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Butchers from Bernard’s Outings in the 1930s

Published on: 20 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 24 Dec, 2021

By David Rose

Here are three superb photos from the 1930s of people on staff outings from Bernard’s, a once well known butchers in Guildford.

Reader Malcolm Wenn has kindly emailed them to The Guildford Dragon NEWS having previously commented with his brother Tony on our story Bob The Butcher At Bernard’s in the 1970s , written by Bob Hind, who worked for Bernard’s in Guildford.

Malcolm and Tony’s comment in that story, published in 2014, was: “We were intrigued to come across this reference to Bernard’s in Guildford. We believe that our dad, John Wenn, worked for Bernard Mitchell before and after the Second World War.

“We are not exactly sure of all dates but know he worked in Kingston in the 1940s and in Guildford in the 1960s. We lived in flat 76a North Street in Guildford above the Bernard’s shop next to the garden area. We think that he worked in cold meats and provisions.

“Dad also worked on the company farm at Rowhook Manor in Broadbridge Heath in Sussex. We were youngsters at this time and our memories are very vague.

“Sadly, our eldest brother Derek passed away earlier this year [2014] and he would have had much better recollection of these times than us. We remember the names of two lorry drivers – Les and Sam.

“We have found some photos of the firm’s outings in 1935, 1936 and 1937 which are excellent memory jogs. We would love to hear from anyone who remembers our dad or any other facts from around these times. Send an email to malcolmwenn@manx.net .”

Malcolm and Tony now adds: “We remember that either Les or Sam or perhaps both supported Chelsea [football team]. I still have some programmes that they gave us. Our eldest brother would have remembered much more about them and that time.

“I am sure Jackie Povey [who commented on the original story] would be very interested in seeing Bernard Mitchell as he was in the mid to late 1930s.”

Bernard’s 1935 works outing. But this can’t be its Guildford store. Click on the three images to enlarge in a new window.

Here are the three photos, the first (shown above) being the 1935 outing. However, it does not look like Bernard’s Guildford store, which at the time was in the High Street. It was on the north side just down from today’s Guildford House Gallery, past the Nat West bank and was where the store Anthropology currently is. Perhaps it’s Kingston upon Thames pictured and the main branch of the business?

Look, the building to the right appears to have some timber framing, while the give away is that the men are standing on some relatively smooth and flat ground – not a granite sett (as in Guildford High Street) to be seen!

Bernard’s 1936 outing. The pavement and granite setts suggests this may be its store in Guildford High Street.

This picture of the 1936 outing may have been taken in Guildford High Street as the characteristic granite setts and pavement are both in view.

Readers who remember Bernard’s as butchers will recall its two shops in North Street, both on the south side, the first being just above Swan Lane and the second further up and next to the Quakers’ Acre garden.

These had both been opened between 1936-38, the ‘higher up’ of the two listed in the 1939 Kelly’s Directory of Guildford and Godalming actually as a greengrocers. Presumably it would have backed on to Bernard’s High Street store that was still listed in the Kelly’s directories until the 1965-66 edition, but by then as a greengrocer’s store.

Bernard’s outing in 1937 during a stop-off at the Half Way House Cafe.

This is the 1937 outing and here are the men – not a female among them! It looks to have been taken at a stop-off en route to the day’s destination, probably Southend.

Thanks to some online research by Frank Phillipson, its looks like the Half Way House Cafe, on A127 Southend Arterial Road, West Hordon, Brentwood, Essex.

Glimpsed on the left what looks like a fairly new highway. There are cars travelling along it and beside it what appears to be a cycle lane with a group of cyclists coming along!

On the right, projecting from the building, is a hanging sign which is a flag, the back of which can be seen and the writing reads: “Half Way House Cafe”.

The men look to be having fun and they are all wearing a flower in their buttonholes.

And note all the litter on the left-hand side by the grass. Roadside verges being littered by passing motorists may not be a more recent thing then!

Firms and social club’s outings, either by bus, coach or train, were once very common, especially in the days before car ownership became widespread.

From the Guildford area, popular destinations were seaside resorts along the south coast.

In a similar story recently written for my weekly Peeps into the Past column in the Woking News & Mail, with a photo of staff from Rose Cottage Laundry on Horsell Moor, Woking, on an outing at Southend in 1947, I wrote….

If the outings were heading for Bognor Regis or Littlehampton, a stop was made at the top of Bury Hill at an open spot called Whiteways. (It’s still a popular place, filled with motor-cyclists most Sundays now!).

It was a convenient stop for everyone to get out and stretch their legs and in earlier days for the drivers to let the engines of their coaches cool down after ascending the steep West Sussex hill.

As many will recall, out would come squashed tomato sandwiches, bottles of Tizer, and elderly thermos flask with a cork stoppers. Children would play a few games together and for those on men only outings from a working men’s club, for example, out would come the beer crates and the first drink of the day!

It was then on to their destination with the seafront beckoning. All the usual fun would be enjoyed unless the heavens opened and rain spoiled play.

Weary but happy, the day-trippers would board their coach to go back home, but with a likely stop at a country pub somewhere near the West Sussex / Surrey border.

On summer weekends the roads would be filled with coaches taking people on day trips. And those who weren’t on an outing themselves would often gather to watch the coaches returning, particularly ones passing along the A322 Bagshot Road heading for destinations further on.

And it’s worth recalling that it was not only outings to the seaside by bus or coach, but trips during the winter months to London theatres to see pantomimes and other top shows.

I know coach outings of a similar vein continue today, but not the sheer volume enjoyed in times gone by.

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test 2 Responses to Butchers from Bernard’s Outings in the 1930s

  1. Sheila Podmore (nee Childs) Reply

    December 22, 2021 at 8:48 am

    I worked for Bernard’s in the mid-1950s, starting at the shop next to Quakers Acre, then transferring to the “top shop” in High Street where the manager was Mr Waugh. I remember Mr Wenn very well. Another resident in the flats was Mr Simpson, butcher manager.

    Mr Bernard Mitchell is far left in the top two pictures, very distinctive in his light suit and waistcoat.

    Les and Sam were great characters and delivered daily to Guildford. I think the top photo was taken outside their Kingston shop in Market Place. And I am still friends with Mr Waugh’s daughter Christine, who came to work in the shop after leaving school.

  2. Malcolm Wenn Reply

    December 30, 2021 at 10:28 pm

    Hello Sheila, thank you for your very interesting comments.

    My brother Tony believes that Mr Waugh set up his own business in Ewell and our dad worked for him. Mr Waugh’s daughter – your friend Christine – will know if Tony’s memory is still working well.

    We were living in Wilmer Close in Kingston at that time, going to schools in Latchmere Road and Richmond Road before Tony then went to Surbiton Grammar.

    Tony vaguely remembers that Mr Mitchell then persuaded our dad to take the job on the company farm at Rowhook Manor in Broadbridge Heath, Sussex.

    When we lived in Flat 1, 76A North Street in Guildford we do remember that at least one of the flats above us was occupied but we can’t remember any names.

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