27. Items Purchased

This chapter briefly reviews things grandad reported buying, from when his diaries started until 1938, the year before the second world war started. Although I recorded these items since I started reviewing the diaries, I did not initially write separate chapters on these. However, I did this for the late sixties and found it quite interesting and wondered why I had not done so for earlier periods! An opportunity presented itself in this chapter which I had initially set aside for material on mining between the wars. But, I had very little material from the diaries on mining. Initially, I thought I had something about a mining accident involving John Smith but, it turns out, this was a road traffic accident (see Chapter 18). Faced with otherwise having to delete the chapter and renumber everything, I opted to create this chapter! I decided it made sense to include material from the years of the first world war here. For most of the other time periods, I have a chapter covering a mix of issues and I intend to add material on items purchased into those.


Quite a number of the entries during this period refer to buying books or other reading materials. During the first world war, grandad bought copies of “The Great War” (see box note 1) and had them bound. He also noted that Olive bought the same magazine and she also had her copies bound. In August 1914, grandad noted buying his first copy of the “War” for 2d (see box note 2).

[1] While I was initially unsure which publication grandad was referring to as “The Great War“, I think it was the one entitled “The Great War: The Standard History of the All-Europe Conflict” by Herbert Wrigley Wilson and John Alexander Hamerton. It came out in weekly editions which could be bound together.

[2] Again, it was a little challenging to identify the precise magazine grandad meant by the “War” but I think it may have been “The War Illustrated” by William Berry.
Selection of World War One magazines bound and unbound
Top left – bound volume of The War Illustrated
Top right – bound volume of The Great War
Above left – selection of unbound editions of The War Illustrated
Above right – single edition of The Great War

In April 1917, grandad bought the book “King Solomon’s Mines” for one shilling. In September 1917, three volumes of history books came and a further three came the next day. I am not sure entirely what these history books were and whether they were war history books. A few days later, grandad sent a cheque for £5 14 0 to London and I presume it was for these books. In May 1918, Cyril bought grandad four Collins classics from Boots. The total cost was six shillings, that is one and six each which grandad noted was the “war price“. While I have not found very clear references, I think price controls were in place during the first world war to ensure that prices were not inflated and profiteering was avoided. Presumably, these price controls applied to books.

In July 1918, grandad had 16 volumes of Everyman’s Library come at a cost of 2/3 each. In May 1919, grandad sent a cheque for £6 6 0 to Chambers for an encyclopaedia and, in June 1919, he sent to London for four books at two shillings each. In August 1919, he bought a volume of The Sketch for three and six. In September 1919, he bought the book Fortuna Chance (see box note 1) from Tryner’s (see box note 2) for five shillings and, that month, he bought another book for two shillings. In November of that year, he bought another six books from Tryner’s at two shillings each. In January 1920, Eva bought grandad a People’s Atlas for 9/10. This focused on describing the world as it was immediately after the first world war. In February 1920, grandad sent to Foyles in London for Webster’s New International Dictionary for £3. On 26 February 1921, he bought a pair of books for 26 shillings.

[1] Fortuna Chance is a book by James Prior. Apparently, it is set in Sherwood Forest.

[2] The 1928 and 1941 Kelly Directories have Edwin Tryner confectioner at 19 Kingsway. Based on discussion on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, his name was Edwin Abel Tryner. In the 1911 census, he was listed as a herbalist and, in the 1939 Register, as running a poultry farm and small holding. In the 1921 census, he was listed as a general shopkeeper with his son, Arthur, listed as a shop assistant (Toffee H and Herbalist). A possible explanation is that the shop started off as a herbalist and general store but, by 1928, had become a more-focused confectioner.
Copy of “The Sketch” from May 1913. Grandad noted buying this publication in August 1919
Front cover of “The People’s Atlas“. Eva bought this for grandad in January 1920.
Advert for Webster’s dictionary from 1915 © Bill Streeter and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Grandad ordered this dictionary from Foyles in February 1920.

