Mazi is a small Turkish restaurant at 81 London Road, soon to celebrate its 15th year in West Croydon.
Late 1890s–early 1900s: Construction of the building, and A Parsons, fruiterer
As noted in my article on number 79, numbers 79–87 were built in the late 1890s as a five-property terrace, replacing an older pair of semi-detached houses. First to arrive at the new number 81 was The Fruit Stores, run by fruiterer A Parsons. This, however, had a very short tenure, arriving around 1900 but gone again by the start of 1902.
1900s–1910s: Egleton Bros, hardware merchants
The next occupant lasted rather longer. Egleton Bros, hardware merchants, was in place by 1902. This company was the successor to F A Egleton, which for the previous four decades had sold oils, paints, ironmongery, glass, wallpaper, and other such items at 5 London Road before being wound up in late 1901. F A Egleton had been run by Frederick Alfred Egleton, latterly with the help of his sons Walter Fred Egleton and Louis John Egleton. Egleton Bros itself was initially a partnership between Walter and Louis, but this partnership was dissolved in December 1905 and Walter continued the business alone.
Walter may have had some help from his father in doing this, despite the departure of his brother; certainly, Frederick was living at number 81 when he died on 30 October 1909. Walter’s mother Harriett continued to live with her son for at least a couple of years after her husband’s death. Around 1912, Egleton Bros opened another branch at number 67, and around 1920 it departed number 81 for good.
1920s: C H Baber Ltd
Next to arrive, and in place by 1921, was C H Baber Ltd, a footwear company founded by Croydon resident Charles Henry Baber. It seems to have had some connection to the Canadian Shoe Stores further up London Road at number 335. By 1922 Charles was also trading at 309 Oxford Street in central London, and by the end of 1924 he had closed his London Road shop and opened a new one on Regent Street. Around this time, the company changed its name, trading as both Babers Ltd (on Oxford Street) and Charles H Baber Ltd (on Regent Street).
The company specialised in fitting shoes — including those of the fashionable type — to all shapes and widths of feet. Charles himself published a pamphlet in September 1925 exhorting people to “accord [their feet] the utmost care and consideration”, stating that:
[...] to ensure a perfect fit — without which foot-comfort is an impossibility — I find it necessary to stock at least 18 different lengths, and no less than 130 different widths, and I require no fewer than 324 sizes and fittings from which to select. [...] it is necessary, in addition, to this range of sizes to stock at least 300 different styles, such as laced shoes, strap shoes, evening shoes, in all shapes, colours and qualities and for all occasions, morning, afternoon and evening.
J Ellis Barker, editor of the journal Heal Thyself, described in the July 1934 edition of said journal a visit to Charles H Baber’s shop:
I went to the shop in Regent Street but felt very sceptical. During more than half a century I had tried in vain to obtain a ready-made shoe that would fit me.
To my amazement they fitted me in a minute with the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. They enable me to do tramps of thirty miles a day and at the same time they are as comfortable as well-worn slippers. [...] After fitting me with the best shoes I have ever had, a painstaking attendant took me to an X-ray apparatus which clearly showed that the shoes selected were not only comfortable, but were physiologically correct.
Charles was also the inventor of the “Heel-to-Ball” foot fitting method (as opposed to heel-to-toe), which he described in the abovementioned pamphlet as “the only system of foot measurement which can rightfully be described as scientific”. He noted that he was:
[...] most anxious that all who read this booklet should realize that there is a vast difference between foot fitting and shoe selling. Anyone can sell shoes, but few can fit a foot.
mid-1920s: Lee’s China & Glass Warehouse
A business known as Lee’s China & Glass Warehouse put in a brief appearance after the departure of Charles Baber. This may have been run by Doris Lee, a “comedienne” who lived in the premises around the same time — or, perhaps, it might have been run by one of her relatives, as Doris appears to have been a touring artiste, performing in venues including Montpellier Gardens in Cheltenham and Victoria Pier in Folkestone. In any case, the china shop was in place by 1924, but gone again by early 1925.
1920s–1930s: Lewis & Lewis, tailors and outfitters
Next to arrive was Lewis & Lewis, a firm of tailors and outfitters which moved here from nearby Derby Road by 1926. It expanded into number 79 next door around 1930, and remained in this double property until at least 1939.
