Leslie's of Hadleigh

Photo:Leslie's Stores early 1950s

Leslie's Stores early 1950s

Chris Worpole

Photo:Leslie's Stores

Leslie's Stores

Chris Worpole

Photo:Advertisement 1953

Advertisement 1953

Chris Worpole

Photo:Leslie's of Hadleigh the day it closed

Leslie's of Hadleigh the day it closed

Photo:Advertisement 1953

Advertisement 1953

Photo:Ware Traders 1950s

Ware Traders 1950s

Chris Worpole

A Hadleigh store 1958-1987

By Chris Worpole

Many residents of Hadleigh still remember my parents, Les and Margaret Worpole, who owned Leslie’s of Hadleigh at 341 London Road, Hadleigh from 1958 to 1987. But how many people remember my father running Leslie’s Stores at 290 London Road, on the corner with Oak Road South (now Lidl)?

Leslie’s Stores opened in about 1951 and was owned by my grandfather Jack Worpole, who owned another business in Leytonstone Road, Stratford, called Leslie’s of Stratford. After my grandfather’s death in 1957, my father had his own shop built on the other side of the road (the building is now owned by Essex Carpets and Flooring). All three stores were builders’ merchants supplying sanitary ware, tiles, paint and Yorkshire fittings for plumbing. The advertisement for the original store dates from 1953.

My father died on 7 June 1962 and my mother Margaret, who was always known to her customers as ‘Mrs. Leslie’ continued to run the store, even though she had two young daughters – myself and my younger sister Gill. In the 1960s she was helped in the store by a manager, Mike Forshaw, and a young assistant, Roger. Eventually, she ran the store all on her own, with help from my sister on Saturdays. People in Hadleigh still reminisce about my Mum and have fond memories of her. In 1987, at the age of seventy-one, she decided to retire. The photograph of her with my sister Gill with her one-year-old son Tim was taken on 14 August 1987, the day the shop closed. Mum enjoyed her retirement for another sixteen years and was a devoted grandmother to her two grandsons.

 

Two other members of the Worpole family also traded at Hadleigh in the 1950s – Percy Worpole, who was my grandfather’s elder brother, and his son John. As can be seen from the advertisement, they sold sanitary ware seconds at Ware Traders at 6 Kingsway Parade (now Moore's Shoe Repairs, 206 London Road). Incidentally, there are still Worpoles working as builders’ merchants - my cousins John and Bob Worpole, who took over Leslie’s of Stratford following my uncle George’s death.

This page was added by Chris Worpole on 23/07/2013.
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As a matter of interest, my father had his business two shops up from Ware Traders at 8 Kingsway Parade. In 1945/6 he opened as a French Polisher with secondhand furniture and antiques, shop title 'Don Thompson' and he kept that going for a few years, until he was bitten by the tropical fish bug, started breeding exotic fish in our back room and converted his business into a pet shop and tropical fish salon. When I left school in 1950 I took over half the shop selling fishing gear, including maggots! Dad was good friends with Percy Worpole and I of course knew both Percy and John well too. My mother and father were ex vaudeville performers and frequently performed although retired at the Kingsway Cinema during movie intervals, because coincidentally the manager of the time was Gus Keeling, an old stage associate of theirs before the war and he book them for the occasional fill in. Sometimes, an old comedian friend, George Weston who earlier in life performed with Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel and Bud Flanagan in 'Fred Karno's Army' before Chaplin and Laurel went to America to make their fortunes. No. 1 Kingsway Parade in those early years was a restaurant, I cannot recall the owners, but I remember vividly the daughter of the owner [I believe her name was Sandra] came to stay with us at No.8 for some months. Legend has it she married a prince somewhere in the far East!
Eventually my father became an expert breeder of ornamental coldwater fish, with many tanks full of juvenile blackamoors, otherwise known as 'telecopic eyed black gold fish'. He had contracts for sales all over Essex and London with major aquariums and fish dealers. Tragedy struck when the waterboard accidentally flooded the water supply with excess chlorine and destroyed all the fish in dad's possession. It so affected him that he immediately got out of the pet business and reverted to antiques and furniture, working part time in the fish and chip shop next door at No.7 Kingsway Parade. Just a little bit of history, stimulated by the Worpole story.
 

 

By Don Thompson
On 01/01/2014

Hello Don, 

Your post has brought back some vague memories to me.

I think my father supplied your father with bedding plants for his shop. As a child I used to go with Dad on his deliveries. As a child you only get 'feelings', but I remember being pleased if my father said we were going to your father's shop! Your mother would ask him if he 'wanted a cup of tea', and we would go through the back and they would chat. The shop was definitely a furniture shop at that time. Can't remember exact dates, but probably very early 60's? 

By Carol Watt
On 18/09/2015