73–77 London Road is home to a branch of the Turkish Food Centre, a small London-wide chain of supermarkets.
1840s–1890s: Construction of the original building, and use as a private residence
The current building is a modern construction which replaced older premises on the same site.
The first building on this piece of land was a semi-detached house, constructed between 1844 and 1851 on building ground owned by Samuel Bendry Brooks. As of 1851 it was occupied by Thomas and Henrietta Cunningham and their two daughters. According to the 1851 census, Thomas was a gardener; he must have been quite a successful one to afford a house of this size.
By 1852, the Cunninghams had been replaced by George Penfold, a solicitor in his 40s. George was not to remain here long, however, as he died on 3 September of that year after a long and serious illness. George’s widow remained in the house for a while after his death, but by 1855 she in turn had been replaced by Thomas Cox, who remained until around 1859. Thomas was a civil engineer and surveyor who worked for the Croydon Local Board of Health until his resignation in November 1857.
Next to arrive was Matthew Pratt, in place by 1861 but replaced around 1866 by Frederick Richard Frinneby, a bristle merchant who traded at 143 Cannon Street in the City of London. Frederick died in December 1870, at the age of 67, though his wife Abigail and daughter Alice continued to live at the premises until at least April 1871.
By late 1873, Abigail and Alice had given way to a tobacco dealer named John Marston Allsop and his wife Mary Ann. Said tobacco dealer generally went by his middle name of Marston, possibly to distinguish him from his father, John Allsop, who was “Well known as a public man in Croydon, having served on the Local Board and Board of Guardians”. Like his predecessor Frederick, Marston died at home on London Road — though at the early age of only 34, on 13 June 1877.
Thomas Young, solicitor, was in residence by 1880. He was already widowed or soon to be widowed by this point; the 1881 census lists him as a widower with seven children aged between 2 and 14. He appears to have practiced from his home; however, he was gone again by 1884. George Reynolds moved in by 1885, and out again by 1886. A couple of years of vacancy followed, broken by the arrival of another solicitor, David Gunnell, who was in place by 1889 and gone again by 1895.
1890s: Extension and subdivision; Ebenezer Courtenay Wells, accountant, and Henry Tobutt, stationer
Until this point, the original building had remained basically unchanged since its construction; a semi-detached house set 8 metres back from the road. However, along with its neighbour (the other half of the semi-detached pair), it was extended forward to the pavement line in the mid-1890s, and the extension was split into two shop premises, then numbered as 53 and 53a.
The original residential part of the building was occupied by Ebenezer Courtenay Wells, who also conducted his accountancy and auctioneering business in number 53. Ebenezer’s wife Mary and son Ernest were also involved in the auctioneering side of this business, which went under the name of Courtenay Wells & Co. Despite declaring bankruptcy in 1902, Ebenezer was to remain on London Road trading as an accountant until the mid-to-late 1910s. Meanwhile, number 53a became Henry Tobutt’s stationery shop, which was to last until around 1899. 
1900s: Further subdivision; confectionery, books, and trading stamps
Henry Tobutt’s successor was a confectioner named T W Eames, in place by 1900. The shops were further subdivided a couple of years later, and by 1904 there were a total of four businesses in the two original shop units: Ebenezer Courtenay Wells, accountant; T W Eames, confectioner; E Hutt’s Book and Music Depot, and the Premium Trading Stamp Co.
1900s–1950s: Clothes, stationery, florists, hairdressers, and fancy goods
A multiplicity of businesses continued to occupy these shop units over the next few decades, many of them staying for only a year or two.
The shorter-term occupants included L & E Nichols, “Blouse Warehouse”; A Smith, confectioner; T C Goodman, stationer; Frederick White, confectioner and tobacconist; E Harley, stationer and fancy dealer; Mrs Swain, “Wardrobe Dealer” (probably referring to clothes rather than actual wardrobes); J J Stark, laundry; Lewis Mason, fancy goods and china stores; the Croydon Hosiery Co; M Albert, gent’s outfitter; F D Bailey, initially a gents’ outfitter but later switching track to a “registry office” (likely a type of job agency); G Grundy, estate agent; and The Gift Shop, fancy goods.
Little information survives about most of these, with the exception of The Gift Shop, which advertised itself as “the cheapest shop in Croydon” and advertised “Leather Handbags and all kinds of Fancy Goods”. Despite these enticing features, its tenure on London Road was very short; it was in place before the end of 1927, but gone again by the end of 1928.
