The wee shops

From Harry Foy's Book  'Growing up in Portadown in the Thirties and Forties'


When one thinks of yesteryear, one can always recall the wee shops. There was Mackle's at the top of the hill which sold small groceries, sweets and cigarettes. The big boys used to send us in for two Dart cigarettes and two matches - all for a penny.

There was Foy's wee shop with its home made nut toffee and toffee apples. There were Silver Mines, Highland Toffee and Khali Suckers. Lizzie Bloomfield in Edenderry sold orange drinks for a halfpenny and you could also swap your old comics for another halfpenny. Jack Neill in Francis Street sold hot peas in a dish with plenty of vinegar.

In Bridge Street, Sam Bacci, a man with an enormous corporation, ran a great fish and chip shop. On cold nights we could sit there in snugs drinking hot orange drinks. Fish, chips and peas cost nine pence while twenty cigarettes and a box of matches cost a shilling.

A great meeting place was Peter Lawless's Barber Shop in Francis Street. A shave was 3d and a haircut was sixpence. Stories were swapped and the craic was good. One character, Ben Hurst, if he got strangers in, would tell them that he was a drum major and that he led the band under the tunnel railway bridge. He claimed he was the only one could throw his stick up in the air, over the bridge and catch it on the other side. To add flavour to the story he said that he had to check the train timetables because if a train was due he had to throw the stick a little higher. Ben worked on the docks in Belfast so he caught the 6.00 a.m. goods train. As he passed through the street he acted as "knocker-up".

Milk in those days were collected in cans, so we often had to go to Bannon's back door for our milk. John Bannon kept his cows in the stores at the bottom of Francis Street. In those days you weren't likely to run out of something because the wee shops were open from before eight o'clock in the morning and closed late at night.

Market Day in Portadown.

Street gangs and fogging orchards.

Colourful vendors.

The Canon's trip.

The Butterfly.

Greenaway's ghost.

Summer on the Bann.

The Great Lemonade Robbery.

My first day at school.

The packman.

Even the dog understood the language.


Our House.

A long throw since skittles game was born.

The Gas Man Cometh.

In tune with the band.

Clubs and tickmen.

Donald Campbell Had nothing on us.

The Obinsville Cowboys.

Singing in the streets.

Such good sports.

The days of the sand quays.

The magic of Christmas.

Bombs - not sandwiches.

Skipping, football and cigarette cards.

Escape to the movies.

My first taste of plays.

Smuggling knew no borders.

The tale of the pigs.

Three brass balls.

Thanks for the memories.

First class show!.

Who could forget Mary Ann!.

Health remedies.

Fondly Remembered.

Going To The Dogs.


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