The outbreak of war may have brought an end to Lewis & Lewis, and indeed could also have led to a decade-long vacancy at the property. Lewis & Lewis is absent from London phone books post-1939, and a couple of late 1940s photographs in the collection at Croydon Local Studies show numbers 79 and 81 as vacant and in a dilapidated state which suggests they had been vacant for some time.
1950s: R A P Radio, radio rentals
Number 81 was finally brought back into use in the early 1950s with the arrival of radio rental firm R A P Radio, an offshoot of the radio manufacturer R A P Ltd (standing for “Radio Acoustic Products”). This manufacturer was active by late 1934, and originally based at Ferry Works in Thames Ditton. By 1939, it was offering radio rentals from locations including Regent Street, Surbiton, Ealing, and Hornsey.
By 1945, R A P had moved its manufacturing business to Fullers Way in Surbiton; and this is the address from which it made its application to set up at 81 London Road. It was in place on London Road by mid-October 1951, and used the premises as both its head office and its South London sales and servicing department.
Benefits advertised to rental customers included a “splendid range of models” with “[n]o big cash expenditure” and “no repair bills”. Installation, repairs, and replacements — “valves and everything” — were all free. Despite all this, the company only lasted a couple of years in Croydon, until around 1954; and its departure from London Road also seems to have signalled its end entirely.
1960s: Gina, hair stylist
It’s unclear what the premises were used for immediately after the departure of R A P, but by mid-1959 a new occupant was in place: Gina, hair stylist. This appears to have used both the ground floor and the first floor of the building, and remained until around 1970 or 1971.
Gina specialised in “the latest method of cold permanent waving”, offered at a fixed price of £2 2s 0d (£45 in 2014 prices), as well as “Continental techniques of roller setting” at 6s 6d including shampoo — or a shilling extra on Saturdays (£6.75 and £7.80 respectively in 2014 prices).
1970s: Saunas and solariums
By early 1972, the roller sets and permanent waves had been replaced by a sauna and solarium known as Eva. This also offered massage and “slimming” services, and occupied the ground floor and basement. It was renamed to Candy’s around 1977, but closed down for good around 1980.
1980s–1990s: Marksman Industrial, Gill Auto Parts, and S R G Skytravel
Marksman Industrial, an offshoot of the Alfred Marks Bureau, made a brief appearance on the first floor around 1979–1980. This, like its parent company, was an employment agency, in this case focusing on industrial jobs. It’s unclear how long it remained here.
Replacing Candy’s on the ground floor was Gill Auto Parts, in place by 1982. This specialised in Mercedes and Peugot parts, as well as “all the continental range”. By April 1984 this had been joined by S R G Skytravel, a travel agency specialising in cheap flights to destinations including West Africa, India, and Pakistan. S R G Skytravel appears to have begun on the first floor, and replaced Gill Auto Parts on the ground floor in the early 1990s.
By the start of 2001, West Croydon already had a small Turkish enclave focused around this part of London Road. Migros, a Turkish and Greek supermarket, had opened at numbers 83–85 around 1997, and the Turkish Food Centre at numbers 73–77 had followed a couple of years later. However, the area lacked a proper Turkish restaurant. Ejder Mazi, a Croydon resident of Turkish origin, found himself having to travel to North London to get good Turkish food, and decided to do something about this. Already with catering experience from having worked in various Thornton Heath kebab shops, he made plans to open his own restaurant at 81 London Road. He bought the lease from S R G Skytravel, and Mazi restaurant opened in 2001.
Mazi specialises in meat cooked over a charcoal grill: lamb shish, liver kebab, chicken wings, lamb chops, and plenty more. Various stews are also available from the hot counter at the front of the restaurant — lamb with butter beans, or chicken meatballs with potatoes, or perhaps lamb with aubergines and potatoes.
Thanks to: Ejder Mazi; Lorne Clark of the British Vintage Wireless Society; Shoe Icons; the Planning Technical Support Team at Croydon Council; all at the Croydon Local Studies Library; my dining companions bob, Martin, and Sarah; and my beta-readers bob and Shuri. Census data and London phone books consulted via Ancestry.co.uk.
Administrative note: Normally the next article in this series would be due on 18 December 2015, but as this is just a week before Christmas, I’m postponing it to 8 January 2016. See you in the New Year!
Footnotes and references
- Ward’s directories list “four shops unoccupied” (contemporary numbers 57-63, corresponding to modern numbers 81–87) in 1899, “unoccupied” (modern 81) in 1900, A Parsons, fruiterer, in 1901, and Egleton Bros, hardware merchants, from 1902 onwards. Note that the information for these directories was generally gathered in October and November of the preceding year. The 1901 census just lists “(Shop)”. The name “The Fruit Shop” comes from an old sign uncovered at some point and visible during 2008–2009; see for example the October 2009 photo reproduced here, or Google Street View image from July 2008. As far as I know, A Parsons was the only fruiterer to trade at this address, and the sign certainly looks old enough to be from c.1901.
- See my article on number 5 for more information on F A Egleton, including its winding-up. Walter and Louis are listed as Frederick’s sons in the 1881 and 1901 censuses, living with him at 5 London Road. In the 1901 census, Walter is a 24-year-old “Ironmongers Asst” [assistant] and Louis is a 21-year-old “Traveller (Ironmongery)” [travelling salesperson]. (The 1891 census lists them both as boarders at Tudor Hall School in Hawkhurst, Kent.) F A Egleton’s full name is taken from his entry in the GOV.UK “Find a Will” search, and Walter and Louis’ full names are taken from the partnership dissolution notice referenced below.
- The dissolution of the partnership between Walter and Louis was reported on p8757 of the 5 December 1905 London Gazette, including the information that “All debts due to and owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said Walter Fred Egleton, who will continue the business.” Walter kept not only the business but also the name; despite the departure of one of the “bros” [brothers], Ward’s directories list “Egleton Bros” throughout. Indeed, Walter also seems to have considered the business to be a direct continuation of the one run by his father, as by 1911 he was placing newspaper advertisements claiming that Egleton Bros had been established in 1887, when he himself had only been about 10 years old. An advert at the top of page 5 of the 14 January 1911 Croydon Advertiser reads: “Established 1887. Egleton Bros., Builders’ Hardware, Lead, Glass, Colour and Paperhangings Merchants. 57, London Road, Croydon. Warehouses Parson’s Mead.” (viewed on microfilm at Croydon Local Studies; note that number 57 was renumbered to 81 in 1927). It’s not clear why Walter chose the date of 1887, as according to Ward’s directories F A Egleton was in business rather earlier, by 1876 at least, and an advertisement in Ward’s 1892 (see my article on 5 London Road for a reproduction) states that it was actually established in 1867.
- Walter’s date of death and residence at the time are taken from his entry in the GOV.UK “Find a Will” search, which also states that he left effects of only £90 (just over £9500 in 2014 prices, according to the Bank of England Inflation Calculator). The 1911 census lists Walter (aged 34 and still single) along with his mother Harriett [sic] (aged 68 and a widow) and his sister Amy (29 and single). Census forms in 1911 were filled in by the householders themselves, and one can be fairly confident that Walter would have known how to spell his mother’s name, so “Harriett” is likely her preferred spelling rather than a spelling mistake.
- Ward’s directories list Egleton Bros at number 81 up to and including 1920, and at number 67 from 1913 to 1939 inclusive (1939 being the final edition of this series of directories).
Ward’s directories list C H Baber Ltd, Bootmakers, at 57 London Road (modern 81) in 1921, 1922, and 1923. The April 1920 London phone book lists Charles Henry Baber, “Boot, Shoe Agt [Agent]”, at 288–292 Regent Street; possibly Charles working on behalf of someone else. The April 1921 London phone book lists C H Baber, Boot Retailers, at 57 London Road and 3 Grand Parade, Croydon (now 335 London Road); these two addresses are bracketed together, confirming that they were the same company. Ward’s street directories, however, list the Canadian Shoe Stores at the Grand Parade address from 1921 until at least 1928. The October 1922 London phone book lists C H Baber Ltd, Footwear, at 57 London Road, Croydon, and 309 Oxford Street, W1, again bracketed together. The October 1924 London phone book lists Babers Ltd, Foot Fitters, at 309 Oxford Street and Charles H Baber, Foot Fitter, at 308 Regent Street.
As for Charles’ residence in Croydon, he’s listed at Coombe Corner, South Park Hill Road, in the April 1920 London phone book and in Ward’s 1921 and 1922 directories. He then moved to The Quarries, 59 Coombe Road, and is listed there in London phone books from October 1922 to October 1925 at least, and in Ward’s directories from 1923 to 1928 inclusive. Ward’s 1929 directory has 59 Coombe Road (now renumbered to 97) as “Unoccupied”, and Charles Baber is absent from the alphabetical list of principal residents. (The 1920 phone book has his road as “South Hill Park Road”, and Ward’s 1921 spells his surname as “Baker”, but these are clearly just typographical mistakes.)
I have no direct proof that the Charles H Baber living on South Park Hill Road and later Coombe Road was the same Charles H Baber who founded Charles H Baber Ltd/Babers Ltd; but he's the only one in the London phone book, and the evidence does seem to suggest that Babers Ltd was originally set up in Croydon and then moved to Central London.
Regarding the possible Canadian connection, one suggestive piece of evidence is the coincidence of addresses mentioned above, with Ward’s directories listing the Canadian Shoe Stores at an address that the London phone books insist belongs to C H Baber. Another is the fact that C H Baber is listed among the “United Kingdom Merchants and Distributors handling various miscellanous lines” at the Canadian Industries Exhibition in London in June 1920 (see page 112 of the July 12 1920 Canadian Department of Trade and Commerce Weekly Bulletin, viewed online at the Internet Archive).
- “How I ensure Foot-Comfort without loss of Smartness or Beauty”, by Charles H Baber, published by Charles H Baber Ltd, 304–306 Regent Street. First quotation from page 6; longer quotation from page 12. Viewed at the Wellcome Library (shelfmark: WE880 1925B11h).
- Heal Thyself (The Homœopathic World), Vol LXIX (1934), No 823 (July), pp412–415, “Bad Feet” by J Ellis Barker. Viewed at the British Library (shelfmark: General Reference Collection P.P.3292.m). Ellis attributes the design of these shoes to “my friend, Sir Herbert Barker, the famous manipulating surgeon, the highest authority on the disorders of the feet”, who “had devised a special shoe made on natural physiological lines and [...] induced Mr. Charles H. Baber, of 302 Regent Street, to manufacture it.”
- Quotations from pages 8 and 27 of the abovementioned pamphlet.
- Ward’s directories list C H Baber Ltd up to and including 1923, Lee’s China & Glass Warehouse in 1924, and “unoccupied” in 1925. London phone books list Doris Lee, “Comedienne”, in October 1923 and April 1924. A British Newspaper Archive search on “Doris Lee comedienne” produced several newspaper articles from 1909, 1910, 1925, and 1930 with adverts listing various touring groups with Doris as a member (note: all links require a British Newspaper Archive subscription): Mr Wallis Arthur’s Comedy Concert Company at Montpellier Gardens, Cheltenham, in June 1909 and in May 1910; the Olympian Concert Party at Clarence Pier, Portsmouth, in September 1909; the Gossips at Victoria Pier, Folkestone, in April 1925; and the Fol-de-Rols at White Rock Pavilion, Hastings, in 1930. She also appears in a report of an “all star” show at the Avenue Club, Biggleswade, in April 1945, which includes the information that she and the other artistes in the show “have been in various theatres of the war entertaining the troops and are expecting to entertain our troops in Burma in the near future.”
- Ward’s directories list Lewis & Lewis at 13 Derby Road in 1923, 1924, and 1925; at 81 London Road from 1926 to 1929 inclusive (actually 57 before 1928, but the change from 57 to 81 was due to a renumbering, not an actual move); and at 79–81 London Road from 1930 to 1939 inclusive (1939 was the final edition of these directories). London phone books list the company at 81 London Road (again, 57 before 1928) from April 1925 to November 1939 inclusive. Note that it was the usual practice in these phone books to only give a single number of an address, rather than a range, even for businesses spanning several shopfronts.
- Photo references: PH/96 2599 and PH/96 2702, both annotated as “Late 1940’s”.
- R A P Rented Radio is listed at 81 London Road in the February 1952, February 1953, and February 1954 London phone books. Regarding the name, Jonathan Hill’s Old Radio Sets includes a photo (on page 22) of an “R A P International [radio set], made by Radio Acoustic Products Ltd. in 1935.”
