I can just imagine some bright spark in the Marketing Department of a large Supermarket Company stunning his or her colleagues with the revelatinory idea of Home Delivery “What we do Team is to save our Customers coming to the Supermarket by building a Website where they can order their goods online and we deliver to them” with the reply of “OMG what an idea, thinking outside of the box or what, let’s roll this baby”.

Well, I don’t like to disappoint but this is basically what many in Villages or on the outskirts of a Town were doing back in the 1950’s, the only difference is that it was a Telephone then, not an Internet and if they weren’t taking an order over the phone, they’d bring the Shop to you!

I recall as clear as day my Mother phoning Mr. Francis with the Vegetable order and the Village Shop with other items of food and general wares and as long as the order was phoned over by closing time on Tuesday, it would arrive on Wednesday, plus at a stated time rather than the ‘sometime after 1pm we get nowadays.

Just like the Ice Creams Vans of today, at least one Van would stop on the corner near to the House almost daily and announce his arrival with a toot of the Horn; there was the Butcher who would open up the back of his Van and cut the Meat into whatever you asked.
The Fish Monger rolled up in his cold Van full of Fish in Ice giving off that seaside aroma whatever the weather.

These stops weren’t just a shopping event, they were communial as well. As you usually knew the time they would arrive a small group of neighbours would stand outside and chat about much that we do nowadays – the weather and local gossip!

Another big difference was the fact that few people had Refridgerators, we had Larders! Larders were usually walk in, they would be kept cool by the outside wall with ventilation from a small grilled window.
Milk (delivered daily by the ‘Milko’) was stood in a bowl of water with Meats and Fish stored under a Mesh Cover. Butter was often eaten with speed to beat it going off!

I should say we’re not talking poor people here, we’re talking the norm. Shopping in Town was an excursion usually to buy Clothes or Hardware items etc. In many parts you could avoid the Towns for weeks upon end.

I’m always saying that keeping Chickens, Vegetable gardening and frugal living isn’t clever, it’s just doing what we were doing 50 or 60 years ago, it’s just a copycat existance really. Although I never knew it at the time, my Grandparents are probably my greatest influence is finding a simpler alternative life, the biggest difference there is that my Grandfathers would wear a shirt and tie to do their digging!

What goes round comes round they say and with Home Delivery it is just returning to past when things, surpsingly to many, actually did work efficiently and affectively.

The final difference is when we did phone up to place an order, you would pick up the phone, wait for the Exchange Operator to answer and say “Mr. Francis 4465 please”. Now it’s a username and password paying by Card and not cash!

Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s Memories of being a Lad, in black and white, just like the photo from 1954!

One Comment on “Home Delivery – the old way”


By Mrs B. November 18th, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I have fond memories of the grocers van calling at my Grandparent’s house. The best was when the baker called as he always knew (we thought by magic) when us children were visiting as he would produce sticky buns for our tea, he always stayed for a cuppa and a chat on a Friday when he was collecting the money.

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