In January 1988 I moved from Romford/HaroldWood into a flat in Marlborough Rd, N19, keen to be living in area that ticked all my boxes – easy transport connections for work and socialising, lots of local shops and within a £5 cab ride home from Central London (really!).
Sometimes I'd do my food shopping up at Archway as I exited the tube but mostly I'd take the bus to the Nags Head area as the options were better. I have always said "if you can't find it in Holloway, then you don't need it". So often have I trawled the West End shops only to find a better, cheaper product just around the corner in N7. This same idea popped into my head recently and it got me thinking about all the shops I used to use in the 1990s that are now gone.
– next door to The Eaglet pub at 116-120 Seven Sisters Rd (at the time of writing = a Post Office and Mr Panini's** cafe).
Gibbers was a proper old-style fruit and veg greengrocers with boxes of produce all over the show. You queued to be served with a pound of this, two pounds of that, eight of those and six of them. It was a delight. Wholesale deliveries large and small coming and going constantly. John the manager was such a lovely man. I recall one Saturday when he asked where I'd been recently and I told him I had hurt my back and then as one of the others was serving me John nipped into the chemist next door and bought me some pain relief tablets that he said had worked for him. How nice.
Gibbers suffered tremendously when the parking restrictions came into force meaning companies couldn't even park outside their own premises. I had many chats with John about this as it was really affecting trade. What happened to John? I am not sure he was a Holloway local. Tho I did find this written by someone who used to work there
The Gibbers site became an EDA food centre – see here
Green's home furnishings
– a few doors up from Gibbers covering three, possibly four shops. Green's walk-through windows contained blinds, curtains, cushions and all sorts for the home. I bought lots of bits from there in the late '80s and early '90s when I was setting up home.
– 89 Seven Sisters Rd, opposite Gibbers.
I loved Shelly's shoes. The company had been going since the 1940s and was the go-to shop for big fashion trends such as crepe soles, winkle-pickers, Chelsea boots, platforms and DMs. They always had a really good alternative selection and really well-made. They had a few shops across London including Carnaby Street, Deptford, Chelsea and Kilburn High Rd with larger stores at Oxford Circus and Neal Street.
|I still have a carrier bag!|
As regards the Holloway shop, I remember being so pleased that I had a local branch. I recall the marvellous Victorian walk-in windows full of their fabulous footwear. But I now cannot place when the shop closed. Today, all the shops along that stretch are flat-fronted UPVC blandness and I am now annoyed with myself that I never thought back then to take a
photo. Tho I wasn't running around snapping the details on our streets until well into 2006.
A bit of sleuthing shows me that Shelly's 'died' in 2003
. I can find no ref of the Holloway shop online. But I do have a couple of Shelley's carrier bags. The bag shown here shows the shop's address with an 071 telephone code. I also have another duffle-bag one with 0171/0181 codes on it but the Holloway shop is not listed. Hence this branch must've closed pre-1999.
– opposite Gibber's and Green's at the eastern corner of what was once a huge Victorian store
created by Fred Crisp* who had become so successful that he had manged to purchase not only all the shops in that terrace but also houses in Devonshire Rd (now Axminster Rd) and Sussex Rd (now
Sussex Way). This later became The North London Drapery Store and
then B.B.Evans before being split again into the various units we see
|67-83 Seven Sisters Rd, 2005|
I have memories of carrying heavy bags shopping from
Safeway up to Marlborough Rd past the house I live in today. Argos
was also in this stretch before they moved to the site on Holloway
Rd which back in 1988 was Sainsbury's (or was it KwikSave by then?).
– junction of Holloway Road and Parkhurst Avenue on the site of the old Parkhurst Theatre. Today it's CarpetRight. This had seen better days by the time I got here. Most of the units within were already boarded up and only a few businesses remained. One, I think was a shoe mender or similar(?).
Manolis' Cafe, Hercules Street
– the best breakfasts in Holloway, if not North London.
The absolute best bubble and squeak ever. It was my go-to cafe. I'd take all my visiting friends there. I always enjoyed listening in on Manolis and his Greek friends as they philosophised and assessed world politics.
By September 2006 the cafe had closed
. A typed letter was attached to the boarded up windows. It was so sad. He'd been feeding me for 15 years.
I hope he kept the huge marvellous potted money trees that used to be in the windows. For a short time Manolis worked at a cafe near Finsbury Park station but soon after due to ill health he retired to this home in Southgate. I bumped into him a few times. We kept in touch for a while. I went to have dinner with him and his wife at a restaurant in Southgate one evening in 2008. I should have kept in touch.
Next, Clarks, Ravel
– all in the stretch of Holloway between Nags Head pub and M&S (now also closed down, and relocated to new premises behind Archway station). Woolworths were also here in Holloway (an L-shape shop at the site of Iceland with another entrance opposite the Halifax) but I am not sure I recall the shop personally. They had other branches at Angel and Archway so possibly this one had already closed by 1988...?
– in 1988 it was dreadful and really out of date. Certainly not keeping up with the times. Or even attempting to rival nearby Jones Bros. I remember wondering how they were even managing to stay open. It was a complete mish-mash and looked to be on the brink of closure. But when Jones Bros closed two years later Selby's pulled up their socks and now I think the store rivals John Lewis.
I think that'll do for now... I'll save the rest for another day
*I am compiling a history of Mr Crisp and his store – all additional info welcome.
**A sign within the window reads "Panini's" - ah but Panini is already plural. The inclusion of an apostrophe intimates that either a letter is missing or ownership – the place must therefore be owned by someone called Panini, tho I have yet to meet him. (Paninis with an s added would make it doubly plural and that would be daft)