Businesses which lasted at numbers 73–77 for more than a couple of years included Barnshaw & Son, florists; J S Fuller, cash registers, scales, and typewriters; Croydon Motor Tyres Ltd; Premier Service, dyers and cleaners; Harland, jeweller; John Wimbourne, hairdresser; Gaye, ladies’ hairdresser; Shorts Snack Bar & Restaurant; and Chase & Sons, gents’ outfitters.
Chase & Sons was probably the longest-standing of these, in place by 1928 and remaining until around 1961. By 1956 it was advertising “Eze-Ion” shirts, which needed “little or no ironing”, made from spun rayon at 21/- each or fine poplin at 32/6 each (corresponding to £23.41 and £36.34 respectively in 2014 prices).
Gaye ladies’ hairdresser was in place by August 1949, and lasted until around 1953 before moving up the road to number 1359, where it remained until the 1970s. Its proprietor was Maureen Sybil Short, who could well have been related to Kenneth Short, proprietor of Shorts Snack Bar & Restaurant. The latter was open by early 1956, and remained until around 1960.
Early 1960s: Demolition and rebuilding
As already noted, however, all traces of these businesses were to be wiped away, as both the original semi-detached house and the 1890s extensions were set for demolition. Planning permission was granted on 17 October 1960 to “Messrs. The Southern Shop Developments Ltd., 12, St. George Street, Hanover Square, London” for “demolition of the existing building and the erection of a supermarket with offices over, at Nos. 73, 75 and 77, London Road, Croydon”.
Construction of the new building was complete by the end of January 1963. However, the other half of the semi-detached pair remained in place, creating the rather incongruous sight of a c.1850 house seemingly growing out of the side of a 1960s office block.
1960s–1980s: The United Association for the Protection of Trade
Little evidence survives of the initial occupants of the new building. A planning application for signage for a discount superstore was granted in January 1963, but it’s not clear whether this ever opened — or, if it did, what it sold. Similarly, a planning application for a gym and sauna on the first and second floors was granted in February 1963, but it’s not clear whether this went ahead.
By 1965, however, the upper floors were occupied by the United Association for the Protection of Trade, a company which kept records on individuals’ credit histories and answered enquiries from businesses wishing to discover their customers’ creditworthiness. This remained here until at least the mid-1980s.
1960s–1990s: Williams Furniture, Wades Furniture, Robills Discount Warehouse, The Factory Shop, Eurostile, and The Furniture Showhouse
By 1969, the ground floor was occupied by a furniture showroom known as Williams Furniture. This remained until around 1981, when it was replaced by another furniture showroom, Wades.
Open by October 1981, Wades sold dining tables and chairs, sideboards, armchairs, and sofas. Examples of its products advertised in the Croydon Advertiser of that month included a “LARGE WALL UNIT featuring 5 deep base cupboards, cocktail cabinet, display shelves and illuminated glass display cupboard, attractively finished in mahogany veneer” for £280 (£958 in 2014 prices), and a “Traditional style Chesterfield settee upholstered in heavy Dralon velvet” with “intricately pleated” arm fronts, “quilted roll over back and arms”, and “sprung seats and separate cushions [to] offer an exceptionally high degree of comfort” for £200 (£684 in 2014 prices).
By March 1984, Wades had been replaced by Robills Discount Warehouse, selling household goods, and by March 1985 this in turn had been replaced by a business known as The Factory Shop. The Factory Shop was similarly short-lived; by April 1986, Eurostile Interiors was in place, advertising “high quality furnitures [sic] modern and reproduction”. However, Eurostile in turn closed down some time between March 1988 and March 1990.
c.2000–present: Turkish Food Centre
Two decades of instability and vacancy were brought to an end by May 2000, as the Turkish Food Centre (TFC) opened its Croydon branch. Originally established in Dalston in 1980, the company has grown to a total of 14 branches — primarily in North London, but also with one outpost in East London (Leytonstone) and a total of five south of the river.
The Croydon branch sells a wide selection of fruit and vegetables, including fresh herbs, oyster mushrooms, several types of peppers, and tomatoes on the vine. A bakery counter offers Turkish and Iranian breads as well as takeaway lahmacun (“Turkish pizza”), and a butcher’s counter gives the option of meat cut to order. Oils, vinegars, pickles, nuts, and dried fruits are available in abundance.
Thanks to: Brian Gittings; The British Newspaper Archive; Blom ASA; the Planning Technical Support Team at Croydon Council; all at the Croydon Local Studies Library; and my beta-reader Flash. Census data and London phone books consulted via Ancestry.co.uk.