In June 1917, grandad bought a bookcase from his brother Cyril’s for two shillings. In October 1918, grandad sent to The Furniture and Fine Art Depositories in London for bookcases for himself and Cyril. His cost £14 14 0 and Cyril’s £11 15 0. I am not sure why there was a difference in price. Perhaps, it related to size or type. It seems that at least grandad’s bookcase was damaged in transit as the railway company paid him £1 for a claim of damages relating to the bookcase.

This advert for the Furniture and Fine Art Depositories was in “The Sketch” in 1913. Grandad bought bookcases from them in 1917.

Musical Items

During this period, grandad bought, or had bought for him, a number of musical items. His experiences of buying and playing the concertina are summarised in Chapter 4 but more detail of purchases are given here. In October 1915, his mother bought him a concertina from Nottingham but, on the 30th, he himself bought an English concertina for two guineas. I don’t know if the one his mother bought him had been English but I presume this was not the case.

In January 1918, it appears he bought another concertina as he sent a cheque for a concertina to Vickers in London (see box). The new baritone concertina cost £7 8 6 and he was allowed 17/6 for his old one. He also bought a set of wrist straps for three shillings so the total cost was £6 14 0. Also that month, he sent for an Edeophone concertina (see Chapter 4) and enclosed a cheque for £6 3 6. The concertina should have been £17 but it was £12 10 plus 10% in the sale. On the 26th, he sent a further cheque for £1 11 3 for the Edeophone making a total cost of £15 8 9. He noted that the new cost was £17 plus 10%. I am not sure I can make sense of all these entries or get the numbers to add up. It seems he got one concertina from London only to decide he wanted to upgrade it to an Edeophone. So, he paid the difference. It may have been secondhand and he gave the cost of a new one for comparison.

I have not found details of Vickers. I did find details of a London music dealer called Horace Vickers Rees but I don’t know if he was connected.

In February 1918, he sent a postal order to Vickers for 7/6 to cover a tutor and some music. Also that month, he bought some music “Selections from William Tell” from Minnie and he bought a music stand from Kirk’s (see box) for 5/6. In September 1919, Olive bought him a book of sacred songs and solos from Nottingham for six shillings. In December 1919, he sent for a Chella-phone (see Chapter 20) for one and six. It came on the 20th but he lost it on the 29th and sent for a replacement on the 30th at a cost of three shillings. I don’t know why the price had doubled. Perhaps the first one was on offer?

The Kelly Directory for 1899 describes James Kirk as running a music warehouse. He is also listed in the 1911 census as a music dealer with a son, also called James, living in Low Moor Road. It seems that the senior James Kirk died in 1921 and the younger James did not take on the music business. In the 1921 census, he was listed as a coal miner.

In December 1920, he bought a clarinet for £6 10 and a case for 8/6. In October 1922, he bought what he described as a “jazz flagelette” for 13/6. I assume he is referring to a flageolet. In January 1923, he bought a violin for which the price was £5 15 6. He also got a bow priced at 17/6 and a case priced at £1 2 6. The total price should have been £7 15 6 but he paid £6 12 6. In February 1928, he bought a mandolin.

Bikes and Motorbikes

There were several purchases during this period related to bikes and motorbikes. For more details on motorbikes see Chapter 18. It was not always clear if grandad was referring to a motorbike or a bicycle. In October 1914, grandad noted getting his bike back from Williams (see box) for which he was charged one and six. In October 1919, grandad bought Eva’s bike for £2 and, the same month, he bought a cycle lamp for 3/6. In December 1922, he got his bike back from Raleigh. It cost him 37/6. This is an example of where he could be referring to his motorbike or his bicycle. On 27 January 1933, he bought a tyre from Halfords in Mansfield for 2/9.

I have not found details of Williams. In the 1928 Kelly Directory, there was a William Williams at 34 Byron Street but he was a boot repairer. Is it possible that he also repaired bikes?

