The busy and bustling shopping centre of Windsor Road, Penarth as it looked before the First World War – in a photograph probably taken around 1910 .
Most of the shops have their front awnings down – it’s probably summer. It takes a while to recognise the buildings – but fundamentally not much has changed. What is now the Nationwide Building Society was a hairdresser’s or barber’s shop called “Owen the Don” which advertises “hair-cutting and shampooing rooms”.
Aboard the horse and trap, two boys are carrying out what could be a twice-daily milk round. One of them supports himself on a crutch under his right armpit. Tuberculosis and rickets are common childhood ailments which – like Dickens’s ‘Tiny Tim’ can leave young child crippled for life.
There are no milk bottles to be seen. The boys would have ladled the fresh milk from a steel churn into customers’ own jugs. In warm-weather – with no refrigeration – unpasteurised milk tended to go sour very quickly unless kept cool by being kept under a damp muslin cloth.
As far as the delivery boys were concerned, there was no compulsory secondary schooling at that time. Elementary education ended at the age of 12 – or earlier. The horse – like all delivery horses – would have known its way around Penarth and known exactly where to stop without being prompted.
What is now the Ocho Coffee Lounge seems to have been a butcher’s or fishmonger’s – possibly W K Lewis’s – with an open-counter frontage. PDN reader John Adams says the butcher’s shop next to the St Fagans, was called “Tidballs”. At 15 Windsor Rd is the premises of the Penfound Brothers (outfitters) and beyond that, is the Bon Marche, David Evans the costumiers and – just out of shot – the Premier Restaurant .
The most striking figures in the photo are the two male figures in the foreground – the younger wearing a white starched collar and “knickerbockers” – probably made of corduroy . He has what looks like a watch-chain on his waistcoat. The First World War is still four years away – but he will be old enough to fight in it.