Footnotes and references
- The 1844 Tithe Map shows the land on which the present numbers 67–77 were later built as “Building ground” belonging to Samuel Bendry Brooks. Gray’s 1851 directory lists a property “To Let” at 27 London Road, which was renumbered to 53 in 1890, and split into 53, 53a, and 53b a few years later; these latter were then renumbered to 73–77 in 1927.
- Information on occupancy as of 1851 taken from the census of that year.
- George Penfold’s death is reported in the Sussex Advertiser of 7 September 1852, page 7, column 6: “PENFOLD.—September 3, at his residence, London-road, Croydon, after many months’ severe suffering, George Penfold, Esq., solicitor, in the 45th year of his age.”
- Mrs George Penfold is listed in Grey’s 1853 directory. Thomas Cox is listed in Grey & Warren’s 1855 and 1859 directories; in the first of these, he is “Civil Engineer, and Surveyor to the Croydon Local Board of Health”, while in the second he is merely a “Civil Engineer”. His resignation is reported in the Croydon Chronicle of 28 November 1857 in a report which quotes his letter including his reasons for leaving: “Some of them are entirely of a personal nature, while others arise from the many cares and deep responsibilities connected with my position. [...] it is not from any momentary impulse that I am acting; my decision may have been hastened by recent events, but not wholly caused by them. [...] If I have, in the course of my occupation, given offence to any of you, or if any member should think that he may have given me cause of complaint, I request that these little frictions of life may be forgotten and forgiven.” Reading between the lines of this, one suspects there may have been some recent disagreements or arguments which prompted Thomas to give up his post. The report goes on to state that a Mr Bottomley “explained that Mr. Cox in resigning his office had taken a very wise step, as there was a great deal of work to do, and his health suffered extremely. He had consulted with his father, and had come to the resolution that he should resign.”
- Matthew Pratt is listed in the 1861 census (along with a wife, butler, and servant); Gray & Warren’s 1861–2 directory; Simpson’s 1864 directory; and Warren’s 1865–66 directory, as well as Poor Rate books from November 1862 (as “M Pratt”), June 1864 (as “M Pratt”), December 1864, July 1865, and November 1865. Frederick Finneby appears in Poor Rate books from June 1866 and October 1866 (as “F R [unreadable surname beginning with ‘F’]”) as well as Warren’s 1869 directory. His full name and his trading address are given in the report of his death on page 5 of the 24 December 1870 Croydon Chronicle (viewed on microfilm at Croydon Local Studies and Archives Service, reproduced here). His profession is taken from Proceedings of the Old Bailey, reference t18690816-702, listed in connection with evidence given by his clerk in a fraud case. The goods that he was defrauded out of were “brushes, brooms, and scrubbing-brushes”.
- Frederick’s death date and age are reported in a notice on page 5 of the 24 December 1870 Croydon Chronicle, reproduced here. The 1871 census lists 20-year-old Alice Frinneby as daughter of the head of the household, along with two servants. The head of the household is not listed, suggesting that Alice’s mother Abigail was staying elsewhere on the night of the census. Abigail’s name is given in the records of Alice’s birth and baptism in the England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 database, viewed online via Ancestry.co.uk.
- John Marston Allsop is listed on London Road in the December 1873 Poor Rate Book (as Marston Allsop), Ward’s 1874 and 1876 directories (as Marston Allsop), and Wilkins’ 1876–7 directory (as J Allsop). The 1851 census lists him as John Marston Allsop (at which point he was living in Camberwell with his father John and mother Kezia), the 1861 census lists him as Marston John Allsop [sic] (living on North End with his parents and younger sister Julia), and the 1871 census lists him as “Maston [sic] Allsop” (living on Warham Road in Waddon with Mary Ann and their 4-year-old daughter Kate). His profession, death date, and full name, as well as Mary Ann’s full name, are taken from the GOV.UK “Find a will” search. His age is taken from page 173 of Croydon in the Past, a book published in 1883 giving transcriptions of texts on tombs, tablets, and gravestones in Croydon’s churches, churchyards, and cemetery (viewed online at the Internet Archive). His inscription reads: “John Marston Allsop, d June 13, 1877, a 34.” The quotation about Marston’s father is a note added by the editor of Croydon in the Past to accompany his own inscription (“John Allsop, d Aug. 27, 1872, a 52.”), also on page 173.
