitable for Christmas and New Year's gifts, about which the would-be purchaser might pause before asking the price. But there need be no apprehension on this point, as Mr Porter has so regulated his stock that rich and poor alike can have their wants supplied, the value in many instances - such as watches - starting from 10/- (or less) up to £5 and £10, while silver ornaments can be purchased from 1/- upwards. This is also the noted shop for repairs and where the proprietor is known as a hunter up of antiques.

On the opposite side of the way is North Walsham's leading butcher, Mr R Palmer, who, for the next few days, will be busy arranging a supply of Christmas joints such as have surprised us in past years for their prime quality and low price - the secret of the old shop's continued success.

You want a rig-out in the shape of furniture for the new home that is contemplated? Then you have only to cross the street for a call upon "Harvey" and there you are - a sitting-room suite for £3/10/-, sufficient inducement, almost, for the fellow to get married now who had intended putting it off until the New Year; and what is very handy, Mr Harvey can finish you in one go with whatever in "Jane's" eye constitutes complete furnishing.

The cask of ale with which to treat your friends had better be ordered from "The Mitre Stores" just round the corner where Mr E T Firmin is the recognised manager for the celebrated firm of "Morgans' Brewery Company", and Mr Charles Plummer, the courteous travelling agent.

Next on the list is McLean's photographic studio which has a connection all its own, and then Mrs Eastoe's window will arrest attention - if only for the neatness displayed in setting out the hundred-and-one things which this lady always has on hand. It may be toys, books, or periodicals you are looking for, but whatever it is in the line indicated Mrs Eastoe will do her very best to please. For the higher-class goods the name of Mrs Rump will suggest itself as the one to associate with Christmas and New Year's cards, books of all kinds, games, annuals, diaries, etc and from the leading houses in the trade, and all those in search of such are recommended to pay a visit to this well-known Market-place establishment.

The Church-street stationer is Mr J Loades, whose business tact and obliging manner have secured for him an extensive patronage. The trade carried on by Mr Loades embraces that of newsagent, music-seller, and dealer in fancy goods generally, and the special articles which he has now on view - Christmas and New Year's cards, books of every description, and suitable presents of all kinds.

The look-around brings us to that central furnishing depot so long and successfully conducted by Mr H Mace, who, with the aid of steam and manual labour combined, supplies both the home and distant markets with his artistically-made cabinet and other goods. The prices quoted by Mr Mace for his chairs, tables, bedsteads, couches, mattresses and dining and drawing-room suites - not only now but all the year round - should ensure for him a special visit at this season of preparation for home-coming, which generally means, on the part of the parents, an added item to the house decoration for the sake of the boys' and girls' return once more. There is a choice, too, not always offered at similar establishments - in the way of carpets, mattings, china, glass, and earthenware.

Another Market-place tradesman, Mr F F Miles, is known the country round and held in high repute for his workmanship in the clock, watch, and jewellery line. How long the correct time has been kept at his place of business is a puzzler - for something like 150 years - and while Mr Miles continues there the name and fame of the shop are not likely to die out. Our good friend the jeweller, in addition to his reliable stock of watches and clocks, also has a remarkably cheap line in 22-carat gold wedding rings, which carry with each purchase a free gift of half-a-dozen spoons.

To Messrs Stead and Simpson's branch establishment is only a short distance, and there Mr Hooper has been engaged for some time adding to the great firm's prestige as manufacturers of boots and shoes. Messrs Loads and Sons, in the same line, have also built up a big local reputation for the quality and cheapness of their goods - not boots and shoes only, but as outfitters on a large scale, and all who patronise them now to spend any amount from 10/- upwards will receive a handsome present.

From here, after the long shopping, a cup of tea will not be amiss, and Mr Allen, of the Cafe, can accommodate you with rest and refreshment. The male kind need not be reminded to fill up the tobacco-pouch and cigar-case, or that Mr Perfect is the man to give the smoker satisfaction, and, if occasion demands it, the customer can be accommodated on the premises with a shave and hair cut - turned out clean and presentable for the Christmas greeting.

One other gentleman in the Market-place, Mr E J Denney, has to be mentioned, in connection with his well-appointed pharmacy - where drugs and chemicals are dispensed with care and exactness - also the business of a printer, which is controlled by the same proprietor. A second professional gentleman is Mr George W Smith, who is consulted on all matters locally dealing with fire and life insurance, as well as being agent-general for all the best ocean-going steam line companies.

The trades proper end with a notice of Mr G A Grimes' place of business on the Yarmouth-road, where corn, flour, fruit, and vegetables can be purchased. (Mr Grimes also goes in for the letting of ponies and traps), and a call on Mr Horace T Pilgrim of Vicarage-Street, the merchant of the place. In former years we have alluded to our friend as an expert in his calling - so all the farmers still say - and we have nothing to add, only hand over your samples to Mr Pilgrim, when it will be apparent that his judgement is based on a long and critical training. It is no wonder, then, that we have confidence in recommending the goods he has for sale, such as agricultural seeds, linseed and cotton cake, malt and hops, dog biscuits, greaves, pheasant food, flour, supers, pollar, etc, and a quality of coal that always gives satisfaction. Mr Pilgrim also supplies cut hay, straw, and general forage, and he is the sole agent in the district for William Colchester's famous manures.

A walk to "The Catchpit Nurseries" can produce only one result, that Mr Ellis, the manager, is the very man to supply you with Christmas table decorations and anything else by way of floral adornment. There is also just now a taking exhibit in the Market-place, at Mrs Healey's shop window, of floral specimens and greenery, which make a sure bid for Christmas favours, and it is not alone confined to flowers, the choicest and ferns the most rare, but an abundance of luscious fruits also greets the eye. For any further particulars - the prices are arranged to suit all - ask Mrs Healey, and she will only be too happy to oblige.

The vendors of the cup "that cheers" are here, of course, in plenty, but it is only with the few that we have to deal, and certainly the foremost among them is Mr R W Palmer, of the King's Arms Hotel, who not only can boast the part of important "host" but he is the best-known job and post master to be found anywhere. In his extensive business Mr Palmer employs the best of drivers - splendid horses, and equipages fit for a prince, they have been used many times by members of our Royal Family as well as by the highest nobles in the land.

Well done, North Walsham! What other town, of similar size, is there in England that can make such a boast? Mind, they are not Mr Palmer's words - he is too modest for anything of the kind and so we utter them for him.

Next, Mr Bennett, of the Black Swan Hotel, has always a welcome for his numerous callers, whether it is for a chat in "the bar" or over a game at billiards in his handsome saloon, where many lovers of the fascinating art will no doubt spend a part of their holidays. That handy place of call for travellers by rail or road, the Bull Inn, is sure of its Christmas share, if only for the sake of a handshake with the genial proprietor; and both to Mr Hayden (so snugly located at the Feathers Inn) and our friend Mr H Bates we extend a similar greeting.

And now, our task ended, we have but to wish our patrons all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.