Watford High Street Shops and More

Jeremy Prior

Jackson Jewellers
Watford Museum

The Jewellers in the High Street may have been Jacksons. They were the oldest in the town and founded in 1876. Their business was sort of opposite Clements Department Store roughly where there’s a flyover cutting right through the original store building. Jackson’s shop was on a site that dates back to about 1500. I often walked past Jacksons on my way to Choir Practice so never had time to stare in the window and drool over the lovely wrist-watches on sale there.

They were only a few doors down from Elliotts Music Shop who sold pianos records and musical instruments as well as Radios and Radiograms.

A provisions shop?

Further to Ross King’s comment. I wish I could remember the name of the store he says was East off the High Street. The only two roads that were turnings off the High Street were Clarendon Road by Garners Bakery, and which had the Palace Theatre and Carlton Cinema in, but I don’t remember a Provisions shop there. Or Queens Road which had Trewins (John Lewis owned store) and Watford School of Music plus a few shops in the first half of Queens Road such as Television Dealers and that kind of thing.

I do remember a small corner shop down the end of Queens Road almost by the Horse-Trough opposite Fyffes Bananas depot. This was a little provisions shop which my Father used to go to and purchase items that were against the Sunday Trading laws which I think then forbade selling anything other than cigarettes tobacco and sweets – and people used to go and buy the things in the food line which they’d forgotten to get on Saturday and customers would leave the shop with a cardboard box covered in a cloth to prevent anyone seeing them breaking the law.

It was all very clandestine illegal trading that mostly the law turned a blind eye to. The law now seems archaic but we all know how Sunday trading laws only recently changed to allow food and anything to be purchased on the Christian Sabbath. Funny old world eh?

Cawdells and Santa’s Grotto

Cawdells dept store was always amusing when they ran the Santa’s Grotto and we as kids were put into a fake sleigh ride that was a kind of box that groddled about on a motorized simulated waves like a kiddies boat. While it was slowly grinding up and down they would wind the scenery past the windows by rolling them past on a canvas painted roll that made very young kids think they were going forwards on a journey.

It didn’t fool my brother and I and we were under strict instructions not to make comments that would spoil anything about Santa. They’d then ferry us out of a different door than the one we entered on. We’d walk down a tunnel to meet Santa and be given some sop of a present and asked what we wanted for Christmas. Santa would make some encouraging remark and we’d all file out and go home with whatever bunch of disappointment we’d been given as a token.

My friend Geoff got a good prize from Clements the other store though, he entered a competition in-store to race Scalectrix cars against other members of the public and he won so many times that they gave him first prize – a new Scalectrix set.

Does anyone remember The Maypole?

Does anyone remember The Maypole a kind of dairy orientated delicatessen opposite the end of Market Street. Or Findlaters the posh Off Licence. I also remember Mac Fisheries in that same row of shops and Perrings Furniture store which had a fire gutting the place. Before it burned out they had a Foot Massage machine in the entrance that was in use even after the shop was closed at 5.30pm and you could stand on the platform like weighing scales and put Sixpence in (6d as it was abbreviated) and it would vibro massage your feet and you could feel it right up your legs. After it finished it was like walking on air.

Finally on today’s contribution does anyone remember the machine on Watford High Street Station that you could put tuppence in and it would stamp an alluminium label or nameplate for your briefcase like some mighty Dymo Tape machine and you had to wind a big clockface arm around a circle to choose the Letter or Figure you wanted stamped on the label. Then you’d press a big lever and CLANGK it would stamp it on the label which came spewing out of the front letter by letter on an ever lengthening strip. Then you pulled it out to discover you’d made a spelling mistake or not put a full stop on it. All very disappointing but nevertheless fun for kids who were not easily bored and very easily entertained.

This page was added on 04/11/2009.

Comments about this page

  • Can anyone tell me anything about the Bodena or Bodina Cafe, Watford, please?