London phone books from November 1934 to November 1938 inclusive list R A P Ltd, radio manufacturers, at Ferry Works, Thames Ditton (initially with the extra specification that these works were on Summer Road, though this was later dropped — presumably because Ferry Works was well-known enough not to need the road name, rather than because the works moved, as the site is still in use today by companies including NCMT and PRP Architects). Ferry Works, Thames Ditton by B A Lavell states on page 41 that “Before the political intrigues of the thirties enveloped Europe in the Second World War, Ferry Works was divided between a variety of business enterprises, including ‘R.A.P. Radio Manufacturers’ and ‘The Carapart Company’ which specialised in parts for caravans. As the people of Thames Ditton grew accustomed to their ration books, gas masks, identity cards and other restrictive necessities of wartime, the radio manufacturer was replaced by a toy maker, ‘Wilkinson Cox’, and the Carapart Company by ‘Rover Caravans’.” This suggests that R A P was at Ferry Works before the war, and moved out at some point during. The reference given is “Kelly’s Directories: 1930s and 1940s” (which I’ve not yet been able to look at myself).
Jonathan Hill’s Radio! Radio! gives an address of 24 Thames Street, Kingston upon Thames, for “R.A.P., Radio Accoustic [sic] Products Ltd.” in the “Mains Receivers, 1930s—” section of its index, in connection with three models produced in 1935–1936 (page 239); this may have been its retail headquarters.
- The earliest appearance in London phone books of R A P as a radio renter rather than just a manufacturer is in the May 1939 edition, which lists it at 177 Regent Street, W1; 145 Ewell Road, Surbiton; 1 Culmington Parade, W13; and 5 Turnpike Parade, N8.
The manufacturing side of the business is absent from phone books between 1938 and 1945, possibly because it was involved in war work, or possibly because the required materials and employees were in more urgent demand elsewhere (see pages 158–164 of Jonathan Hill’s Radio! Radio! for more on both these possibilities, as well as background on various radio manufacturers’ reappearance after the war). When it reappears in the May 1945 edition, it is listed at Fullers Way, Surbiton. Confusingly, though, the “1940s / Mains Receivers” index in Radio! Radio! still gives the Ferry Works address in connection with two models made in 1946 and 1947 (page 241).
On 24 October 1951, R A P Distribution Ltd, Fullers Way, Surbiton, was granted permission for “use of three rooms at No. 81 London Road, West Croydon, as offices, stores and a radio workshop” (planning application ref 51/742, viewed on microfiche at Croydon Council offices). The firm seems to have already started using the premises for radio rentals by this point, as it was advertising its services in the Croydon Times of 13 October 1951 (quotations in the text are taken from this advert; viewed as a clipping in the firms files at Croydon Local Studies and Archives Service). It would likely not have needed permission for this, as it would not have been considered a change of use from the previous retail use.
R A P Rented Radio is listed at 81 London Road (“Executive Office” and “South London Sales & Service”) and 5 Turnpike Parade N15 (“North London Sales & Service”) in the February 1952, February 1953, and February 1954 London phone books, and absent thereafter. There is an “R.A.P. Rentals (C.I.) Ltd” at 20 Grosvenor Place SW1 in the 1955 edition, but this is also absent from 1956 onwards. (According to Brian Lucas’s article on radio in Jersey, this was R A P’s venture into Jersey — “C.I.” must thus stand for “Channel Islands”.) Regarding the various uses that R A P made of 81 London Road, see also the planning application cited above (ref 51/742).
A planning application (ref A1887) was granted on 20 April 1959 for a sign reading “Gina” above the frontage of number 81, along with a projecting sign reading “Gina / HAIR / STYLIST”. “Gina, Hairdrsrs” is listed in Croydon phone books from March 1960 to August 1970 inclusive, but absent thereafter.
Prices and quotations are taken from a series of (identical) adverts found as clippings in the firms files at Croydon Local Studies and Archives Service (2014 prices calculated from 1959 prices using the Bank of England inflation calculator). These adverts are annotated with dates of 11 October 1957, 10 July 1959, and 26 February 1960. I haven’t viewed them in their original contexts; I looked for the 1957 one in the microfilms of the Croydon Advertiser and Croydon Times at Croydon Local Studies, and couldn’t find it. So I can’t confirm the dates, and I’m also a little suspicious of the date given for the 1957 one as it pre-dates the planning application mentioned above by a year and a half; hence my perhaps overly-cautious claim that Gina was there by mid-1959 rather than late 1957.
