The Wilson Family

Photo:Paddington Green with the Sarah Siddons statue in the early twentieth century

Paddington Green with the Sarah Siddons statue in the early twentieth century

City of Westminster Archives A11A5088

A long association with Jordan's

By Stephen Wilson

Richard Arthur Wilson was born in St. Pancras in 1899 and lived in Somers Town as a boy before entering the Army in 1917, where he served in France, Turkey and Ireland. He married Mabel Winifred Smith in 1919 and in 1924 he started work at Jordan’s and became manager of the shoe shop. By 1927 they moved to 10 Paddington Green with sons Dick and Jim and in 1929 they moved to 12 Church Street above the Jewellers owned by Jordan’s. In 1930 he took on the additional duties of caretaker and moved across the road to 15-25 Church Street where they, and third son Bill, occupied a succession of rooms and finally the rooftop flat which had the luxury of a bathroom and toilet!

During the Second World War its elevated position meant that the rooftop was used for firewatching. Despite the massive bombing of Marylebone Railway Goods Yard and the destruction of buildings throughout the area, Jordan ’s remained intact. From the 1920s to 1960s Jordan’s served not only as a place of work but had a thriving social life with the firm’s outing to the seaside being a popular event. Many of my aunts and uncles met at Jordan’s as did my mum, Eileen Claydon, who married Jim Wilson. They moved into 30 Church Street, above Jordan’s china shop in 1948.

I (Stephen Wilson) was born in 1951, in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, and lived at number 30 until 1954. I remember the outside toilet and having to fill up a tin bath in front of the fire, which all three of us used once a week. In my pram I could be left outside the shops in Church Street whilst my mum got the groceries.

In 1954 we moved to the new town of Hemel Hempstead but along with other members of the family made frequent visits to visit my grandparents in Jordan ’s. From the roof I could just about see the trains in the goods yards, now Lisson Green Estate. I found all the chimney pots fascinating (and they are still there) and I remember watching the Post Office Tower rising from the skyline.

I can remember being scared to death as I followed my grandfather around the various departments in the evening, switching off the lights and locking up. There was (and probably still is) an underground stream in the basement. Its level had to be checked and if too high a pump had to be turned on to stop flooding. Best of all were the Christmas celebrations in Jordan ’s when as many as twelve or so of the Wilson Family would sleep in the bedding department for two nights. I can remember the late night noise of the market in Church Street on Christmas Eve with the barrows being wheeled along the cobbles of Plymton Street into their lockups and thinking that only when it was quiet would Father Christmas come!!

My Grandfather would pick up cigarette ends from around Jordan’s and I remember helping to take them apart and using the unsmoked tobacco, reassemble them in to new cigarettes, which he would give to the poor out in Church Street. I still have sets of cigarette cards which he collected from the discarded cigarette packets.

My Grandmother cleaned and scrubbed the staircases, some of which can still be seen today, worn by the thousands of feet that have passed over them for thirty years. In the early 1960s she suffered a serious illness from which she never fully recovered and in 1965 my grandfather retired and moved across to 30 Church Street . He died in 1967 and with my Grandmother unable to care for herself she moved to stay with relatives, dying in 1971, so ending the Wilson connection with Jordan’s. Sitting now in the rooftop restaurant at Alfie’s it is interesting to think back at all that had gone before and the many other stories that people could tell about the place.

This page was added on 17/02/2012.
Comments about this page

My mother Dolly Smith, as she was then, started work in Jordan's in 1936, her very first job . She told us she had to sit and add and subtract in her head to prove she was fit to work there.

By Jean Powell
On 29/06/2012

My Nan and Grandad, Louise and James Baker lived in 24 Church Street, opposite Jordan's, from 1910 where they had four children Elsie (my mum) Lillian, Fred and a baby girl that sadly died at birth. My mum often used to talk about being on fire watch there during the war years with her friend Jessie Anderson who lived at No 29 . They must have met some of your family. The Andersons had a second-hand business and up to quite recently they had a haberdashery stall in Church Street. Next door to 24 used to be Maggie's which was a grocer's shop. I remember as a child looking out of the window of 24 at the market on Saturdays. We overlooked Chocolate Joe's stall.

By Valerie Jean Fletcher
On 09/10/2012

Yes I was born in Eastlake House and knew everyone. I went to Bellfield School and my grandfather worked for the LNER railway for years.

By Jean Powell
On 02/01/2013

Crickey Steven it's a small world... my granparents mr and mrs Waters lived above Jordans bed shop. .. we move to Bennetts End Hemel Hempstead in the 50's. I was born in London. We used to visit my grandparents of a saturday... we probably crossed paths.... and Jean my Grandad worked from the 1900's at Marylebone Station.

By Gillian Waters
On 17/01/2014

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