- T Young, solicitor, is listed in Ward’s 1880 and 1882 directories and Purnell’s 1882 directory. The word “solicitor” is printed in italics, which in these directories generally means that the business was practiced from that address. His full first name and other information are taken from the 1851 census. Ward’s 1884 directory lists the property as unoccupied.
- Ward’s directories list George Reynolds in 1885 and 1886; “Unoccupied” in 1887 and 188; David Gunnell, solicitor, from 1889 to 1894 inclusive; and “Unoccupied” again in 1895. David is additionally denoted a Commissioner for Oaths in the 1892, 1893, and 1894 editions.
- Distance of house from road is as measured on the 1868 and 1895 Town Plans: 16mm at 1:500 scale is equal to 8 metres.
- In Ward’s directories up to and including 1895, the property is listed as number 53 (following its renumbering from 27 in 1890). It's also shown as a single, unsplit, unextended property on the 1894–5 Town Plans. From 1896 onwards, a new address of 53a appears between numbers 53 and 55. It’s clear that 53a was split off from 53 rather than from 55, as Henry Tobutt is listed at 53a up to 1899, and number 55 was demolished around 1897 (further information on this demolition will appear in my article on 79 London Road). Curiously, the 1901 census lists this shop as 55a rather than 53a, though this could be a transcription error.
- Ebenezer Courtenay Wells and his wife and five children are listed as residents at number 53 in the 1901 census, with Ebenezer as “Auctioneer + House Agent”, Mary as “House Agent”, and Ernest as “Auctioneers Clerk”. Ward’s directories list Courtenay Wells & Co at number 53 from 1896 to 1902 inclusive (misspelled as “Courtenay, Wells & Co” in 1896 but corrected in later editions), and E Courtenay Wells, accountant, from 1903 to 1917 inclusive. Ebenezer’s bankruptcy is noted on page 412 of the 18 April 1902 Edinburgh Gazette, and a second bankruptcy is noted on page 2166 of the 9 December 1921 Edinburgh Gazettte, at which point he is at 2 Sydenham Road.
- Ward’s directories list Henry Tobutt, stationer, at 53a from 1896 to 1899 inclusive.
- Ward’s directories list Courtenay Wells & Co, auctioneers “&c” at 53 and T W Eames, confectioner, at 53a in 1900, 1901, and 1902; E Courtenay Wells, accountant, at 53, Phillips & Co, Incandescent Light Stores, at 53a, and T W Eames, confectioner, at 53b in 1903; and E Courtenay Wells, accountant, and the Premium Trading Stamp Co both at 53, Book and Music Depot — E Hutt, manager at 53a, and T W Eames, confectioner, at 53b in 1904.
- Information on occupancy taken from Ward’s directories.
- The Gift Shop appears in only one edition of Ward’s directories: 1928, the information for which would have been gathered late the previous year. Other information taken from an advert in the Croydon Times of 7 January 1928, found in the firms files at Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service.
- Information on occupancy taken from Ward’s directories.
- Chase & Sons is listed in Ward’s directories from 1928 up to the final edition in 1939, and Croydon phone books up to and including 1961.
- Information on Eze-Ion shirts taken from an advert in the April 1956 Croydon Shopping Guide, found in the firms files at Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service. At the time of writing, there are some photos of an Eze-Ion shirt available online in an Etsy listing. According to the Bank of England inflation calculator, “goods and services” costing £1.05 (21 shillings) in 1956 would cost £23.41 in 2014, and those costing £1.63 (32.5 shillings) in 1956 would cost £36.34 in 2014.
- Gaye, ladies’ hairdresser, is listed at number 73 in Croydon phone books from April 1950 to October 1955 inclusive, and at number 1359 in phone books from the 1953 London edition to the 1977 Croydon edition, inclusive. “Maureen Sybil Short, ‘Gaye’” is listed at number 1359a in Croydon phone books from January 1956 to April 1962 inclusive. Kenneth Short’s name is taken from Kent’s 1955 and 1956 directories, which list Kenneth A Short at number 73 and “Shorts Cellar (prop K Short) — Snack Bar” at number 75.
- Shorts Snack Bar & Restaurant is listed in Croydon phone books from January 1956 to March 1960 inclusive, but is absent from the 1961 edition. It’s also the subject of a planning application (ref A1058) granted on 20 December 1955 to “Messrs. Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company (London)” for an illuminated sign reading “Shorts Snack Bar” with a “Pepsi-Cola” logo below. (Note that this doesn’t necessarily imply that Pepsi had anything to do with the ownership or running of the snack bar.)
- Planning application ref 60/1697, viewed on microfiche at Croydon Council Offices.
