Following the publication of her second article two weeks ago, Lesley Dunlop concludes her recollections of shopping in Oxhey Village.

With Villiers Road reminiscences covered, let’s take a walk down Capel Road. My sundry recollections include dripping wet canvas, pomegranates, liver for the cat, pink shrimps, flying saucers, sherbet dips and gobstoppers. An odd mix, but I can see them now and the shops where they could be found. Pennies from Queen Victoria’s youth were still in use in the 1950s and a well-worn Victorian penny could buy a number of sweets.

What really confused me as a child were the street name plates. I recall reading Capel Road at one end and, on an older sign, Capell Road at the other. Capell appeared in early documents and books; the spelling changing with the surname of the earls of Essex’s Capell or Capel family.

Read more: More memories of how shopping used to be

Turning into Capel Road from the junction with Villiers Road, Palmer’s and Loveday’s on either side and the railway line ahead, there were houses on the left before M. Dixey the butcher at 35. Owned by Maurice Dixey; the dreaded slaughterhouse lay at the rear. Suzanne the florist was next door at No. 33; Collyns Motor Care Hire in the 1960s and A.H. Cross’s hardware shop in the 1950s.

Watford Observer:

M. Dixey, butcher, at 35 Capel Road in the late 1970s

Everyone flocked to Turner’s the fruiterer at 29 and Brown’s the greengrocer on the right-hand side of the quaint Caroline Place entrance. William Turner & Sons was one of several shops in Oxhey Village where queuing was par for the course, but so was the excuse to chat with other villagers. I recall the selections of neatly-displayed fruit; none waxed in those days. You made your selection and a member of staff put the required weight-worth, or thereabouts, on the scales. Inevitably, the items would be just over or under the desired weight, at which point the customer’s decision was sought. The fruit was then put in brown paper bags and into the customers’ shopping baskets. Everything was fresh, fairly priced and paid for with cash; no plastic wrappings or credit cards then.

Watford Observer:

Caroline Place in the late 1970s

Up the steps on the left corner with Caroline Place was a tobacconist run by R. Longhurst, which became Stella’s, a hairdresser that my grandmother favoured. On the opposite corner was George Brown & Sons at 7, where I queued with her on many occasions. My abiding memory is of the rain cascading onto the canvas canopy which rippled noisily when it was windy. You had to be very careful not to get a drenching, especially when moving up the queue to select and pay. The fresh root vegetables had soil attached and greenery too. One November Saturday, around Bonfire Night, I saw pomegranates for the first time at Brown’s. I was so fascinated that my grandmother bought me one. Once home we cut it open, but I didn’t know what to make of its pippy, strangely-flavoured inside.

A few paces further down on the corner, at 28 Pinner Road, was a tobacconist and sweet shop run by the genial George Benton, whose daughter Gillian I remember well. Though in Pinner Road, I did not want to exclude the shop because, as well as cigarettes, Mr. Benton sold sweets; a stop-off destination frequented by passing schoolchildren.

Watford Observer:

Capel Road on Christmas Day 1979

Crossing Capel Road, there were houses until 18, the premises of G.W. Field (Oxhey) Ltd., builders and maintenance contractors. At 22 there was Leslie Hopcraft, a small grocer. More houses followed before my favourite non-sweet shop came into view: William Bush’s pet shop (later Sangina’s Pet Parlour) at 46, which smelt of straw and dog biscuits. It was where my grandmother bought fresh liver for our cat, Peter. The large old-fashioned fan-shaped Avery scales always attracted my attention; vintage scales that Miss Daphne Pollard was still using in Sangina’s two decades later.

Watford Observer:

Daphne Pollard on the steps of Sangina's Pet Parlour in the early 1980s

The sweet shop where I spent my Victorian pennies was at 48: Mrs. Lowe’s tobacconist shop, which became The Handy Stores. There, I deliberated over pink shrimps, flying saucers, sherbet dips and gobstoppers. Next door at 50 was Walter Lear’s dairy before Loveday’s, the popular bakery on the corner.

Well, we’ve now walked around Oxhey’s main shopping area. I stress ‘main’, but I’d better not leave out the Co-Op on Pinner Road, at the Oxhey Avenue junction. Who could ever forget a parent’s thrill when their ‘divi’ book was fully stamped! There was a Victorian letterbox on the Pinner Road side of the Co-Op wall; the mismatched bricks mark its position before its untimely removal years ago. And I can’t forget Sheila’s Pantry, the popular grocery shop at 125 Pinner Road. Oxhey’s residents were well served with food shops, pubs and practical stores, a short walk and several friendly chats, away.

Lesley Dunlop is the daughter of the late Ted Parrish, a well-known local historian and documentary filmmaker. He wrote 96 nostalgic articles for the ‘Evening Post-Echo’ in 1982-83 which have since been published in ‘Echoes of Old Watford, Bushey & Oxhey’, available at and Bushey Museum. Lesley is currently working on ‘Two Lives, Two World Wars’, a companion volume that explores her father’s and grandfather’s lives and war experiences, in which Watford, Bushey and Oxhey’s history will take to the stage once again.