Other people also bought bikes during this period. In March 1914, grandad noted that Leonard had a bike for one shilling. I am not entirely sure if the was grandad’s brother or nephew but probably the latter. Initially, I thought this might have said “kite” but, as he got a new seat for his bike in April, it probably says “bike” although the price, of one shilling, might be more in favour of a kite. In April 1914, as mentioned, Leonard got a new seat for his bike for one and six. I suspect the bike was secondhand and they were refurbishing it. In March 1915, Len bought a tandem for £5 15 0 and this probably is a reference to grandad’s brother. In May 1922, grandad went with Olive to Nottingham to buy Leonard a bike for £5.

In addition to the family buying various motorbikes (see Chapter 18), in April 1922, grandad bought a Raleigh 3HP combination speedometer. I don’t know exactly what that was. He also wrote “1,950” and I am not sure what that meant. Could it have been the mileage reading when he bought it? In September 1922, grandad went to Nottingham and had an Easting windscreen fitted at Raleighs for £3 5 0. In August 1927, he noted getting the motorbike back from Raleighs for which he paid £2. In March 1928, he went to Mansfield after tea and bought an electric lamp for the “motor”. In March 1929, he went to Nottingham and bought a new needle for the carburettor. In August 1929, he took the motorbike to Greensmiths to have the big end taken up and decoked. This cost 18/6. In June 1930, he went to Nottingham and bought an inlet bell for the motor carburettor and, that same month, he noted paying £18 for a “motor licence”. I don’t know for sure whether this was a driving licence or  a licence for the vehicle. I think the latter is more likely. In September 1931, he sold the motorbike and sidecar (see Chapter 18).

1923 cutting advertising Easting windscreens. Grandad had an Easting windscreen fitted the previous year


Grandad did not record all the clothes he bought but he did record some of the more significant purchases and also some items people bought for him. In particular, his sister Eva bought him various items including a new tie for a shilling in April 1914. He also noted buying himself a new tie for the same price in July of that year. Eva also bought him a pair of gloves for 10/6 in January 1919 and a rubber collar (see advert below) from Mansfield for a shilling in September 1919. Grandad sometimes bought Eva items. For example, he bought her a fur for £1 1 6 in November 1919. Eva’s husband, Arthur, bought grandad a felt hat for 21 shillings in February 1920. Grandad bought himself some items from Morley’s (see box) including a coat, in September 1917, for 27/6 and, in March 1918, two sets of overalls. One set of overalls cost 3/11 and the other 5/11. In April 1920, grandad bought a raincoat from his brother Jim for £4 5 0. In May 1922, he noted getting a suit and it looks like he got it from Crowe’s, although the entry is not completely clear and he bought another new suit in May 1927. He bought new coats or overcoats in November 1923 for 55 shillings, in January 1925 for £4 1 6, in June 1928 from Nottingham for 55 shillings and in October 1936 for 50 shillings.

According to the 1928 Kelly directory, Charles Morley was a clothier based at 24 Lowmoor Road.
This is a selection of the cotton and rubber shirt collars available in the Sears, Roebuck and Co catalogue of 1919. This article was provided by OldMagazineArticles.com

Grandad sometimes noted items of clothing that other people bought. In April 1914, he noted that Tom, who worked with him, had a new pair of boots for 12/6. In August 1915, he noted that his mother bought a topcoat in Mansfield for 25 shillings. In February 1928, grandma and grandad went into Nottingham and she bought a raincoat for 27/6.

