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Stony Stratford Shops

From memory lane to modern shopping in Stony

Ladies shopping in Stony Stratford 1920's
One can only imagine what these ladies from the 1920s would have made of modern supermarkets and hypermarkets - or having to serve yourself!

In these days of out-of-town stores surrounded by huge car parks, the extensive rows of small shops which still line the high street of Stony Stratford offer a welcome relief, and a reminder of the days when shopping was on a more human scale.

So let the eyes turn to limpid pools and return with us to the days when a trip to the shops was less of an endurance test......

Canvins Butcher's and London House

At the entrance to the High Street at the "top of the town" (i.e. the end furthest from the river) stood Canvins the butchers, or as the sign painted on the wall above the shop so proudly announces: "Wholesale & Retail Purveyors of Meat".

Today, Hygiene Inspectors and Food Standards Officers would have something to say about so much raw meat exposed to whatever is around in the air.

Demolition of Canvins Swinfen's Yard on the Canvin's site
In the late 1980s, Canvins was demolished.
Note the Co-op which had appeared next to it
Today the site is occupied by Stony Stratford
Bookshop and the entrance to Swinfen's Yard

Odells Hardware ShopOdells commemorative sign
Odells is one of the longest-established businesses in Stony Stratford, as the sign on their wall testifies.

As can be seen from the main photo, the business expanded in the latter half of the last century, though its original premises and origins are clearly discernible from the architecture of the left-hand building.

Church magazine page 1957Chipperfields in the High Street

Chipperfields took over the business shown in the photo (left). They were only a short distance down the street from Odells, on the opposite side of the road. Like Odells, there was a display of their wares in the street.

This Church magazine entry from 1957 (right) suggests a rivalry which may have existed between the two concerns.

Cox & Robinson 1930s Kay's Kitchen 2003
A 1930s view of Cox & Robinson's shop
in the High Street
Today the site is occupied by Kay's Kitchen, but the Georgian exterior features are still discernible

Cox & Robinson's is also one of the longest-running businesses in Stony Stratford, having been established in 1760. For many years it occupied premises in the High Street, before moving to its present location in the Market Square (see below)

Cox & Robinson advertisement Cox & Robinson 2003

The advert above highlights the wide range of goods and services available, catering for everything from Soda Water and Lemonade through to Sheep Ointment! Possibly most intriguing of all is the small footnote: "Teeth Carefully Extracted" ! Though the current premises make more restrained claims, the sign above the door does still advertise "High Class Skincare & Fragrance" as well as "Pet & Agricultural Supplies"

Rudds and Lampitt & Elliotts shopsTypical of the kind of small shops so commonly seen in towns of this size were the twin businesses of Rudds and Lampitt & Elliotts. Rudd's wide-ranging provision is further extended by the hand-written note on the doorway which proclaims: "Lyons Cakes Sold Here", while Lampitt & Elliott's confirmation of now long-gone technology and terminology can be read in the sign which denotes them as "Wireless Experts" and one of the adverts in the window which offers Cossor valves for ten shillings and sixpence.

The former Betts house in Russell Street Betts shop and house early 1900s

Small family businesses flourished away from the High Street. The front window of this standard Victorian terraced house in Russell Street was once the display window for Betts - a family building firm. Betts & Faulkner advertisement 1957

We make derive wry amusement from the fact that the centre of the window display - and presumably the height of desirable sophistication - appears to be a toilet pan (or in the terminology of the time: porcelain sanitaryware)

By the 1950s, this long-standing family business was based in the High Street. It had also merged and diversified, as this church magazine advert shows

Cofferidge Close - High Street frontage
Cofferidge Close entrance Cofferidge Close car park

In common with many English towns, Stony Stratford has seen a degree of "urban renewal", as old houses and premises are demolished to make way for new developments.

At the top end of town, replacing an inn, shops and even a garage which was there before it, stands Cofferidge Close. Like many streets and developments in Milton Keynes, it takes its name from that originally given to piece of land it occupies. In this case, it is one which in 1680 was called "Cofferey's Close".

Designed in a style similar to Milton Keynes Library but looking slightly incongruous in its current setting, it nevertheless offers the kind of facilities the modern shopper has come to expect: easy access and nearby car parking.

China Seas in High Street
With all the changes which have taken place during the last century, Stony Stratford High Street still manages to preserve a sense of consumer purchasing on a human scale.

It is also comforting to know that old traditions still survive and flourish. Here at Number 83, the shop China Seas - like so many before it - displays its wares on the pavement as an inducement to come in, browse..... and buy.