Web Page No 2134
21st February 2015
Hope to see some of you tomorrow at The George at noon.
Hope to see some of you tomorrow at The George at noon.
Top Picture: Typical David Greig Shop
Middle Picture: Macfisheries Logo
Lower Picture: Macfisheries Van
Bottom Picture: Lord Leverhulme
Seems Fishy to Me!
Over the years the High Street has lost a lot of big and small named retailers, especially in the food line. Here are a couple:
David Greig was the supermarket (initially grocery shop) chain founded by the Greig family of Hornsey, north London. With its headquarters at Atlantic Road, Brixton (and later at Waterloo Road, London) and grocery shops across southern England, it was a rival to the Sainsbury's chain, John and Mary Sainsbury having opened their first grocery shop in Holborn one year earlier. A deep personal rivalry developed between the two families, because of acrimonious feelings about the Greigs' alleged betrayal of a verbal agreement regarding the purchasing of sites for development.
The first David Greig shop was opened at 54-58 Atlantic Road, Brixton in 1870, initially Brixton Market also started in Atlantic Road in the 1870s and was so successful that it spread to Brixton Road before being relocated to Brixton Station Road plus several purpose built covered arcades and finally also Electric Avenue, to reduce congestion and allow further growth.
By the late 1960s, there were more than 220 Greig shops across the south of the country, all trading under the David Greig brand. However, the company was sold to Fitch Lovell (Key Markets) in 1972 after crippling death duties were incurred when several of the men in the family died in quick succession, with inheritance tax obligatory on their entirely private holdings. Key Markets
was later bought by Gateway, which was then rebranded as Somerfield and was in turn bought by the Co-operative Group.
David Greig himself was a notable philanthropist, leaving trusts for the benefit of Hornsey and the community. These have contributed to the Greig City Academy in Hornsey. The first David Greig shop, at 54-58 Atlantic Road, Brixton, is no longer a supermarket, but the frontage, containing a "DG" cypher, remains relatively original, and although the full name has been removed from the facade it is still visible in the mosaic floor outside the recessed shop entrance. The old David Greig building in Canterbury (now Superdrug) won an award for its post-war architecture. There is an inscription on the wall, in memory of DAVID GREIG, founder and DAVID ROSS GREIG. When Superdrug refurbished the store in the 1990s and the marble replaced, a stonemason was employed to re-create the inscription. It can still be seen today.
There is another facility in Alcester (Warwickshire) in memory of his wife Hannah Susan. The current sports, arts and community facilities are called The
Greig and are managed by the Hannah Susan Greig Memorial Company Limited. There is a family tableaux located in Magpie Hall Lane cemetery, Bromley, Kent where most of the Greig’s are buried.
I expect that many of you remember the David Greig shop at the top of Cosham High Street.
Another store in the same vein was Mac Fisheries which originally was a retail chain of fishmongers founded by William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme with his brother.
In his thirties, Lord Leverhulme had taken a boat trip and fallen in love with the Western Isles of Scotland. In May 1918 at the age of 66, he bought the Isle of Lewis for £167,000. Convinced that he could resurrect the fishing industry, he set about investing in all aspects of the supporting industries and supply/distribution chain. The plan was to build an ice-making plant in Stornoway, then refrigerated cargo ships to take fish to a depot at Fleetwood, where he would build herring-curing facilities, a canning factory and a plant installed to make fish cakes, fish paste, glue, animal feed and fertiliser. But first he had to create a market for the fish so he started buying up independent fishmongers throughout Britain, rebranding them Mac Fisheries.
But in 1919, servicemen demobilised from World War I who were promised land, started occupying plots on the Isle of Lewis. Lord Leverhulme protested and took legal action against the people he considered squatters, but the Scottish Office took the side of the ex-servicemen, leaving Leverhulme's plan in tatters. The Viscount announced that he would leave Lewis in 1923, offering to gift the Isle to the locals. But suspicion ran so high, that he was forced to sell again to long-term absentee landlords.
In late 1919, he had purchased the South Harris estate from the Earl of Dunmore for the sum of £36,000. Taking in the Western Isles fishing village of Obbe, he planned to turn it into a consolidated major fishing centre, with product distributed through the Mac Fisheries shops. In 1920, Obbe was rebranded Leverburgh, and 300 men started work on a new pier and seashore infrastructure for processing the product from 50 trawlers. An accommodation block, curing sheds, smoke houses, a refrigeration building, store sheds, houses for the managers and a twenty car garage were all built on the dockside.
With a second stage of development planned that would have seen the inner sea loch converted into a harbour to accommodate 200+ trawlers, fitted with a sea lock. After making his last visit to Leverburgh in September 1924, he took a trip to Africa, where he developed pneumonia. After his death in Hampstead, his executors and the Board of Lever Brothers had no interest in the Leverburgh project, and sold off the village and production facilities for and the estate.
The company did not expand much until the Second World War, when meat which had to be mainly imported was rationed, resulting in a boom of trade. To keep fishermen safe, the Government introduced a protected zoning scheme of trawlers, resulting in their landing fish in different ports each week. Mac Fisheries became adept at communicating to their stores when fresh fish would reach them, resulting in signs in shop windows stating when the next fresh fish delivery was due.
The dual consequences of the end of food rationing in 1954 and the introduction of American-developed frozen products such as Unilever's own Birds Eye fish fingers, meant a decline in wet-fish sales, and a decline for Mac Fisheries. The management turned the chain towards multi-line retailing, introducing fresh vegetables, dairy products and some canned produce.
The chain had to move to larger scale shops in the late 1950s to accommodate these new products, the new multi-line stores proved successful in reviving the chain′s fortune It was now that Mac Fisheries sought a merged with Express Dairies, who wished to dispose of their chain Premier Supermarkets. Express needed the cash to develop long-life milk, for which the funds from the sale of Premier would allow them to launch.
However, again estate problems brought issues for Mac Fisheries but financial issues slowed down the roll out of new stores, resulting in only 80 Food Centres opened by the end of 1964. Secondly, customers had to get used to a new colour scheme, based on orange over the traditional blue and white. Thirdly the decision was made to keep some of the smaller fish-only stores open as Mac Fisheries, at a time when consumers were wanting supermarkets.
By 1973, Mac Fisheries Group was turning over £50million, but making very little money. Secondly, the development of out of town retail parks required new investment something which Unilever was by now reluctant to do.
The result was a cost-cutting period in 1975, resulting in loss-making store closures and staff reductions. In April 1979, the Food Centres were sold to International Stores, while the residual wet fish shops were simply closed down within the following three months.
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News and Views:
On this day 21st February 1960-1965
On 21/02/1960 the number one single was Why - Anthony Newley and the number one album was South Pacific Soundtrack. The top rated TV show was not listed and the box office smash was Some Like It Hot. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68 and Burnley were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was BBC asks for second TV channel.
On 21/02/1961 the number one single was Sailor - Petula Clark. The top rated TV show was The Army Game (Granada) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25. The big news story of the day was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada).
On 21/02/1962 the number one single was Rock-a-Hula Baby/Can't Help Falling In Love - Elvis Presley and the number one album was Blue Hawaii - Elvis Presley. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 21/02/1963 the number one single was The Wayward Wind - Frank Ifield and the number one album was Summer Holiday - Cliff Richard & the Shadows. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 21/02/1964 the number one single was Anyone Who Had a Heart -Cilla Black and the number one album was With the Beatles - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Labour Party Political Broadcast (all channels) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 21/02/1965 the number one single was I'll Never Find Another You - Seekers and the number one album was Beatles For Sale - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.