Tales From Percy Cox's Shop Bike 1952 -1956

An insight into how local shops delivered their goods

I was a Saturday boy at Percy Cox’s Greengrocers shop in the High Road.  It was quite hard work delivering heavy sacks of potatoes to houses at the top of Clarence Road North or Thundersley Park Road on the shop bike.

The shop where I worked is just out of the photograph, there is a small group of people in the right hand corner they would be almost outside Cox’s shop.

Photo of South Benfleet, the Parade c1955, ref. S278032

Reproduced courtesy of Francis Frith.
Benfleet High Road, The Parade, c.1955.

For childhood memories of Dave Cowan

Dave Cowan describes how he worked as a Saturday Boy in the 1950's
6 minutes, details of some of the unmade roads of Benfleet and the difficulties in delivering newspapers and vegetables.
The milkman's boy
The milkman delivered by horse and cart, one occasion the horse bolted. 2mins

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  • I listened with interest to Dave’s account, because I was his successor at Mr Cox’s shop. At the time I had a paper round with Mr Beattie, on the corner of Brook Road. By coincidence, my deliveries included Watlington Road – where Dave lived – and Uplands Road where he delivered for Knightley’s! 

    Mr Cox was our greengrocer and one day, when Dave was off sick, he asked me if I’d do his deliveries. I did, and took over when Dave finally moved on. I well remember the rather dark book-lined back room where the orders were stacked ready for delivery. It had a distinctive but pleasant smell of the beetroots that bubbled in a boiler in the corner. This room was the centre of operations, especially on Saturdays, with much coming and going from shop staff as well as myself. Dominant in the room was the tray of cakes. Unlike Dave’s cakes, these came from Mrs Knott’s grocery shop next door. They were always custard tarts. I like these now but at the time, as a teenage boy, didn’t care too much for them! I’d much rather have had a cream slice, jam doughnut or chocolate eclair! However, I always ate my two – with gratitude! 

    I had the same working hours as Dave, but I think I also did a light round on Thursdays. The money was very good compared to a paper round, and you didn’t have to get up early! Mr and Mrs Cox were lovely people to work for – always cheerful and pleasant. I remember their delightful daughter and her romantic attachment to the butcher’s son next door. Mrs Cox was a quiet gentle lady who had the amazing ability of being able to total up the column of figures on an order invoice almost instantly. She was quite a mathematician. Mr Cox was a prominent member of St Mary’s church. I believe he eventually left Benfleet to become a vicar in Norfolk. In 1970 I married a Norfolk girl and always intended to look him up, but never got round to it – something I now regret.

    By John Brown (14/04/2013)

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