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My Gran watching the world go by

Oxford Street/London Road photographed in the 1970s
James Gray collection: The Regency Society

My gran used to live in London Road in the 60s 70s and 80s in a flat above Elliott’s tool shop between Francis Street and Oxford Street. She had a large bay window on the first floor giving a great view over the street and all its comings and goings. She would spend hours sitting there watching all the crowds thronging up and down the street below, getting to know who was going where, when and why.

Watching the ‘old crocks’ race

We used to visit her most Saturdays joining in with the people watching, commenting on various characters and activities. It was also a great viewing point for the old crocks race with the competitors waving at us in the window. Most days she would go to the Open Market via the Francis Street entrance which was just across the road from her gated entrance there.

The Doctor Who police box

I also remember the Doctor Who police box at that entrance. Sadly she has passed away now and I am not sure if the lovely Edwardian flat she had there is now lived in. We moved to Cornwall some years ago and still have fond memories of the area and am quite shocked about the descriptions of the state of the area now.

Comments about this page

  • Elliott’s tool shop had one fascination for a small boy in the 1950s… a window display of the yellow boxes of Dinky Toys; the only other nearby purveyor was Bradshaws along at Preston Circus who had a foyer window display along the north wall of the entrance. London Rd has its problems [see elsewhere on this site] but there are green-shoots of revival, with the new housing nearby and the range of food shops and cafes reflecting the social changes in the area recently.

    By Geoffrey Mead (09/05/2019)
  • What was the name of the (former) pub on the corner of Oxford Street and London Road in the photo?

    By Michael Schouten (11/05/2019)
  • Mechanics Arms was run by Bill and Ethel Burtanshaw. The live in barmaid was Ethel Parsloe (my nan).

    By peter pollard (15/02/2021)
  • I have discovered my Great Great Grandmother was born in the Mechanics Arms in 1870, her Grandad was running it in 1871 census, Frederick Smith. Any idea when it closed?

    By Lucy Ball (25/11/2021)

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