Leslie's of Hadleigh

A Hadleigh store 1958-1987

Leslie's Stores early 1950s
Chris Worpole
Leslie's Stores
Chris Worpole
Advertisement 1953
Chris Worpole
Leslie's of Hadleigh the day it closed
Advertisement 1953
Kingsway Parade 1950s
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.

Comments about this page

Add your own comment

  • The picture of some of Kingsway Parade just misses my dad’s shop by one on the right, it’s Ware Traders, the fish and chip shop and bang, the end! I remember the brothers well, they were pals with my dad, and he bought some stuff from them at times. Was that pic taken from Yeaxlees opposite or the cinema? Who knows……..and Carol, that is interesting about the bedding plants. My mum and dad eventually came out to Oz to live with us, and passed away in the 80’s….my mum was a ‘cuppa’ person always……

    By Don Thompson (01/03/2018)
  • 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 (18/09/2015)
  • 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 (01/01/2014)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *