Sunday, 20 April 2014

The Quadrant

As with The Ridgeway and The Park, The Quadrant always has the definite article as part of its name.  Oh, and by the way, The Quadrant is fifty-five years old.  I know, can you believe it?

Opening a trade show in 1960.
Until 1959 there was Fleetville, of course, or Wynchlands Parade, or Beech Road.  Mr Dench had a little front parlour general shop in Sandpit Lane at Newgates.  Several traders, aware of the difficulties Marshalswick residents encountered, ran mobile operations for essential goods.

Twenty years after the first homes went up on the former Marshalswick Farm, the shops finally arrived.  The three linked blocks facing the car park and a wing of five shops on each side.  A few years later five more units were added on each side.  The car park seemed vast at the time and there was always plenty of space.  Yes, really!  And many drivers and cyclists used the service road directly in front of the shops as well.

Pride of place at the front was a double-sized unit which went to Marshalswick Car Sales, with a grocery on each side of it – Pearks and Bishop's.  However, within 3 years the showroom had moved to the petrol station site and Bishop's (now Budgen's) snapped up the showroom to triple the size of its grocery; or shall we call it a supermarket?

One of the first shops to open was Edward Carter, where Marshalswick Furniture is today.  Mr Carter ran a diy store, leasing two units, as well as having a shop in Beech Road, both later being taken over by Timberland.  In order to promote business in a growing residential estate he organised trade shows at St Mary's corner, both in the hall and in marquees.  Somehow he managed to find Harry Oakes who agreed to open the show in 1960.  Harry won't mean much to people now, but in 1960 he played the patriarchal role in a young radio series.  It was called "The Archers".  The same series runs even more successfully today.

Bishop's Stores, now Budgen's
Early shoppers will recall two shops called Martin's; one a chemist and the other a newsagent which incorporated the sub post office.  There was a specialist toy shop (Drummond's); a specialist shoe shop (Blindell's); a specialist cycle shop (Pearse's); specialist electrical shop (Giffen's); a specialist ironmongery (Allen's) and a specialist butcher (Butler's).  Although those no longer exist, the following are still trading, at least under the same name:  Martin's newsagent; Wright's watchmakers; and of course, the two banks, Barclay's and Lloyd's.  On the other hand, today we have little cafes and restaurants, two charity shops and a pet supplies shop, which were not part of the mix in the early years.

The centre block at the front in 1959.  Some shops are not yet
open and you could play football on the car park!
Photo courtesy CHRIS CARR.
The Quadrant is now known as a "destination shopping location" and therefore deserves a reference on direction signs.  Oh, and one more difference: if you take your car, you might find it difficult to find a parking space at busy times.

The same view on a recent Friday morning at 9am.

1 comment:

  1. My parents with me, aged 2, moved to a semi in The Ridgeway in 1958 and I remember the early days of The Quadrant well. Butler's butcher's shop had sawdust on the floor and a separate payment booth at the back of the shop. The shop boy then brought your newly acquired joint on a bike direct to your door later in the day! I later did a paper round for Martin the Newsagent from 1970-74 when Mr Thompson was the proprietor. Most of the proceeds was spent in Drummonds on Airfix kits. Great days.