Gloucester Road Branch 53 (later changed to 123)
I left school in July 1965 having worked in Fine Fare as a Saturday boy for a couple of years and liked the work. When I decided to work in the food trade full time my parents were mortified hoping I’d join my Dad in his office in the City.
It was agreed that I would get proper training and only the Food Halls of the Lewis Group would do but my Youth Employment Officer understood that request to be the Waitrose Food Division of JLP not realising the difference between the Lewis’s.
So, on the 25th August 1965 I duly arrived on the doorstep of Waitrose Gloucester Road to be met by the Branch Manager, Mr (Fred) West. He would always be referred to as ‘Mr West’ and likewise on the shopfloor he would always address you as Mr, Mrs or Miss Whoever.
He wore the traditional pin-stripe trousers and black jacket, his Deputy Manager would also wear a full length white apron under his jacket. His name was Mr McGoldrick and was a larger than life character, more of which another time.
I was assigned to an adult sponsor, Miss Josie Neighbour, and confined to the basement warehouse for my first 2 weeks to learn the ropes the ‘Waitrose Way’, yes, there was a Waitrose Way back in 1965! The next 2 weeks got me onto the shop floor but could only speak to customers if Josie, sorry, Miss Neighbour, was there as well to make sure they were addressed properly. I was eventually let loose as my previous grounding at Fine Fare came through.
Later I joined other newcomers for a 3 day Partnership course at Odney to be fully immersed into the Partnership culture, the whole induction process then was in stark contrast to today.
As a trainee Mr West thought I needed some responsibility so I was given the job of replacing the window posters which had to be in a straight line by eye ! I didn’t tell Mr West I had an arrangement with the window cleaner to leave some marks from the posters which had been taken down so I could achieve a perfect line every time.
There are more Gloucester Road memories to come but that’s enough for now.