David Gray’s Reminiscences of Mayfield and Five Ashes – Part 3

Above Oak Croft there were a wool shop, a coal merchant’s office and a cycle shop; I think all of them were probably run by Bachelors or the Bachelor family; of course, a lot of Bachelors lived in Mayfield about the time I’m talking about.  The next house, which is called Ferndale and West View – that was one large house after being shops and it rejoiced in the name of Malcolm Marneys. Then, just by the side of Malcolm Marneys is the aforementioned twitten leading down to
the Rogers Cycle & Wireless Workshop.

The tallest building in the village, erected in 1905 before planning consent, I guess, is on the site of very old tumbledown cottages: the right side, in my day, was a ladies’ hairdresser “Mayfair”, run by Miss Ninn and Miss Thorpe, who looked after my mother’s hair before Alan came on the scene. The left-hand side was obviously Barclays Bank.

I’m working up the High Street now on the south side: the small building occupied by The Flower House (previously Sawyers Restaurant) was a car showroom – almost impossible to believe, thinking of the size of that building! It was a car showroom after the war. In order to get the one, occasionally two tiny, cars in off the road, the granite sets were laid almost flat, instead of upright. Now, this has never changed: to this day, the granite sets are still flat, and not upright. It was then the sales branch of Sivyer Brothers Central Garage (which we’ll come to later on up the High Street).

Then the estate agent, originally called Ewbanks, then Nightingales (after the war), then I think Hampdens; now it’s the place where Handleys operate. But it’s worth just looking up at the old lettering on the west fanlight of the High Street window – the amazing old lettering on the estate agents’ office. Post-war, that estate agents was run by a Mr Pentecost and a Mr Walcup, and their influence remains in the village today. (No comment…!) Over 100 years ago, I am told that it
was actually Mrs Cottingham’s shop, well-known and loved by a lot of people, but I wasn’t around then.

On the same side of the road from Columbine Cleaners, right along to Lower Steps Osteopaths was all Nappers. Nappers shop, with a huge extension at the rear. Nappers – well, I don’t know what they didn’t sell! Ironmongery, of course; farm implements; spades, forks, gardening things; just an amazing village shop and, just after the war, they employed five men in the workshop. One of the van drivers, after the war, was Len Harman who, until very recently, lived in a tiny little cottage down Star Lane called Wee Cott. I understand he’s still alive and living in a Home now; Wee Cott is empty – unoccupied.

Also, living in Star Lane were a quite well-known pair of sisters: the Miss Fenners. They were regular church-goers at St Dunstan’s Church; everybody in the village knew them because they came from the Fenner family which, for hundreds of years, was particularly well-known in Mayfield village. Kathleen Fenner, one of the sisters, worked for my father in the office above what was then Collins & Gray. Both of these ladies lived deep into their 90s – lovely ladies.

Somewhere near Nappers, though I’m not too sure where, was the Mayfield Armoury & Gunshop. Now, at one time it was definitely in the west half of what later became Rogers double shop premises, but I think it moved once or twice before or after then. The east half of that double-fronted shop was, of course, Hallfords (?) the grocers, run by dear Miss Hallford and her nephew, Ralph. Lots of happy memories!

Next door to Hallford’s, or Rogers, or empty shop probably now, is a pair of semi-detached big houses; they were in private occupation during my time here, but I’m told that the owner, a lady, bequeathed them to the church, which is why they now form The Vicarage.

David Gray, March 2017

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