"Any Old Iron" - a Memory of Woodford Bridge.
This photo brings back lots of memories for me as it shows High Road, Woodford Bridge which is where the old-fashioned ironmongers that my family owned was situated. There had been one on the site since the beginning of the 20th Century, but we owned it from 1973 until my Father retired in 1987. Originally it was High Road, Woodford Bridge, but it was renamed Chigwell Road. I particularly remember 1974 as this was when the River Roding, which ran along the rear, burst its banks and flooded the yard. It was under about seven feet of water and the cellar was full up. My Sister and I found it very amusing to sit with the trap door open grabbing things as they floated by.
In later years I worked behind the counter on a Saturday and during school holidays as did my two Sisters. I used to go down there every morning with my Father, help out for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then walk up to West Hatch High School where I was a pupil.
We were well known as a specialist ironmongers for builders and engineers, although we also had a lot of non-trade customers. The job that I hated most was when a delivery of nuts and bolts had come in. I always seemed to get this job on a Saturday morning. They would be all oily and greasy, and were always packed with the nut already on the bolt, the problem was that we sold the nuts and bolts on their own, so the job of taking the nuts off of the bolts always seemed to come to me. I hated it! The only way to get your hands clean after that job was copius amounts of Swarfega!
It was a sad day when my Father, and my Mother who worked alongside him, retired on Christmas Eve 1987 as we had many happy memories.
"The Two Ronnies" sketch about "Fork Handles" could have been filmed here. It was the same, right down to the zinc covered counter and the old fashioned wooden boxes, even the brown overalls! So many people made comments following its transmission, that my Mother even went as far as buying the staff new overalls, in a rather fetching shade of blue.
The last time that I went to Woodford Bridge I could not resist walking along and taking a peek in the window. This was about four years ago. There is still a shop there selling tools, but it is much more modern than it used to be and nobody would think that it looked anything like the ironmongers on the "Two Ronnies" anymore.
A memory shared byon Jan 23rd, 2008.
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