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Sainsbury’s in Stoughton High Street – Whatever Next?

Published on: 27 Mar, 2012
Updated on: 28 Mar, 2012

by David Rose

Alice Gowing, Frank Sparrow and Teddy Lyons would never have believed it – a Sainsbury’s opening in Stoughton High Street!

You may ask, who were they? Well, Alice, Frank and Teddy were just three local traders who had shops in what is now known as Worplesdon Road, that runs through Stoughton. They had a grocery shop, butcher’s shop and cycle shop-cum-motor-vehicle repair business, respectively.

The new Sainsbury's Local store on the corner of Worplesdon Road and New Cross Road, Stoughton.

The fact that a Sainsbury’s Local store opened on Friday, March 23, on the corner with New Cross Road, would amaze some of our forebears who lived and worked in Stoughton. They were used to a host of small shops selling practically everything they needed, with shopping trips to Guildford (usually on the bus) only to visit the big stores perhaps to buy clothes and larger household goods.

YBS Service Station on the corner of Worplesdon Road and New Cross Road, Stoughton, in the late 1950s or early 60s.

Things have certainly come full circle – as Stoughton’s new Sainsbury’s Local is somewhat similar to the corner and village shop of old. I bought some provisions there on Monday and I asked one of the staff on the till if they had been busy since the store opened. “It’s been manic,” he said.

However, it’s been a long time since this specific part of Stoughton has had a shop selling this range of food and provisions. Today, along Worplesdon Road from Woodbridge Hill to the shops beyond the Stoughton crossroads by Emmanuel Church there are hardly any other businesses selling everyday items such as food, drink and general provisions, compared to say 60 years ago.

Close-up of Alice Gowing's shop.

Okay, there is Co-op on Woodbridge Hill today, and a couple of other shops (one offering South Africa produce, for example), and then beyond the Emmanuel Church crossroads there is Lewis newsagents (on the corner of Sheepfold Road) and further on a baker’s shop and off-licence, with a fuel station on the opposite side selling food and drink.

Worplesdon Road in the 1920s. It was once known locally as Stoughton High Street.

Now take a walk up Worplesdon Road while looking at the shops listed in the 1955 edition of Kelly’s Directory of Guildford:

From Woodbridge Hill (east side): No: 4, H. S. Gabb, greengrocer; 4a, boot repairer Percy Welland; 12a, Ernest Nicholls, greengrocer; 12b, S. Kinder, draper; 12c, Ayres, bakers; 54 and 56 (next to Percy Road), Louis Pitt, off licence; 78, Alice Gowing, shopkeeper; 90, Mrs Lyons, Transport Maintenance (cycle depot); 122a (on corner with New Cross Road) William T. Connell, shopkeeper; 126, H. C. Lewin, draper and post office; 128, Leslie Frederick Renyolds, grocer; 134 (on corner with Barrack Road), R. Sparrow & Son, butcher.

From Woodbridge Hill (west side): 3, Pearks’ Dairies Ltd, 5, Mrs E. Elton, pet stores; 89 (nearly opposite New Cross Road, Fred George Jnr, shopkeeper; 91, E. C. & D. M. Burman, confectioners.

Sparrow the butcher on the corner of Worplesdon Road and Barrack Road.

There used to be a host of other shopkeepers further along Worplesdon Road, between the junctions of Sheepfold Road and Byrefield Road. They included ironmonger Thomas Edwards, fruiter Sidney Gittings, butchers Atcars and a another branch of Ayres bakers. There was also a Co-op there at one time. And in nearby Barrack Road and Stoughton Road there were more small shops.

The site of the new Sainsbury’s Local was, in more recent times, used by a business that hand-washed cars. Before that it was the YBS Service Station.

YBS stands for Yellow Bus Services, and it was this firm that occupied the site for many years – from the 1920s to 1958 – and which ran bus services over a number of local routes. It was nicknamed the ‘Happy Family’.

Postwar photo showing the staff of Yellow Bus Services and some of the firm's vehicles.


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Responses to Sainsbury’s in Stoughton High Street – Whatever Next?

  1. John Britton

    March 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    I doubt that the photo of Yellow Bus Services was postwar. The buses have wartime blackouts on their headlights.
    Three of the buses have the tall radiator typical of Dennis vehicles of that era.

  2. David Rose

    March 28, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    Thanks John for your eagle-eyed observation and reply. You are not the first person who has seen this photo to comment on the wartime blackout on the buses’ headlights suggesting it was taken during the Second World War.
    However, the photo come to me via the late Joe Dawson who worked for Yellow Bus Services at this time and is somewhere the photo. He once told me the photo dates to 1946 and that the wartime features (including the bumpers being painted white) had not been removed by that time.