11, Haymarket, Norwich; this shop, whose Art Nouveau style shopfront was revealed by the closure of the International Stores in the early 1970s, was built at the end of the 19th century. As the poster tells you it was to become a branch of the women’s clothing store SNOB. There is still a SNOB UK store but it appears to trade only online; maybe it is the successor the same store.

THE INTERNATIONAL was a grocer’s shop, latterly becoming a supermarket. In the late 1960s it pioneered own-label tinned goods, like peas and baked beans. The tins had blue and white stripes on the labels.  I wonder if the COUNTY AND CITY SUPPLY STORES were taken over by the International? If so it was well before my time. There was also a chain of grocery stores called the MAYPOLE, but I understand  that was taken over by the Home and Colonial stores chain. The INTERNATIONAL was acquired by a succession of different supermarket chains, eventually becoming part of SOMERFIELD before that was sold to the CO-OP.

I have seen a press advert from 1899 for the  COUNTY & CITY SUPPLY STORES announcing the special offers for the approaching Christmas period. These consisted of dried fruits for the making of Christmas cakes and mince pies. Grocer’s shops were very different from supermarkets. You went to the counter and asked for what you wanted for a start; there was no self service. The stock was restricted too; there were some tinned goods and jars of jam and Marmite, but the main stock-in-trade consisted of loose goods like dates, sultanas and Brazil nuts. The other stock that nowadays you find in a supermarket, such as fish, meat, bread and fresh fruit all came from specialist shops; fishmongers, butchers, bakers and greengrocers. However those articles with a slightly longer shelf life such as bacon and cheese might also be found at the grocer’s shop. Perhaps the most important staple of the grocer was tea and coffee; leaf tea and coffee beans, not tea bags and instant coffee. If you wanted they ground your roasted coffee beans for you before you left the shop and packed them in a paper bag. The top was folded so the bag was fully secure, and there was no possibility of it spilling in your shopping bag. No sticky tape was used on these bags. If you had a coffee grinder you could take the beans home whole.

This shop that was the International is on the corner of the Haymarket and Brigg Street in Norwich. It is now a branch of PRET A MANGER. This is the last shop in the Haymarket, next door is Thornton’s chocolate shop whose address is 1, Orford Place.

You can just see the ‘- B INN’ of the LAMB INN on the extreme left of the picture. Apparently this part of Norwich had been the Jewish quarter of the city until the Jews were expelled from England by Edward I in 1290. The pub that was built here was called the Lamb of God to stress the newly Christian character of the area. For some reason the elegant green tiles with the Lamb Inn on them, which also appeared on the County and City Stores sign, had been covered up and replaced by a board painted in white on red. In 1996 the name of this venerable pub was changed too. It became the RAT AND PARROT, and in 2002 it changed again to HENRY’S. In 2011 it reverted to being the Lamb Inn and these green tiles with pub’s name on them have now been revealed once again. Thank goodness for both these changes to an older form.

Other nearby shops at the time when it was the International were PILCH, the sports shop (with a toy department in the basement), TIMPSON the shoe shop and CURLS the department store (now DEBENHAMS); these you could get to from Orford Place. Where PRIMARK is now in the Haymarket was LITTLEWOODS.

CLAUD BENTON and BOOTS were chemists facing each other across Brigg Street. CURRY’S, a name which still graces the nation’s list of shops  (though now out-of-town rather than on the High Street) was next to Boots on Brigg Street.  Back then it sold mainly bicycles. The newsagent John Menzies was next to Curry’s. Also on the corner of Brigg St opposite the International was a branch of LIPTONS. This venerable name in the grocery trade had already become a part of a supermarket chain but it appeared in the City as a small traditional grocer; by then supermarkets were spreading across the country and this little shop did not last long.




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