- The Croydon Council planning department index card for 73–77 London Road states that the changes requested in the planning application for the new supermarket were complete by 22 January 1963.
- Planning application ref A3062, viewed on microfiche at Croydon Council offices. A diagram submitted as part of this application shows the proposed sign, reading “Discount House / Walk Around / Superstores / Mail Order”.
- Planning application ref 63/219, granted to Universal Health Studios Inc, 16 North Court, Great Peter Street, London. Diagrams included in this application show spaces for a steam room, a sun lounge, a drying area, changing cubicles, a TV lounge, interview cubicles, a passive equipment area, and a workout area.
- The United Association for the Protection of Trade (UAPT) was formed in the mid-1960s as a merger between Kemp’s Mercantile Offices and the London Association for the Protection of Trade. It seems that UAPT retained the Kemp’s name in addition to its own, and registered a new sub-company for this purpose (see the Companies House record for Kemp’s Mercantile Offices Ltd, which gives an incorporation date of 8 September 1965. Kemps [sic] Mercantile Offices is listed at 73 London Road in Croydon phone books from June 1965 to August 1969 inclusive. It also appears in the 1971 Croydon Classified Directory, where for some reason it has the explanation “shippers”. UAPT is listed at 73 London Road in phone books from the September 1969 North East Surrey edition to the October 1984 Caterham/Reigate edition inclusive (with the exception of the February 1975 Croydon edition, possibly because the company was taking on new office space at Zodiac House and reshuffling its departments around that time). Brian Gittings’ 1980 survey of central Croydon retail lists “Kemps Merchantile [sic] + Protector of Trade”. I’ll discuss UAPT at greater length in a future article on 145–151 London Road, where it also had premises.
- Williams Furniture is listed in Croydon phone books from August 1969 to February 1981 inclusive. A planning application granted on 16 June 1981 (ref A81-88) describes the applicant, Wades Furniture, as “long lessee” of the property. This application includes a diagram showing a frontage sign reading “Wades” and a projecting sign also reading “ades”, in opal acrylic letters with dark green and light green fret-cut halos on an opal acrylic background.
- An advertisement in the Croydon Advertiser of 2 October 1981 (found in the firms files at Croydon Local Studies Library and Archives Service) describes the London Road shop as a “new store”. Examples of furniture are taken from this advert. According to the Bank of England inflation calculator, “goods and services” costing £280 and £200 in 1981 would cost £958.64 and £684.74 in 2014.
- Wades is shown in the March 1983 Goad plan; it also appears in the 1984–85 and 1986–87 London Shop Surveys (the data for which would have been gathered some time in advance). Robills Discount Warehouse — “ho/gds” appears on the March 1984 Goad plan. The Factory Shop appears on the March 1985 Goad plan with a notation “(closing down Stuart Edwards)” (Stuart Edwards is an estate agent).
- Eurostile appears on the April 1986 and April 1987 Goad plans (as “Eurostyle” on the former). The quotation about Eurostile “high quality furnitures” appears in the printed heading on a letter dated 30 March 1988 sent to Croydon Council in connection to a planning application for numbers 64–66 across the road (ref 87-3367-P); this letter also confirms the name of the company as “Eurostile Interiors” and the head office as 8–9 Salisbury Promenade, Green Lanes, Harringay. The letter is signed by C S Protopapas. The March 1990 Goad plan shows the property as vacant.
- Goad plans show the property as vacant in March 1990, June 1991, June 1992, April 1993, April 1994, and June 1995; planning applications during this time also describe it as a “disused building” (ref 90/2603/P, for a 100-seater restaurant, submitted in late 1990 and refused in January 1991) and a “vacant shop unit” (ref 93/1182/P, to extend the shopfront forward to match its neighbours, granted in July 1993).
- Goad plans list Furniture Showcase [sic] in May 1996, Furniture Showhouse in May 1997 and June 1998, and “vacant outlet” in September 1999. A planning application (ref 98/0848/P) for use of the ground floor as a restaurant, granted on 27 August 1998, states that the site is “CURRENTLY The Furniture Showcase [sic] in the Ground Floor only”, though a photo included in this record shows the sign on the shop actually reads “The Furniture Showhouse”.
- Background information on TFC taken from the TFC “About Us” page. As of June 2015, the list of TFC branches shows shops in Camberwell, Catford, Croydon, Dalston, Edmonton, Enfield, Highams Park, Leytonstone, Lewisham, Lordship Lane (Noel Park), Palmers Green, Tottenham, Waltham Cross, and Welling.