Clocks and Watches

Grandad was interested in clocks and watches and noted a number of these, and items related to them, that he bought during this period. In June 1914, grandad had a walk to the market and bought a one shilling watch chain from Simmons (see box note 1). In June 1915, grandad had a glass put in his watch at Cupits (see box note 2). This cost ninepence. In December 1915, he bought an alarm clock from Wightmans (see box note 3) for 4/11. In May 1918, he started wearing Joe’s gold watch for which he had given Eva £3 (see Chapter 10). In September 1918, Eva collected his watch for him. It had been repaired at a cost of three and six. In November 1919, grandad got his alarm clock back from being cleaned. It had cost him two and six. In April 1920, he bought a gold Albert (£6 15 0) and locket (£1 8 0). I am not sure if this is the one I have or if that was with Joe’s watch when grandad got it from Eva. In June 1920, grandad bought a watch case for a shilling. I have this case with Joe’s/grandad’s watch in it. In December 1921, grandad bought an alarm clock from Gamages (see box note 4). In November 1926, he and grandma went to Nottingham to buy a clock for grandad’s birthday at a cost of £1. But, on the 20th, grandma took it back and exchanged it for another one for which she paid another 17 shillings. In December 1926, grandad bought a 400 day clock for 52 shillings. In July 1936, grandad bought an electric clock for 29/6 less 20%. In June 1938, he bought an electric clock for the kitchen for 12/11. In November 1938, grandad had an electric clock from Hobdays (see box note 5) for 16/8.

[1] I found details of a watchmaker called William Henry Simmons at 17 Station Street in the 1928 Kelly Directory. In the 1911 census, he was listed as a watchmaker and jeweller but at 19 Station Street. In the 1901 census, he was at 80 Station Street.  

[2] In 1899 Kelly’s Directory, Levi Cupit was listed as a china dealer. By 1928, the listing was for Ernest A Cupit at 57 Lowmoor Road. He was still a china dealer. There is a photo of the shop in the book “Kirkby & District: A Second Selection” by Frank Ashley, Sylvia Sinfield and Gerald Lee (p96).

[3] Wightmans had a shop on the corner of Station Street and Ellis. There are more details and a photo from a postcard in the piece I wrote describing a (virtual) walk up and down Station Street. There is a very similar postcard in David Ottewell’s book “Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Annesley on Old Picture Postcards” (#32). In 1899 Kelly’s Directory, William Wightman was listed as watchmaker and Post Office. By 1928, there was a listing for a jeweller and motor cycle agent at 41 Station Street.

[4] I assume the reference to Gamages was to the well-known London store. Apparently, they had a successful mail-order business.

[5] Initially, I thought this was Holdays and could find no details of them. However, based on comments on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, it appears that it was Hobdays, a wholesale supplier from Wolverhampton but also with bases in London and Manchester.
Hobdays receipt from 1925
Front cover of Hobdays catalogue 1933-4
Hobdays had bases in London, Manchester and Wolverhampton as illustrated on the front of the cycle section of the 1933/4 catalogue
The catalogue also had a “side line” section (see above) which included this page of clocks (see below) although I am not sure which, if any, of these grandad bought.


Grandad was also interested in cameras. In August 1924, he went to Sheffield and he bought a “reflex” for nine guineas. I assume he meant some kind of camera. Whatever it was, he sent it back in September. I think he must have got another one after that as, in May 1925, he and grandma went to Sheffield and they “exchanged camera”. While they were in Sheffield, they also bought a bag. In August 1927, grandma bought grandad a camera for £4 15 0. The next day, she “fetched” him a film tank and a case for the camera. In August 1929, grandad bought an autotimer for his camera for five and six. In March 1936, he had an Ensign Cupid camera come from Gamages. In July 1938, he had a direct viewfinder fitted to the camera at a cost of six and six. He also sometimes bought other people camera-related items. For example, in July 1922, grandad bought Leonard a camera for £2.

Above and below – example of Ensign Cupid camera with case


Grandad was also interested in radios and, at this time, he was involved in making home-made radios or wirelesses (see Chapter 19). In September 1930, he made a load speaker unit. He noted the cost as five shillings and one shilling  for a cone. In November 1932, he bought an eliminator for “Tommy’s” wireless. This possibly refers to Thomas Holmes (see Chapter 29). In December 1932, grandad bought Len’s wireless from him. This cost £5 plus £3 4 0 for the speaker. On the 14th, he had Len’s wireless cabinet for £3 5 0 and, in March, Len had a new cabinet for £5 15 0. In May 1933, grandad had a new resistance put in the wireless and, in October, he sold the wireless for £11. On the 20th, he had a new wireless but, on the 31st, Arthur took it back. In April 1934, grandad collected a wireless from Stanton Hill.

