The first official trading space in Leominster was triangular. It probably dated from the 1100s. The line of the current High Street was its western side, Draper’s Lane its eastern side and Corn Street its southern edge.
At that time, Leominster Priory was a daughter house of Reading Abbey, and it is possible that a surveyor was sent from Reading to lay out the boundaries of Leominster’s market, as it is very similar in shape and orientation to the first one in Reading. Very quickly, traders changed their temporary market stalls for permanent buildings, which began to encroach on the space, and the only way to get from the High Street to Drapers Lane was through narrow alleys such as Ironmongers and Cordwainers Lanes. Their names showed that different trades began to congregate together.
The market space got smaller. In its original position, Grange Court market house would have been at the centre. 8-10 High Street was built in the 1600s; the four carved heads on either side of the later bay windows may have been cared by John Abell, the King’s Carpenter who built Grange Court. Seven or eight other buildings in the Street date from the same period.
Lewis Grocer, 4 High Street
The core of this building was constructed in the 17th century. Like so many others in the centre of Leominster, a brick front was added to the timber frame early in the 19th century. The owner of the shop in this photo, Alfred Lewis was an important figure in the town and Mayor of Leominster in 1888 and 1900.
In the building now occupied by Stead and Simpson
The International Stores Company was founded in 1878 with the intention of supplying tea direct to consumers rather than through wholesalers. It was a nationwide company, with more than 1000 shops all over the South of England and the Midlands. It ceased to trade under this name in 1988, and was rebranded Gateway, which became Somerfield PLC in 1994. 'Ceylindo' was the International's own brand of tea.
My mum used to go to International for her shopping. You went in through the door and on the left, that's where you asked for all your groceries. They had a chair, and my mother would sit there and give her list in. There were two shop assistants. There was another counter where you could get cheese, butter, and all that, and sometimes the assistants knew what Mum wanted and they would go and get the stuff from that side. Mr Andrews was the manager. My brother went to work there for a bit when he left school. He did some work inside, but mainly he delivered groceries. He had a bike with one of those big baskets on the front. At the weekend there were some from out in the country that wanted their groceries, but he couldn't do it all on the bike, so they had a van to take some out into the country. It was lovely, International, it was very very friendly.
Ross & Son, 20 High Street
Also in Drapers Lane from c1915 to the 1950s. High Street & Drapers Lane in 1937.
Freeman Hardy & Willis, 20 High Street
The Freeman Hardy Willis Company was started in Leicester in 1875 by Edward Wood, Arthur Hardy and William Freeman. They opened their first retail shop in Wandsworth London in 1877, and by 1921 had over 400 shops across the country. the Company became part of the British Shoe Corporation, which eventually collapsed in the 1990s. The Corporation sold 44 of its former branches, including the one in Leominster, to Stead and Simpson.
India & China Tea Company, 9 & 11 High Street
Also Drapers Lane in 1908 and still trading in 1927.
The building shown in this photograph is now a chemist's shop. The core of the building was constructed in the 17th century, but it has been altered many times since. The Victorian photograph shows a brick front, but this was removed again later. The bay windows on the first floor and the shop front facing the street have remained the same shape.
Parrys, 31 High Street
Herbert Oliver at 31 High Street sold a wide variety of food, including fresh fish and fruit
Historic photos show that the exterior of this shop has changed very little in the last 100 years. It has always been a food shop. Now it is Parry's the greengrocer, selling fruit and vegetables, but in the past it was owned by Herbert Oliver who died in the 1950s. It was later known as Pallisers. Then, it sold meat, fish and game as well.
Images of advertising sourced from British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) and The British Library Board.
© 2022 Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited.
Images of Leominster shopfronts with kind permission from Herefordshire Museum Service.