Castle Street was a vibrant shopping area. It was a treat to go there. There were always lots of people around.
There were always lots of stalls down there on a Saturday night – barrows. It was solid. They reckon that when the Blitz started that night 1000s of rats ran down High Street and over the bridge.
Castle Street just before Christmas was just like fairyland. All the barrow boys had flares on their barrows. They’d all be trying to get rid of their stock before Christmas because they had no way of storing it.
The barrow boys just disappeared after the Blitz.
Butchers and the like were open until 10 on a Saturday night trying to get rid of their meat. Because there were no fridges it was all sold off really cheap.
The bulk of the damage was Castle Street way.
And down round Lewins Mead
There were such a lot of shops there.
Dorothy Perkins, Etams. Lots of shops.
They wiped out the lot
I bought my clothes at a shop round the corner from St Peter’s church. It was a big dress shop called John Perris Fabrics. We bought our furniture from Morgans. If you bought bedroom furniture you used to get a gift – it was a trinket set.
There was Jones and Baker, Baker Bros. Baker, Baker and Jones were good quality department stores, like Debenhams.
Just before the Blitz Jones and Baker, Baker had only just been refurbished. They’d only been open about a week. They didn’t have any escalators just stairs.
My neighbour was a milliner; she used to work at Baker, Baker. This guy used to come in on the bus and he would see her in the shop as he went by. He fell for her and made sure he got to know her. Eventually they got married.
If you went to the meat market in High Street on a Saturday they’d practically throw the meat at you to get rid of it. If you go to the market where it is now and then go through a little door by the flower market that’s where the meat market was. I particularly remember the tripe.
It was a busy shopping area.
All the shops in High Street were demolished (in the Blitz).
Peter Street and Dolphin Street
There were outfitters shops in this area.
The Arcades – Broadmead
There used to be two arcades, the upper and lower arcade – the lower is the only one left now. One of the arcades used to come nearly all the way down to Castle Park.
The lower arcade is the one there now – opposite Boots. The upper arcade was where Debenhams is now. That arcade was flattened.