Christmas at the Shops

Isle of Wight Observer December 25 1886

Once more genial Christmas is upon us, and, as of yore, our tradesmen are well to the front in their efforts to do honour to the festive season. But the weather has been somewhat against them this year, a hard frost on Tuesday changing to a heavy fog in the evening, followed by a downpour which continued all day on Wednesday. The bad weather doubtless had a somewhat discouraging effect, and considerably checked people from going out on show night.

THE BUTCHERS – ‘Mr E Groves’ handsome premises never looked better than they did on Wednesday evening. His first shop was surrounded with the quarters of some splendid beasts, and carcasses of sheep. His pork butchering side showed a quantity of small pork of appetising appearance. All this, interspersed with evergreens, made a most attractive show, and kept up the reputation of this long established business. Messrs Minter have been rebuilding their premises, and the work has so far advanced that the appearance of the new building can now be judged, the scaffolding having been removed. The general verdict is that the premises are a credit to High-street. The shop is arranged much in the same style of the old one, but is larger and loftier, and as the carcasses hung round it – all prime meat – the handsome appearance of the new shop attracted crowds around it. (E K Minter’s shop is now Ryde Hospice Shop, next to the Crown Hotel. An illustrated receipt can be seen in the Miscellaneous Gallery page) Mr Stamp always arranges his show with good taste, and never more so than this Xmas. The whole front of his shop was completely hidden with splendid meat. In the centre was the head of an ox, from the nostrils of which two jets of gas projected. That old fashioned tradesman, Mr Locke, made great preparation for the festive season, the whole front of his premises being lined with pork of all sizes, festooned in artistic style with sausages and evergreens. It was an exceedingly pretty show. There was, however, none of the the large meat which Mr Locke has displayed on former occasions. Very enormous pigs are apt to be coarse, and although they excite wonder when hung up, they are not so satisfactory when eaten, so Mr Locke has mostly confined himself to small pork this year.

Detail of William Locke Pork Purveyors Bill
Detail of William Locke Pork Purveyors Bill

Mr Hellier had a nice show, some of it prize meat and Ajax and Co on the opposite side of the road, showed splendid beef, fatted (according to the label thereon) at General Boxer’s. Mr Morgan, who sells New Zealand mutton, was doing a good trade, and Mr Loader, at the top of the street, was also very busy. He was selling some very good looking meat at fabulously low prices. A dead ox with gilded horns, and a garland round its neck, reposed on the front of his shop, and attracted quite a crowd. Messrs Taylor and Love, pork butchers, also had excellent shows.

THE POULTERERS – Once more the handsome front of the establishment of Mr E Hooper was literally covered with splendid turkeys, geese, hares and game of all kinds, while the celerity with which they were disposed of, showed the reputation which Mr Hooper has for selling good things. Mr Joblin and Mrs Netten were more modest in their displays, but Mr John Cox, in High-street, had quite a fine show, which included a fawn in the centre of a group of game.

Edward Hooper Fishmonger & Poulterer Bill detail
Edward Hooper Fishmonger & Poulterer Bill detail

THE GROCERS – We must congratulate Mr Jacobs on the honour he has done Xmas. His establishment undoubtedly carried off the palm for elegance of window dressing. Next came Mr R Colenutt’s handsome shop, filled with specimens of the hams which have won such a wide reputation, and in the centre of which was a fine boar’s head. Messrs Norman and Son contented themselves with their usual sober, though good, arrangement. Mr Stroud, in Cross-street, decorated the front of his shop, but the fashion of doing anything very special at Xmas seems to be dying out amongst the grocers.

….to be continued……..here….

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