SILVESTER's shop in Bilston Street

by Peter Silvester (May 2003 & Dec 2004)

I was looking at the businesses in Sedgley and there is not listed (not in Kelly's?) My Grand mother's shop SILVESTER's in Bilston Street No.76 opposite Greenway.

They used to sell Groceries, Fags, Ice Cream, sweets etc. Grandad would open at 7am to catch the workers to sell them fags and at 7pm when they came back. Children going to school, mum's coming back and in the afternoon. Sundays to sell ice cream, at meal times. It was a treat then, ham from the bone, carved there for tea, and Chocs when the boozers came home from the pub - He wasn't daft!

Gran Wall (Leah May) Dad, (Alf Silvester) Mom, (Leah May (ii))
Edith Wall, Fred's wife (Sister in law to Mom) and little me in front.

I have also been contacted through the Sedgley Manor Site by Brian Wootton from The Walk we played together as kids. We have not met for about 55 years. He now lives in (near) Chippenham, Wiltshire and I am near to Weston Super Mare in Somerset. We intend to get together soon

I was born in Sedgley 21 December 1934 at 50 Greenway. My grandfather Silvester with his wife ran the grocers shop at 76 Bilston Street . It was an ‘Open all Hours' type, there to catch the workers as they went to catch the bus in the Bull Ring and sell their days supply of fags, and again in the evening when they came home, if he was in a good mood, possibly a little prezzie for ‘the wife'

The ‘kids going to school, Queen Victoria School, were relieved of their pennies for sweets. Gran was quite a tyrant behind the counter; I don't know why the kids kept coming back to her. She must have had just what they could afford, penny and ha'penny sweets. These are my next customers for food and fags. Then of course mothers had to call in for their groceries on the way back from school. My mother May (Wall) used to go to help a lot as Gran was not the most agile.

By law she had to close at least half a day a week. But the shop was not shut, Mom was always there. Gran took herself to Wolverhampton to do a bit of shopping, she usually went to the market to see Mary Bull and get some veg, then to the Gaumont where she would have a sleep for about half an hour, then catch the trolley bus back, it stopped outside the Gaumont, back to Sedgley.

Grandad used to smoke Woodbines, and for his birthday I bought him a treat, a packet of Players. He never knew that I saw him go into the shop, and change then for Woodbines, then take the change out of the draw and put it in his pocket.

While rationing was on, they would cut the coupons from the ration books and stuff them into a red square tin, Victory V Lozenges brown rectangular cough sweets, you could get black gums too, like Fisherman's Friend.

I had to the duty of delivering groceries to several houses, one was the Beacon Hotel, and another was to Mr Hyde the builder in Claremont Road , near to where my daughter now lives. I also went to the Working Men's Club to take her empty bottles back, and bring her refill. Seven pints of bitter, it was very heavy for a little boy, but not far-but not allowed as I was under age.

My father was an only child and his father Dicky (Richard) Silvester, I thought was one of two, his brother being Jim from Bilston, his wife I think was Beryl, and they had two children. Dad was born at 12 Gate Street on the 5th October 1903 . I have not worked that association out yet.

A long time ago, I found in Mom's sideboard a very tatty document, and thought that will be important, not knowing what I had, I have now realised that it is the marriage lines of Gran Silvester's mother and father, Benjamin Watton and Clara Marson, May 17th 1880.

At the same time there was an envelope with two bits of what looked like white silk bookmarks, with printing on them. These are memorials of Dicky's mother's funeral and one of his sisters, which I did not know about. They both said buried in Bilston Cemetery . This has since led me to the cemetery and found two graves for Silvester. One has five of the family, the other one. From this I have established there were ten children born to William Silvester and Sarah Jane Onions who they lived with at 45 Free Street Bilston. So far I have not traced Jim. I think he was about 1885-1895.

Peter Silvester

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