    By Barbara (10/06/2021)
  • Used to love a visit to the clock and watch repairers run by the Pope family. An amazing dark and atmospheric place with so many clocks – fascinating when Im was small and Dad took me there. I know it moved to MArket Street from the original shop b ut not when it ceased to be trading.

    By Sally-Anne Walsh (25/10/2020)
  • I remember Jackson’s. Above it was a restaurant called the Copper Kettle back in the early 70’s. Me and a mate took our girlfriends there for dinner one night, we must have all be about 14. We felt so sophisticated 🙂

    By Mick Gurney (17/07/2020)
  • Hi, does anyone remember a shop, crafts and pottery shop called Pots and Pieces in 61 Market Street, Watford. I am trying to trace who made a lovely Pottery vase which bears a shop label with this on. Supplied by Pots and Pieces, Hand Made Pottery. Tel 37253 . Thanks

    By Jo Harmes (20/06/2018)
  • Hi im researching my family tree and wondered if anyone remember the Tailors or clothiers at 77 Queens road, Watford run by the Barker family 1930-1975…thanks in advance if you do.

    By Lorrainne Loudon (25/04/2018)
  • Yes, the photo is definitely of Jacksons Jewellers. I know because I was bought a ring there long ago. Morse Jewellers was nice too, and Findlaters the posh off-licence.
    People are so right about Watford having been torn to pieces. I am due to spend a weekend in the town soon and have no idea how I’m going to find my way about!

    By Celia Savage (23/11/2017)
  • A couple of years late but in responce to Nicola Hall’s request for information about Halls Tobacconist in St Albans Rd it springs to mind that in the mid 1920’s the Stanborough Park Post Office, Newsagent, Confectioner and Tobacconist on St Albans Rd was run by an L C Hall. thats about 15-20 Years early too early I guess but I wonder if there is any link. (there is a great photo of this shop from 1924.)

    By Peter Blundell (05/06/2017)
  • I was born in Croxley Green but went to school at the Central School, Derby Road, from 44 till 50 when the whole school was moved up to the Bushey Grammar School in Aldenham Road next to the Royal Masonic school for Boys.I used to cycle along the Ricky Road, down High Street, through Water lane ,under the rail bridge and up the hill to B.G.School. Headmaster was Mr. F.J.P. O’Connor, tall imposing figure. I left the area to join Royal Navy in 1953 and have not returned since parents passed on late 90’s.Great seeing old pictures and reading accounts of childhood.

    By Peter E.Wright (04/02/2017)
  • I bought my first ever 78rpm record from ELLIOTS in 1948, 12th Street Rag by Pee Wee Hunt and his City Slickers, when I attended the Central School in Derby Road, just down off Queens Road near the Standard Range company. I used to look in Jacksons window when I left the Carlton cinema in Clarendon Road after the pictures every Thursday night.

    By Peter E.Wright (03/02/2017)
  • About a year or so ago, the shop at 185 St Albans Road was being renovated following a change of ownership. For a brief time the fascia was removed, revealing another saying “Hall’s”. Meant to take a picture, but it was covered up again before I got round to it. It had been a confectioners for a long time under various owners then it changed purpose several times rapidly. At one point there was a fire, I believe,and it was derelict for quite a while. Currently being refurbed for another incarnation,

    By Michael King (16/12/2016)
  • Jill Orchard, no your not losing it. Gade house was the opposite side to Clements but further up near pond. Yes it did have a pool just inside the door, because I threw money in as well. Gade house sold everything, very popular. I too loved the carnival. We used to stand outside our house in Rickmansworth Road, right opposite the truly beautiful entrance of Cassiobury Park .How could it have been pulled down. The gates held such a special place in all Watfordian’s hearts. Change goes with the times, but oh to go back again.

    By barbara skrzypek (10/04/2016)
  • With reference to Jacksons the jewellers. I believe they were established after Morse the Jewellers, which was based near Watford High Street Station, closed.
    Morse had a large clock, protruding over the footpath, which advertised their name. I believe also that they were probably the oldest high class jewellers in Watford. They were near what was called then, Adams Tea Plantation, who roasted coffee in their shop window, the smell of roasting coffee attracted a lot of people to this location.

