THIS week, we take another look at Woking’s shops in years gone by.

Pictured looking for the perfect wedding ring in January 1981 are a young engaged couple. They are assisted by Peter Prescott, who was the manager of Chertsey Road-based jewellers JE Russell.

Peter said: “As manager and working for director Michael Unwin, I had an absolutely wonderful time with a happy and helpful team. 

“It was a privilege to be able to serve the people of Woking and surrounding area at those special moments in their lives when choosing their engagement and wedding rings. 

“I was always mindful of how the couple would cherish that moment. It brought me enormous pleasure and satisfaction which I shall never forget.

“Now that I am retired, I can spend time with my grandchildren on Jersey, cycling in the countryside and protecting wildlife habitats.”

The JE Russell’s shop can be seen here in the mid-1960s view of Chertsey Road, sandwiched between the Home and Colonial store and boys’ outfitters Sydney Bailey.

Home and Colonial was one of the country’s largest chain stores. It was founded in 1883 and initially sold tea. Groceries were later added and by 1903 it had 500 stores. In 1931 it acquired grocers Liptons, having bought up the Maypole Dairy business two years previously.

By the 1960s, with the notion of the British Empire receding, the business changed its name to Allied Suppliers, but retained the Home and Colonial stores name for a time. It was bought out by Caversham Foods in 1972, and soon the Home and Colonial name disappeared from our high streets.

Another once familiar store, seen throughout the country, was Mac Fisheries. Its Woking branch was also in Chertsey Road. It can be seen here along with shoe shop John Farmer, corsetry specialist Contessa, opticians Batemans and the Central Stores.

Mac Fisheries was the brainchild of William Lever, 1st Viscount Leverhulme, co-founder of the firm Lever Brothers. During the First World War, he bought the Isle of Lewis in Scotland for £167,000, with the aim of resurrecting its fishing industry. In 1919 he bought the isles of North Harris and South Harris.

Buying up independent fishmongers’ shops throughout Britain, he rebranded them Mac Fisheries. After the Second World War, Mac Fisheries introduced vegetables, dairy products and canned food to its range. It then entered the world of the supermarket with larger shops.

Under the control of Unilever, and named Mac Markets, by the 1970s its days were numbered and in 1979 its shops were acquired by International Stores.

If you have some memories or old pictures relating to the Woking area, call me, David Rose, on 01483 838960, or drop a line to the News & Mail.

David Rose is a local historian and writer who specialises in what he calls “the history within living memory” of people, places and events in the west Surrey area covering towns such as Woking and Guildford. He collects old photos and memorabilia relating to the area and the subject, and regularly gives illustrated local history talks to groups and societies. For enquiries and bookings please phone or email him at: [email protected]