Clements Hall
Queen Victoria St  with tram

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

Clements Hall Local History Group

Exploring the Scarcroft, Clementhorpe and South Bank areas of York

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The rise and fall of shopping at multiple groceries

Although the great majority of our Bishy Road traders are independents, there are a few shops and services which are part of multiple chains, such as Swinton Insurance, Johnsons dry cleaners, Churchills estate agents, Thomas the Baker, Domino’s Pizza, Sainsburys Local and Costcutter. But did you know how far the history of our local shopping parade reflects the history of the retail trade in Britain?

Multiple shop retailing grew steadily from as long ago as 1875 throughout the twentieth century, mainly in grocery. Some of the key historic groups were represented here in Bishy Road, even before the first World War.

You might be too young to remember some of these names but ask your mum or your grandma about them. One of the earliest examples was at no.15 (now part of Lal Quila), which along with many on the west side of the road was originally a private house. However around 1913 it became a butcher’s, Eastmans Ltd.

T.C. Eastman was a New Yorker who shipped cattle to the UK, using his main agent John Bell of Glasgow. He needed outlets able to handle frozen meat and had developed over 100 shops for this by 1885. Bell then joined Eastman to form Eastmans Ltd, with over 350 shops in the UK. The firm was eventually taken over by Vestey Bros (Union Cold Storage Co. Ltd) who traded under the Dewhurst name here in Bishy Road from 1953 until 1967. Dewhurst had over 1,000 shops at its peak, but went into receivership in 1995, after competition from supermarkets, some disastrous property investments, tax avoidance schemes and family rows at Vestey in the 1980’s.

At no. 19 (now Age UK) there was Meadow Dairy for a long period from 1949 until at least 1975. Meadow Dairy was one of the grocery multiples, formed in 1901, with over 800 branches across the country by 1927, when it joined an arrangement with Lipton Ltd. It later became part of Unilever’s Home & Colonial Stores group, then Allied Suppliers and Cavenham Foods. By the 1980s it was part of Safeway UK.

At no. 23 (now Frankie and Johnny’s Cookshop) there was the Thrift Stores Ltd grocery from 1937 until 1974. This was another multiple grocery, formed in 1881 by grocers Wright Popplewell and J.W. Jessop, with a head office in Kirkstall in Leeds.

No. 2 (now part of Cycle Heaven) was British Traders from 1949 until 1963 and then Melias from 1965-7. Melias Ltd was a popular grocers and tea dealers from the 1920’s to the 1960’s alongside Maypole and Home and Colonial Stores. These grocery stores were forced to amalgamate with the Home and Colonial Stores company due to competition from bigger stores.

Do you know anything more about these shops to help us with our researches? If you do please contact Susan Major on suemajor86@gmail.com.