Thursday, 6 October 2011

Taste of Times Gone By

Little Nellies Sweet Shop
It was in 1953 on the 5th February that the sweet rationing came to an end. It was with this in mind that Down Memory Lane turned to the Little Nellies Sweet Shop, 4 Friday Street, Henley of Thames for it’s next fill of nostalgia.
‘Down Memory Lane’ is a reminiscence project, currently in development with the Arts Development Officer from Vale of the White Horse District Council, myself a local Oxfordshire filmmaker and the members of the Abingdon Resource and Wellbeing Centre on Audlett Drive.
I was suddenly seven years old, asking for a 5p mix up - an assortment of chews, Blackjacks, Fruit salads and the Parma Violet sweets. Parma Violets tasted like perfume but I couldn’t resist them anyway.
All this ran through my mind as I walked into ‘Little Nellies Sweet Shop’ on Wednesday the 28th September. Where I met Kay Harman owner and manager of the shop.
I know it’s tough investigating sweets but somebody has to do it!
If the sight of sweets in jars piled high on shelves, filled my thoughts with sweet eating memories. I wondered what they would evoke in the wonderful ladies and gentlemen of the Centre.
Kay was marvellous and very supportive of the project. She informed me that her own mother had cycled miles in 1949 to get a packet of Fizzy’s the only sweets available at the time .
According to the BBC website in 1953 ‘The government and manufacturers had been quick to reassure the public that there would be no repeat of the first attempt to de-ration sweets, in April 1949, when demand far outstripped supply and they were put back on ration after just four months.
Kay Harman weighed out the Barley Sugars, Liquorice and Aniseed Balls. Then packed them away in little brown bags. Finally she placed them in a beautiful, flower patterned sweet box, which I would take to the Abingdon Resource and Wellbeing Centre.
I was very restrained and kept the lid on (well almost) until Monday the 3rd of October. It was then time for me to see what Barbara, Beryl , Gerald (Jan) , Mary, Reg and Betty remembered.
Mary would be the groups box opener and as each packet came out people remembered something different.
Beryl shared with the group her memories of the day the sweet rationing ended. She stood in a very long queue on Broadway in Didcot waiting for the sweets that would no longer be restricted.
Mary passed the Aniseed Balls around and I filmed as the group recalled experiences and exchanged stories. I did sample a couple of sweets myself it would have been impolite not to join in!
‘Down Memory Lane’ is seeking further funding for this oral history project.
With thanks to:
Kay Harman – Little Nellies Sweet Shop
Jackie Bowler - Resource and Wellbeing Centre
Abigail Brown - Arts Development Officer, Vale of White Horse District Council
Forum Chairs:
Renee Zarecky, Josie Kinduich, Doris Hurley, Janet Churlish and Sylvia Pead
Sweet Sampling Group:
Barbara Hodgkins, Beryl Cross, Gerald (Jan) Burnett, Mary Southey, Reg Macdonald and Betty Macdonald
Assistant Sweet Samplers: Sharon Woodward, Christine Sadler and Sarah Holloway

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