Joseph Sassoon on shopping in Kirkcudbright

Joseph Sassoon interviewed by his daughter, Tania Gardner.

Joseph Sassoon recounts to his daughter how and where goods were purchased in Kirkcudbright in the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Interviewed: 8 October 2012.
  • Ref: DG13/1/1/2.
  • Photo: Tania Gardner.
  • © European Ethnological Research Centre.


TG: Do you remember shopping in the town? Did you have to go for messages?

JS: I didn’t often have to go for messages very much. We bought all our requirements in the town. And, if I remember rightly, the message-boy would come round and take a note of what we, of what was required and then I guess that was delivered and the bills were paid maybe monthly or quarterly. And I guess there’s certain competition among the grocers, and we went to the grocers. I mean I can remember the lovely smell in grocers’ shops from then. And there was a tailor in the town – he made our clothes. We bought our shoes in the town. Our household goods could be bought for the town and within the town.

TG: So there wasn’t really any need to go further afield to buy daily necessities?

JS: No, daily necessities were all there. Well nobody would have thought of going, even as far as Castle Douglas. How would we do that? Except by bus I suppose. But, em, I mean there were no fridge. So we had a little larder that was built into the wall and in that was kept stuff that had to be kept cold. But nothing kept for long. Milk didn’t keep for long. I can’t remember what else lived in that larder – not much else I suppose.

TG: So the message-boys were coming in the street, probably on a bicycle?

JS: Yes, on a bicycle. Quite clever bicycles. They had a small front wheel where a big basket lived and some of them had a basket behind the seat as well. And some of them had a panel on the bicycle with the name of the grocers from whom they came, or the butcher, I suppose, as well.

TG: Were there any other people came around the town, around the street, or knocked your door?

JS: Yes, we had, I suppose what we might call tinkers, they came and, eh, mostly clothes-pegs I think. And, for some reason, we bought rattan garden furniture from somebody who came. And I remember they seemed to come with these things tied on top of their car. And we had a fruiterer who came in a van – I suppose he was trying to get an edge on the trade. But, eh, there weren’t many other people came. We didn’t have packmen that came, to the extent that they came round the town. And my parents bought stuff from Harrods I suppose.

TG: Mail order?

JS: Yeah, well I suppose, well it had to be mail order. And my father got his cigarettes in bulk, direct from Rothmans. And the coffee came from Woods of Walton, because that was where the Sassoons shopped, Walton-on-Thames that is. And jam came from Wilkins [Wilkin & Sons Ltd] which still exists, Wilkins still exists. They used to come in cases. But, eh, I can’t think of other things that came like that – that was us shopping away. But most of that stuff could be bought in the town too.

TG: But that was historical, for family related reasons.

JS: Yes, yes.