Regarding the use of ground and first floor, a planning application submitted in September or October 1970 for number 79 next door (ref 70-20-1734) includes a report of a site visit by a council planning officer, stating that “No. 81 comprises a hairdressers on ground and 1st floors”. This was a resubmission of another application refused on 10 September 1970, and was granted on 2 November 1970, so it must have been submitted in September or October, and hence the officer’s visit must have been around the same time.
- Eva is listed in Croydon phone books from February 1972 to July 1977 inclusive. Its phone book entries describe it as “Sauna Club Licensed, Massage, Slimming”. A planning application granted in September 1971 (ref 71/20/1662) states that the ground floor and basement will be used, and includes drawings of a large frontage sign reading “eva” (all lower-case) and a projecting sign reading “SAUNA / SOLARIUM”. Candy’s appears in the November 1978 Bromley/Orpington, January 1979 Croydon, and October 1980 Bromley/Orpington phone books. I don’t know whether the change of name from Eva to Candy’s was accompanied by a change of ownership or management.
- A planning application submitted around May 1979 (ref A79/111) includes a drawing (dated 4 May 1979) of a sign reading “MARKSMAN / INDUSTRIAL / 1ST FLOOR” and an arrow pointing diagonally upwards. Brian Gittings’ 1980 survey of central Croydon retail lists “closed down” (this likely refers to Candy’s on the ground floor), plus “Alfred Marks (industrial jobs part)”. The October 1980 Bromley/Orpington phone book lists Marksman Industrial Employment Bureau. For more information on the Alfred Marks Bureau, see the Telegraph obituary of Bernard Marks (son of Alfred).
- Gill Auto Parts is listed in Croydon phone books from 1982 to 1993 inclusive, with the exception of the 1988 and 1990 editions for some reason (also, it’s written as “Gill Autos [sic] Parts” in 1992 and 1993). It also appears on Goad plans from March 1983 to June 1991 inclusive, though again with an exception; the March 1990 edition shows “VAC [vacant] (F.B.I.)”. A planning application granted in May 1982 (ref A81/50) includes a drawing of the proposed fascia sign, reading “GILL AUTO PARTS / MERCEDES & PEUGOT SPECIALISTS / & ALL THE CONTINENTAL RANGE”. A photo included in a later planning application regarding a sign for S R G Skytravel (ref 85/448/A) includes a photo confirming that the Gill Auto Parts sign was above the ground-level frontage.
- S R G Skytravel appears (as “S & G Sky Travel”) in Croydon phone books from April 1984 to July 1993 inclusive, and on Goad plans from June 1992 to May 2000 inclusive. A planning application submitted in February 1985 (ref 85/448/A) includes a letter from the council planning department to “S & G Sky Travel” at “81A London Road”, referencing a sign “at high level” with no planning permission; this suggests that S R G Skytravel was on the first floor at this point. The replacement of Gill Auto Parts with S R G Skytravel on Goad plans around 1992 suggests a move to the ground floor, as does a planning application for change of use to class A3 (cafe/restaurant) granted in August 2001 (ref 00/1890/P), which states that the present use of the premises is as a travel agency. In addition, Ejder Mazi of Mazi restaurant told me that he bought the lease of the premises from the travel agency that was there before (in-person conversation, 11 November 2015). Information on S R G Skytravel’s specialisation (and confirmation that this is the correct spelling of the name) is taken from a flyer found in the firms files at Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service. This flyer also states that the company was “established since 1981”, though it’s not clear whether it began at 81 London Road or elsewhere; I haven’t been able to find it in phone books pre-1984.
- All information in this paragraph (aside from the opening dates of Migros and TFC) provided by Ejder Mazi (in-person conversation, 11 November 2015). In addition, Mazi is shown on Goad plans from June 2001 onwards, and appears in Croydon phone books from 2005–2006 onwards.
- Meat items as listed on a takeaway menu collected in March 2014; stew examples from personal experience.