Memories from Connie Hubbert (nee Dawson) of her time at Varlows.
Connie was born in 1928 and lived with her family at Rothwell. She won a scholarship to Caistor Grammar School during the war years but unfortunately she was never happy there and left with few qualifications before finding a job at Varlows in 1946 as she details:
This was the happiest chapter of my life, I went to see Mrs Varlow to ask for a shop assistants job. She employed me because of the respect they had for my mum. They offered me 15 shillings a week but I said I wanted £1, this I got and after several weeks they gave me £1 10 shillings which was a lot in those days. Wednesday afternoon was half day so I would go on the bus to Grimsby shopping. I bought my first dress from Marks & Spencer for 15 shillings, it was red with white spots and a blue collar, I wore it until it nearly dropped to pieces.
Back to the shop, this was 1946 and things were very scarce and still on coupons. Varlows in those days had a grocery counter one side and facing that was the drapery counter. I was the drapery assistant and Mrs Needham, as she as then, managed the whole shop. Mrs Varlow was just the figurehead and her nephew Bertie Wardle was still in Africa not demobbed. There was Mr. Marrows who managed the grocery counter and Jean Knipe his assistant. Later Brenda, Jean’s sister came to assist me and she was still working there over 40 years later. The Knipes lived at Fonaby Lodge and were very kind to me in the 1947 winter when the roads were bad to Rothwell they took me home and made me very welcome. Miss Kirk was in the office sorting invoices and paying bills etc. She was a truly Christian lady and also took me in when the roads were blocked, she had a very kind heart. When the new TSB opened in Caistor she left Varlows and went to manage it. After that Mrs Pengelly came to our little band and work in the office.
Bertie Wardell came home from the war and inherited the shop. He married Mrs Needham the manageress and they had three daughters. Mrs Wardell had really bad pregnancies and I found myself alone on the drapery counter. She still did the buying from home, we sold underwear, dresses, coats, hats and shoes. We had a clothing club which was the bane of my life. On a Monday afternoon I set off and peddled around Caistor with my ‘club book’ collecting debts of 1 shilling a week or so. Some people were in credit and came into the shop to spend it. I made lots of friends that way but unfortunately a lot of them are now dead (this was written around 1990).
I was invited to a party by Jean Knipe at Fonaby Lodge where I met my future husband Ken Hubbert and I eventually left Varlows in 1955.
Grocers, Drapers, Milliners
Jessie Bryan – As long as I can remember Varlow’s shop has been there in South Street. I well remember taking eggs there, 24 for a shilling and butter 8d per pound, when we had the farm.
1925 Warehouse Clerks and Drapers’ School, T. J. Varlow
1997 Closure, Audrey J. Clark
Photo from the early fifties of staff from Varlows at that time grocers and haberdashery, my mother Connie Hubbert (nee Dawson) Mim Wills, Teddy Steele and Brenda Morris. Not sure where this was taken, some sort of staff outing I guess. Has anyone got any photos of Varlows shop from that time – for those who aren’t aware it was to the right of the White Hart.
Carol Barnes – Remember Ted Steel and his little van he went around the villages delivering I think Barbara Morris worked in Briggs
Brigg and Caistor Shop
Building Grocer side