    By Arthur Hall (09/02/2016)
  • To Jill Orchard: you ask if some one remember Gade House. In 1967 I came from Finland to learn English and worked at Gade House for two months as a 18 year old girl. I’d like to get in contact with people working there then. A girl called Wendy worked at the office at that same time and introduced me to the work at the thelephone switch board. My memories from Gade House are otherwise ver vague. But I remember it being a big ware house.

    By Karin Luther (26/07/2015)
  • Does anyone remember gade house in the high street? I’ve been chatting to my mum today who lived in Watford from 1959 to 1977 but she has no recollection of the shop. I remember there being a little pond in just inside the door and people used to throw coins in it, and there was a santa sleigh ride there at xmas time. I’m not sure if it’s mum or me losing the plot!

    By Jill Orchard (10/06/2015)
  • Hi I don’t know if anybody can help but I am looking for some information about a tobacconists in St Albans Road, Watford. I was called Halls and belonged to my Grandad in the 1940’s I think. From talking to my dad he said they were not there for long but would love to find a photo of the shop and hear of any memories people have about the place.

    By Nichola Hall (03/05/2015)
  • Hi Nicola, thank you for your enquiry.

    I’m afraid we cannot locate Halls in the Kelly’s Directories for 1941, 42, 47 or 49.

    Do you know the rough location of Halls, as we may have a photograph in Museum Collection which shows the name on the front of the store?

    Luke Clark
    Collections Officer

    By Luke Clark (14/05/2015)
  • There are some wonderful recollections on this page, rendered all the more poignant because the Watford that we all remember has ceased to exist. I went to Holy Rood School in the centre of town and remember my pals and I going to the Home and Colonial store for a penny bag of broken biscuits or to the sweet shop in Market Street for a frozen Jublee – after three sucks you were left with a flavourless block of ice! At Christmas we went up the fire escape to the roof of Clements to look down on the Christmas lights, the magic of which still lives with me! Clements was posh and Cawdells less so. To the market for jeans, records and shellfish (as someone eslse mentions). As I grew up we visited the pubs (Green Man, Woodman, Dog etc) Seeing the Who at the Odd Fellows Hall; Billy Fury at the Gaumont etc. I remember Cersales ice cream van on Sunday afternoons (a real treat in those days). The street behind mine was supplied by Toni’s – obviously a trade demarcation agreement had taken place! I was at a rugby club dinner many years ago, sitting next to a Watford Councillor and I told him that successive councils had destroyed Watford and that was why I had (then) moved to St Albans where they protected their heritage. He ignored me for the rest of the dinner!

    By Kevin McMahon (14/05/2013)
  • I was looking for a picture of Cawdells in Watford when I came across this site. My mother used to work there and I was feeling nostalgic. I didn’t expect to see all these memories… so intersting. I was a teenager in the 1960s and I do remember all the places (and shops) people are talking about here. It’s triggered so many memories… first Saturday job in Woolworths at the end of the High Street… meeting up in Lyons Corner House (top floor) with all the other wannabe mods…. I didn’t see any mention of The House of Taurus. My friend and I used to bunk off school and go down there… I’m sure I remember seeing Donovan with his guitar there but that might be a false memory. I, too went to The Trade, Saturday and Sunday, and saw so many great groups…. I remember the Who (High Numbers), The Hollies, Cliff Bennet, Nashville Teens… Yardbirds…. too many to mention. Also great dances at Kingham Hall, Oddfellows Hall, Greycaines Hall…and always on the lookout for that guy who used to promise to get you tickets for Ready, Steady Go. I remember going to that trndy sandwich bar called The Munchery…. and the day they pulled it down to make way for that blasted flyover through the town. What a mess they made of it all. Suprisingly one of the best places to see groups was Woodside Community Centre. I saw John Lee Hooker there, The Steam Packet with Rod (the mod) Stewart and Long John Baldry, …. lots of others. Always packed with mods and those exotic boys who had come all the way from Abbotts Langley and Hemel Hempstead….. Happy days.

