From 1932 – A Walk Through Shepherd’s Bush Market

The following article appeared in the West London Observer on 1st July 1932:

“Now Ladies, ‘ere you are, just the very leg you’re looking for, with a pound of sausages thrown in -‘arf a crown the lot.” The ladies looked at one another and then at the butcher who was doing his level best in the scorching sun to impress upon his prospective customers that he, and he alone, had got just the particular part of the animal’s anatomy they required. A reduction of threepence off the half-crown coupled with a superb flow of salesmanship oratory and the said legs with sausage accompaniment disappeared like hot cakes in a blizzard.

“Bit of mint for yer lamb dear ?” asked a large smiling lady, standing nearby. “Tuppence a bunch.”

A microscopic portion of two or three stalks comprised a “bunch” but then, who would relish roast lamb without that inseparable adjunct – mint sauce ?

The proprietor of a fruit stall a little further down was busy telling the world his was the stuff that no one else in Shepherds Bush could possibly sell at the price.

Jewels of all description adorned a gaily decked stall, the owner of which seemed to be doing a brisk trade with those scintillating necklaces now so fashionable.

A crowd of women surrounded a gorgeous display of summer dress materials in every conceivable shade of colour. Choice patterned and floral designs were being offered at ridiculous prices. Daringly attractive sets of lace-edged articles captivated the feminine hearts of many buyers. An exotic whiff of perfume lured me on to where there were piles of scented soap, face creams, and in fact everything pertaining to the toilet.

Beautiful flowers in abundance were being sold and snapped up greedily. Flowers to a woman are an irresistible temptation, and no gift could be more acceptable.

Books ? Heaps of them. A second-hand book dealer needs to be something of a savant to be able to answer correctly all questions potential buyers think well to bombard him with, but this little old man with the twinkling eyes seems ever ready to oblige.

The animal shop is the centre of much interest. It is here where one can, for a reasonable outlay, start a poultry farm, aquarium, dove-cote, etc. Playful kittens and puppies in their respective cages seem to be asking for good kind homes. Inquisitive small boys patiently wait around “Polly’s” cage hoping against hope that she will graciously reward them with a speech in good old traditional style.

Quite a number of ladies and gents are willing, from a financial point of view, to foretell one’s destiny and a little more besides. It is positively amazing what one’s left-hand will reveal to them. These strangely garbed individuals claim to know your antecedents from A to Z; their eagle eyes are uncommonly gifted to penetrate the innermost recesses of one’s soul – and pocket; they indiscreetly talk of fair ladies and dark deeds, and tactlessly in front of your wife refer to some little half-forgotten incident which you may have to answer for when she gets you home.

The herbalists, too, seem to be kept busy prescribing for all ills flesh is heir to, from flat feet to “warped domes”, and no other “hair-raising” preparation could possibly eclipse the one offered for the noble sum of sixpence.

Gramophone and wireless, besides the Fun Fair, are entertaining items for shoppers.

As the doctrine of yesterday is challenged by a fresh philosophy today, there is always some interesting new novelty to be found in Shepherds Bush Market.

Steve Russell

(The above 30’s postcard is from my collection)

One thought on “From 1932 – A Walk Through Shepherd’s Bush Market

  1. Great article about my favourite haunt every Saturday morning in the early sixties.
    It’s amazing how you can still recall the sounds and smells of the market after all these years. A proper market with at its heart the brilliant W G Stores of QPR fame.

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