Items for Babies and Children

Grandad and others also bought items for babies and children during this period. In January 1918, Joe bought a baby carriage for £7 8 0. This would have been for their daughter, Olive, who is referred to in grandad’s diaries as “baby” and who was born at the end of December 1917. In February 1918, Joe and Eva bought the baby’s crib. In June 1918, grandad’s mother bought “baby” a swing from Mansfield for seven and six. On the 24th, Henry Parkin, grandad’s father, bought a pushchair from Newcombes for one guinea. In July 1918, grandad bought “baby” a teddy bear from Moore’s (see box). The price was 25 shillings but it was £1 in the sale. In April 1919, Eva and Olive went to Nottingham and bought a pushchair for ten guineas. I don’t know why Eva and Olive bought a pushchair only a few months after their father had done so nor why theirs cost ten times what he paid. I am assuming both were for Eva’s daughter, Olive as Olive’s son Leonard would have been ten at this point. I also don’t really have a sense of what these pushchairs were like. I imagine they were very different from the pushchairs we have now.

As yet, I have not found any details of Moore’s.
Examples of prams in the 1930s from the Hobdays catalogue 1933-4
Examples of pushchairs in the 1930s from the Hobdays catalogue 1933-4. There is a photo of mum in a pushchair circa late 1930s in Chapter 22

In September 1920, grandad bought his niece, Olive, a doll’s carriage for £3 17 6 and, in November 1922, he bought Basil a motor car for 67/6.  In September 1932, grandad went to Nottingham after tea and bought a yoyo. I am not sure who this was for. It is possible it could have been for himself. In August 1938, grandma and Olive took mum to Nottingham and they bought her a speedboat for nine and six. As this was a month before her fourth birthday it could have been for that.

1919 postcard featuring girl with a doll’s pram
Example of 1930s yoyo


Sometimes, grandad noted buying toiletries and the like. In February 1914, he bought toilet perfume and toothpaste for 6d each. At least, the entry looks like “toilet perfume” although the second letter looks like an “a“. Grandad noted that Albert Robinson came in as he came back from Mansfield and he brought the toothpaste. In May 1914, grandad noted buying a tube of “tooth stuff”. In July 1914, he noted walking to the market and buying three tablets of soap for 6d. In October 1917, he bought a toothbrush. In September 1919, Eva bought him a “Valet” safety razor for one guinea. In October 1919, grandad and John sent to London for a safety haircutting machine at a cost of one guinea. But when it came, grandad returned it and got his money back.

Images of vintage Valet razor with blades and strop in Bakelite box

Home Remedies

During this period, grandad’s health was not good and he bought a wide range of home remedies (see Chapter 9 and Chapter 23). This was before the National Health Service was formed so he also had to pay to see a doctor. In January 1918, he noted getting a bill of one guinea from Dr Nisbet for some certificates he had provided. In April 1918, he noted buying a magneto machine (see Chapter 9). He got this from E Higham (see box note 1) for fifteen shillings. In May 1918, Cyril bought him Regelax (see Chapter 9) for 2/9 from Boots in Nottingham and, in April 1919, grandad himself bought a big bottle of Clarke’s mixture for 11/6 (see Chapter 23) from Smith’s (see box note 2). By the end of the first world war, he already had some false teeth, despite only being in his twenties. These needed some repairs during this period and, on at least one occasion, these repairs were carried out by Fentons (see box note 3).  

[1] Initially, I was not sure if E Higham was an individual or a trader. I found no details of the latter. I then found details of Ephraim Higham who was a coal miner living in Edward Street at this time. He was the older brother of Annie- Marie Higham who married grandad’s older brother James.  

[2] There were a number of traders by the name of Smith in Kirkby at this time so it may be difficult to establish exactly who he bought this from.

[3] According to the 1928 Kelly’s Directory, Thomas H Fenton was a dentist on Kingsway.


