If you have ever visited The Hive you'll probably be familiar with this view of 2 empty looking shops with the unwelcoming metal security shutters.
Having them situated next to our courtyard entrance means we regularly get asked if we are closed, and if you are not familiar with layout of The Hive and have just seen a view similar to this picture, you too may have even made the mistake of thinking these shuttered buildings are The Hive and that we are just closed whenever you pass!
So for the (nearly) 5 years we have been here, we've been imagining what they used to look like and what they could look like (in the right hands) on nearly a daily basis!
Whilst these premises look empty, they have been far from that as you will see in the video below, but things are set to change!
If you have watched the above video you will be familiar with the next two photos. But the best are yet to be revealed further down this blog! Whilst we're still trying to piece together the exact timeline of 31,32 & 32a Grosvenor Road in Altrincham. Here's what we believe we know so far...
2009 : Captured on Google street view in 2009 this was the first image we had seen showing the shop fronts in a decent condition! We believe a gentleman called Tony White was the owner of the 'Pine Shop" and gave this up in 2009/2010 before Lynn opened the "Zappy Pot" Shop in number 31.
The majority of the locals remember Tony and research suggests that Tony originally started out years earlier in number 32 whilst Mrs Crawford occupied number 31 as an antique / bookshop.
Late 1980's : Photographed from the flyover we believe this shows Mrs Dorothy Jackson's shop "Grosvenor DIY", it's not lost on us the fact that we too sell brooms, display products in churns and even have chimney pots as decorative features in The Hive some 30 years later!
Early 1980's : A customer told us a few months back that he used to work in number 32 back in the early 1980's when it was Altrincham Domestic Appliances owned by Mike College, but we've been unable to learn more about this!
1970's : There were a couple of planning requests during this decade...
In 1975 Kenneth Senior Price Esq made a request to change the use of number 32 from a second hand shop to a pet shop. In 1979 Mr G Adams made a request to change the use of number 31 from an antique shop to an office for a private hire taxi business. We've never heard anyone mention a pet shop or taxi office, so these may not have transpired.
Late 1960's : A local has mentioned that "Rhona & Benny" had a small antique shop in number 31 after it was a bookshop... but again we've been unable to learn more about this!
Early 1960's - Late 1940's: Now we're talking! This gorgeous colour photo shows number 32 home to L.G.Sparkes in the 1960's. Lesley Sparkes was the neighbourhood butcher and greengrocer, we hope to feature him in more detail in the future! But one of his teenage delivery boys is actually a customer of ours all these decades later.
** If you can fill in any blanks or provide any old photographs etc ... please do message us!!
In the 1950s home food storage solutions were limited and budgets were tight so this required frequent shopping.
Apparently only 15% of British homes had a fridge or freezer so food shopping was part of the housewife’s daily routine.
Most households were without a car too, so most shopping was done at local shops, and it was quite normal to visit separate shops for bread (bakers), meat (butchers), vegetables (greengrocers), fish (fishmongers) etc. But as you can see from this picture, 31 and 32 Grosvenor Road home to Butterworth Bakers and L.G.Sparkes provided the neighbourhood with the essential provisions the needed on a daily basis.
It was quite common too, for tradesmen to deliver their goods direct to the housewife. Groceries and greengroceries were often delivered each week in a motorised van, but as mentioned earlier, our regular Martin remembers completing the weekly round on his bicycle!
Most shops were family-owned businesses and traditional in character, so daily shopping trips to the local shops provided essential interactions which were valued by shoppers and shop keepers alike. Exchanging news with other customers may have reinforced shopping patterns and the shopkeepers, were also useful intermediaries for product and usage information.
Fresh fruit and vegetables were mainly grown in Britain (not imported), so strawberries would be in the shops for just a few weeks in the summer, and there were no fresh peas, beans or salad vegetables during the winter months. Locally grown, seasonal produce that we can sell and serve ourselves is something we hope to offer in the future.
So what does the future hold for 31 & 32 Grosvenor Road?
In all honesty we can't tell you with 100% certainty because we don't know ourselves how things will turn out.
All we can say is that being a part of the community really is what our business is about! In the (nearly) 5 years we have been at The Hive, we have made dozens of new friends; we have welcomed babies into families, grieved the passing of parents and pets, attended birthday celebrations, feasted at bbq's and attended breakfast invites.
We have felt loved and protected by our neighbours and we have genuinely felt like an essential addition to the neighbourhood!
So that is what we want to grow on... we want to continue being the type of shop keepers that Mr Lesley Sparkes from L.G.Sparkes and Arkwright from Open All Hours would have been!
But we also want to be a place to provide a warm drink, a freshly baked pastry and shelter on a cold and wet day. We also want to have a mix of provisions on the shelves for everyday occasions as well as some unique treats for the special occasions. We want to have a selection of seasonal and locally grown produce such as flowers from The Nectar Bar and some fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy options too!
So lets hope 2023 is the year we can reawaken 31 and 32 Grosvenor Road to make it an integral part of the community again!