Gigins of Gloucester Road

Photo:Gigins, Gloucester Road

Gigins, Gloucester Road

Photo:My grandmother on the right with her two assistants

My grandmother on the right with her two assistants

Memories of the manageress in the 1930s and 40s

By Yvonne Dedman

My grandmother, Emily Elizabeth Randall, was born in 1893 and died in 1994 aged 101.  In her 90s she wrote the story of her life.

She was manageress of Gigins

As she lived in Crown Street, off Western Road, there is not a great deal about the North Laine area, but I am copying a few paragraphs below which may be of interest.  They describe her time in Gigins, the cake and bread shop, on the corner of Gloucester Road and Kensington Street, where she was manageress from the 1930s (when the photographs were taken) to the 1960s. Some older residents of North Laine may remember her.

Nearby shops

In the first photograph, my grandmother is standing in the door. Next door, the shop with lamps may be named C Davis, and beyond that is the fruit and vegetable shop which was on the corner of Kensington Gardens. The shop on the other corner of Kensington Street may be a newsagents as a noticeboard for advertisements can be seen above the sandwich board.

Managing the shop in the 1930s

"I am now supervisor to all the shops [Gigins] but I am not happy with the job. I am not much good at trying to put people in their place or telling people off. I also find it hard work - on and off buses, and a lot of walking. But after about six months Gigins are sold out to Clarks who have their own supervisors, and I am offered our Gloucester Road shop as the man and wife who have been running it are leaving. I am very pleased and accept. It is very hard work at first. All the bread which was sent to the Gloucester Road shop had to be counted out by men with barrows. I thought what a waste of time, and so much extra work. Thank goodness, Clarks soon altered that. In future all bread, cakes, etc, were to be packed onto vans and barrows at the factory. This made my work much easier. For staff, I had three girls and, as well as the shop, we also ran a small tea room which seated about 15. With account books to keep going I found this more than enough.

Working hours

Life is now about the same each day: up at 7 o'clock; work by 10 to 8; finish work at 8 o'clock on weekdays but not until 9 or even 10 o'clock on Saturdays; my half day is Wednesday when I finish at 1 o'clock if lucky. I look forward most of all to Sunday - lovely to have a day to see more of Dot [daughter] and home."

Her earnings

At this date, the 1930s, she was earning £1 10s (£1.50) per week.  Her assistants were earning 5s (25p) per week.

During the war

"We were very busy in my shop during the war as there was an army barracks opposite, sometimes our own soldiers, sometimes Canadians - quite a mixed crowd. It was tea and cakes for us nearly all day long. We got quite used to all the war songs."

German planes overhead

One year during the war, on my birthday (September 15th), we watched hundreds of German planes coming over Brighton. I had never seen so many, we thought of London. It must have been terrible for the people there. We watched dog fights from my shop door and saw some planes falling - poor laddies. The Germans lost many planes and men that day."

Then and now

As you know, the shop is now Ju-Ju [2008], the 'zebra' shop. My grandmother was cremated.  Otherwise, I think she would be turning in her grave to see its present appearance!

[Also published in the North Laine Runner, No 211, July/August 2011]

This page was added on 02/10/2008.

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