2,900 copies published quarterly and delivered FREE to all households in Barrow upon Soar

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Winter 2010



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Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association. Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.

Barrow Community Association is a registered Charity No: 505692.

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Congratulations Marjorie - 100 years old!

Marjorie Kitchen celebrated her 100th birthday with a cake, important guests and a photographer from the Loughborough Echo. You may have seen her picture. It was by all accounts a happy time with Marjorie particularly enjoying the sudden influx of chocolates. Marjorie now lives at the Highland House Care Home in Sileby but for more than 80 years she lived and worked at 159 Sileby Road in Barrow where her family kept a shop. This shop was integral to the row of terraced houses built in 1898 and it's thought her parents were its first shop-keepers. Although 159 hasn't been a shop for many years you can still see its large shop window.

When you talk to Marjorie about her life in Barrow she is quick to smile and her memory recalls many things but then she seems to tire and quietly returns to her own thoughts. She was the youngest of five children: the eldest was Beatrice (Beat) followed by Gladys, Winifred and George. Marjorie never married. It's believed that she did have a serious boyfriend way back in the past but her parents disapproved of him and in those days you did what your parents told you. Marjorie's parents ran the shop and when they died she and her brother George took over the business. When her brother died Marjorie carried on and only stopped working there in her eighties.

Barrow people who can remember the shop say it was quite small inside, it felt full when three or four people were waiting to be served, but was always clean and well run with Marjorie the cheerful lady behind the long wooden counter. The shop opened on time in the mornings and closed about 9pm at night - long hours. Everyone worked hard but it was a busy shop and a good little business. It was the nearest shop for many families in the area as the village is quite a walk away and in the early days there were no cars.

All the grocery basics were stocked such as butter, sugar, cheese, eggs, cooked meats and bread. The cooked meats were sliced to a customer's needs and sold by the ounce as was the butter and cheese. It was the grocer's task to break down the larger quantities as little came pre-packed in those pre-war days. During the war coupons were counted out and rations passed over in exchange. And of course there were sweets. Sweets such as humbugs, treacle toffee and liquorice allsorts were tipped out of large glass jars and later there was a bubble-gum machine placed outside the shop. Sweets were often displayed in the window to tempt Barrow's children into spending their pocket money at Kitchen's!

The off-licence trade was important too. In the early days beer was sold not only in bottles but by the jug and even in the 70's you could save money by taking your own jug to the shop and having it filled up from the barrel. In the distant past Mr. Kitchen used to take beer in barrels round Barrow's streets on a cart selling directly to people's homes. From all accounts Johnny Kitchen, Marjorie's father, was strict and didn't tolerate much messing about. Young people always behaved themselves in his shop!

Even now when you talk to Marjorie about the shop her memories begin with the sound of the beer barrels being trundled down the long side passage. As a young girl she told me she would run home from school to help in the shop, serving behind the counter or doing jobs such as breaking down sacks of sugar into small quantities. She clearly remembers the piles of paper bags it was her job to fill with sugar and that as a child she was never trusted to draw the beer.

100 years on

If you see the shop front today it looks small, but there was quite a lot of space behind the house where Mr. Kitchen had an orchard and reared a few pigs and chickens.

Marjorie still remembers her father's love of chickens as well as feeding them herself and taking their eggs into the shop to be sold. She was a great animal lover all her life and loved her dogs. Some readers may remember her last two, Sandy and Nellie, but when they died she kept a cat and became an ardent cat lover.

Although Marjorie's life was centred on Sileby Road, she took holidays in Italy and her independent spirit made sure she did things for herself for as long as possible.

She used to take a weekly taxi into Sainsbury's well into her 90's. I wonder if she ever wandered between Sainsbury's crammed aisles, everything pre-packed and labelled, thinking of her youth and running back from school to put sugar into little paper bags.

We'd like to thank Elaine Birch, Sue Wilford, Alan Berton, Paul Colston and Jane Tindle for their help in writing this article.

Val Gillings and Gaynor Barton