Ellesmeres ironmongers, Chapel Street

‘Hurry up Dad, it’s finishing soon!’

Why did the battery of our big red Roberts radio have to run out of juice – of all mornings – on a Saturday morning?

‘Don’t worry kids, I’ll go to Ellesmeres to buy a new one.’

My brother Gwynedd and I pulled on our coats and ran after him. We weren’t going to let him start talking with people. If he did that, we’d miss the end of Junior Choice and we always listened to Junior Choice on a Saturday morning.

The presenter, Ed Stewpot Stuart, played all our favourite tunes: ‘The Laughing Policeman’, ‘The Sun Has Got His Hat On’ and a brilliant Charlie Drake song whose title I can’t remember. He played a few we didn’t like – songs for the mums – like Roger Whittaker’s ‘I’ve Got to Leave Old Durham Town’. Gwynedd and I hated that one. Stewpot had a jingle with the voice of a young boy saying:

“Ello Darlin’!’

When we opened the door (ding!) of Ellesmeres ironmongery and hardware shop at the bottom of Chapel Street, we walked through a heady cocktail of smells : coal tar, creosote, turps and goose grease. Time was short that Saturday. Gwynedd and I were impatient:

‘Dad, hurry!’

But the owners were busy: Percy pouring paraffin into a Jerry can through a twmffat; Annie scooping nails onto the scales.

Eventually Dad got the battery. It was blue and as big as half a brick. As soon as he’d paid, he wrote the date on it:

‘So we know how long it lasts.’

Hurry home … fit the battery … turn the knob of the Roberts:

“Ello Darlin’!’

‘Great … it hasn’t finished. Thanks Dad.’

The site of Ellesmere's hardware store, this photo was taken in 2001

The site of Ellesmere's hardware store, this photo was taken in 2001

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