Grandad sometimes noted presents that he bought for grandma, especially in the late 20s in the run up to when they got married in 1930. These presents were often bought in the run up to Christmas or around the time of grandma’s birthday in May. For example, in May 1926, grandad bought grandma a pair of bronze figures for two guineas. In November 1927, he bought her an umbrella for 12/6 and, in December 1928, he bought her a tablecloth. In May 1929, he bought her a pair of candlesticks for 15 shillings and, in December 1929, he bought her a barometer for 14/6. I suspect this latter gift was a case of grandad buying a present that he would have liked to have received himself! As far as I know, grandma was never particularly interested in barometers but grandad was. In July 1927, grandad bought grandma an engagement ring and, in February 1930, he bought her a wedding ring at the same time as buying suits etc (see Chapter 16). In October 1921, grandad bought a wedding present for Billy Clover. He noted the price (19/11) but not what it was!

Grandad’s diary entries for the first week of 1926. It includes note of the two bronzes he bought for grandma’s birthday (8th) and also of the general strike (4th) see Chapter 25

Items for the Home

Particularly after they were married, grandma and grandad did buy items for their home. For example, in July 1930, grandma paid grandad’s father £12 10 0 for the front room suite. In  October 1930, grandad noted going to Rigley’s (see box) and buying a suite and table and, in January 1933, grandad got a hall stand from them for £4 10 0. In February 1933, grandma and grandad had a new tablecloth for £1 10 0. In March 1938, grandad bought a water heater. The price was £5 but he got a £1 discount so paid £4. In April 1938, after tea, he went to Pearsons and bought a primus stove for 17/6.

In the 1928 Kelly Directory, there is an entry for Rigley’s upholsterers in Wollaton Street in Nottingham.


In June 1938, grandma and grandad bought mum two goldfish. They cost 4d each. In July 1938, they bought her two budgies for 12/6. That same month, they bought two more for 6/6. In November 1938, they bought a bird cage for 4/11 plus 6d for the chain.


Grandad had already started buying tools at this time but I suspect the majority of them were for work. In February 1920, he bought five knives for the “finisher off” for 15 shillings and, in August 1927, he had the press repaired at a cost of £2 10 0. In April 1933, Frank Newcombe put up new stairs in the shop at a cost of £2 12 6 (see Chapter 13). In November 1927, grandma bought grandad a steel plane for 18/6. I assume this was a birthday present and was for him personally, not for the shop. In May 1928, grandad went to Mansfield and bought a keyhole saw for 2/7 and, in December 1928, he had a new vice. In June 1929, he bought an electric motor from Jones in Nottingham for £7. In the 1928 Kelly directory, there is a Jones and Co located in Pembridge Place, Mount Street. They are described as trimmings manufacturer. I am not entirely sure what this was.

Other Items

Grandad and others bought a wide range of other items during this period including new glasses, a telescope, a lawnmower, torches (see box note 1), a torch case from Joe, a miniature billiard table for Leonard for 25 shillings,, pencils (see box note 2), a cup that Eva bought for grandad for three and six, a gold locket that Olive bought for grandad from Wightmans for 16 shillings, a candle lamp, a silver purse that grandad bought for Eva for 22/6, a locket for Eva for 27 shillings, a chain and compass for Leonard for 14 shillings, and a box of chocolates for two shillings.

[1] In November 1917, grandad bought a flashlight from Smiths for four shillings and sold it to the shop. He bought another torch for six shillings later that month. In October 1918, Cyril bought grandad a battery for his torch at a cost of one and six. Grandad got a new battery for it for one and nine in December 1918.

[2] In June 1918, Cyril bought grandad a pencil from Nottingham for 3d. In December 1927, grandad went to Nottingham and he noted that his mother bought him a pencil for five shillings.


Grandad did sometimes sell things. For example, in March 1914, he sold someone his golf club for a shilling. This is a slightly puzzling entry. Although he did write the name, I cannot make it out. As far as I know, grandad never played golf. In August 1915, he sold his fretwork outfit to Albert for 3/6. At least I think that is what it says. Again, it is not very clear.