Sowman’s or Burgess’s, as it became, finally closed in the summer of 1984. Today, in spite of many changes, the original Sowman’s buildings still remain. It is good to note that even though the shops have changed hands several times, some original Sowman features are still retained.

In Jean’s time, Sowman’s ironmongery shop was not always best known for its speedy service to its customers. There were too many little hidey-holes into which the shop sales staff could disappear, but the office girls always knew where to find them and winkled them out. In the 1950’s the whole enterprise was known colloquially as ‘Slowman’s’, so no one needed to be in a hurry when shopping there!

Nevertheless, the company was, in effect, both an emporium and an institution that served Olney and the surrounding area very well for more than seventy years. The atmosphere in Sowman’s was invariably friendly and informal and staff morale was usually good. But then of course Superstores and Health and Safety laws (and Political Correctness) had not come along to change the way we shop, work and live!

The recent photograph (below) shows how the shops and traffic have changed in the meantime!


No’s 32, 33 & 34 Market Place (2007)

Copyright © 2007 Olney & District Historical Society


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