    By Pat (26/10/2012)
  • Have become very engrossed in reading all the memories of Watford and it’s now very late but feel I must add to the comments. I moved to Oxhey from London Colney at the age of 3 in 1957 and lived there until I moved to the Bedford area aged 20. As I still have family in Watford I visit regularly and sadly have seen, in my opinion the heart ripped out of the town across the years. I also have many fond memories of Watford. I too have very vivid memories of visiting Cawdells at Christmastime and riding in a huge white swan whilst scenery past by, eventually arriving to visit Father Christmas – magical! I remember eating cockles with my Dad at the market stall and being given a tiny hand of bananas by a Market Trader. Running up and down the grand staircase and sliding down the banisters in Gade House! The little house on the pond at Christmas that was all lit up. Mum queing for bread at the Chef Corner house during the shortage. The shop that sold roasted coffee was “Importers Coffee Shop” Mum always used to buy Blue Mountain. Wonderful memories of Cassiobury Park where my Mum and Dad met during the War, Mum being a Nanny who had come to Watford from Holland just before the War. Dad was sitting on a park bench in Cassiobury Park and Mum asked him the time whilst out pushing her charges in the pram – needless to say this was the start of a beautiful relationship and Mum made her home here in England with Dad their first home together being in Bricket Wood. I worked at the Nat West Bank also the Leicester Permanent Building Society as it was then. My Saturday job when still at school was at Freeman Hardy and Willis the shoe shop. I loved the Carnival and would always stand up by the pond with a “waver” of shredded tissue paper I would also always get a black ballon with a zulu type face on it and a coloured feather. I have wonderful memories of Cassiobury Park, taking my dog Toby on the 346/347 bus and walking through the wonderful old Park Gates to the river Gade and throwing sticks into the water for him. Also fishing with my net and swimming with my lilo. I am pleased to say that my children have also enjoyed similar pleasures in Cassiobury Park including the wonderful train ride which I intend taking my Grandchildren on hopefully next Spring/Summer as well as paddling in the pools. I could go on forever but must finish now – it’s good to share happy memories with those who have experienced similar. Viv Hawkey 28/11/2011

    By Vivien Hawkey nee Moore (29/11/2011)
  • WOW!! Such wonderful memories. I was born in Watford and went to Chater School. I worked in the fashion dept of Cawdells on leaving school. And during school holidays worked in the Chef corner which was opposite Fine Fare, near the Pond at the top end of the High Street. And can anyone the remember Jax fashions just opposite the St Mary’s church yard and the fresh ground coffee shop opposite M&S. I also remember a family by the name of Martindale who lived in a road off Harwoods Road. Lots of memories of Vicarage Road and the Hospital and shops especially Westons fish and chip shop, Betty’s wool shop, Clarks butchers, Yorkshire bakery.

    By Margaret Snowdon nee Ashcroft (03/02/2011)
  • I am trying to identify some film footage which could be Watford in the late ’60’s. Could anyone who knew the town centre during this period please visit: http://www.britmovie.co.uk/forums/topic/26447-unused-footage-of-the-saints-volvo/ Building include a theatre/cinema and a Woolworths. Feedback would be appreciated.

    By Anthony McKay (29/09/2010)
  • Watford, my home, lovely memories of my past. I’m talking about 1970 until 1980 , i’ll never forget my first film seen at the cinema ” Grease” and the saturday shopping at high street with my friends , fantastic memory of chater school where i used to go when i was only 9 years old and endly with our bikes riding through the park and seeing the squirells running away as we rushed down the lanes, can’t wait to return to my native home with all my wonderfull memories since i left to go to live in Italy.

    By Lina (pasqualina) on11/04/2010 (11/04/2010)
  • Thank you, that is the name of the jewellers. also, MacFisheries would have been where mum bought the sprats.

    By Hilly Buckman (07/01/2010)

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