Memories of Magdalen Street from the 1940’s

MY MEMORIES OF MAGDALEN STREET FROM THE 1940s

Margaret Hornagold (Liz Gibson’s sister)

During the mid-40’s I was taken by my mother to Barrack Street to visit my grandmother quite regularly. On a Wednesday afternoon she frequently took me to the Mayfair cinema to see a film, which from memory always seemed to be somewhat frightening for a small child – made even creepier in black and white. Needless to say my mother was not at all happy but I enjoyed it enormously! This was a time when the war had just ended and Norwich was very bleak and sorry for itself, but us children knew nothing else, therefore we found it incredibly exciting! On Saturday mornings we went to the Odeon cinema for 6 pence: we had to line up in a queue at the back of the cinema and there was always a couple of kids in charge. I found out later that the girl was a bit younger than me but never found out how she managed to acquire such a position of authority! The back of the cinema was full of pot holes which naturally filled with water when it rained, so we had to either come to the cinema in boots (which we hated) or pray the weather was fine at the latter part of the week!

The shops in Magdalen Street all had their own special smell. Even then Sainsbury’s were slightly aloof with its marble floor and counters. It was always cool inside and the lovely smell of the fresh cheese wafted over as you walked in. Woolworths was a shop to behold too, it was a magnet for children with its variety of goods – there was everything you could possibly want. I think most children bought all their school needs there. Their smell was somehow different from anywhere else. It was a combination of all their stationery goods, their wooden floor, and numerous assorted toys. Across the road was another shop which held yet another individual smell.

This was Peacocks. It had a definite ‘downmarket’ smell – of disinfectant and cheap cleaning goods – not as inviting as the other shops!

Even then I must have been a bit of a snob as I rather looked down on those who frequented a shop like that rather than the ‘Woolies’ that I loved!

The rest, too numerous to name – ‘The Army & Navy Stores, Frank Price, the butchers across the road from there (wonderful aroma) etc.

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