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Radio actuality recordings

A unique collection of original BBC and other radio actuality recordings brings to life the London of the 1920s to the 1950s. These sounds were captured at street markets, fairgrounds, skittle alleys, auction houses, hopfields and elsewhere.

Greengrocers shop 1956

BUSINESS SOUNDS BRISK in this recording of a London greengrocers’ shop (BBC catalogue number 895975) from November 1956. The catalogue entry doesn’t give the exact location and, assuming the recording team didn’t want to travel any further than necessary, it’s likely the shop was in or near central London.

The entry describes the recording as:

Greengrocer: in shop and pavement stall. Actuality of sales patter, sound of till, customers’ voices and traffic background. A second, quieter voice is occasionally heard selling to a customer.

The greengrocers call out for bananas (a shilling a pound), pears (three pounds for half a crown) and Cox’s Orange Pippins, the best-selling British apple variety until overtaken a few years ago by the sweeter, blander Gala.

The habits of daily shopping at the greengrocer, butcher or fishmonger were still well entrenched in London into the 1970s, even though the first supermarket in the country had opened in Manor Park in 1948.

Many thanks to BBC Worldwide for granting the London Sound Survey permission to reproduce this recording. It is not covered by the site’s Creative Commons licence so please don’t try to download or redistribute it.

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