Home History of Rode Shops High Street Shops

High Street Shops

At the turn of the century Rode was far more inter-dependant as a village than it is today, and it was only for a special outing or occasion that anyone travelled to Frome or Trowbridge – in fact it was quite common for villagers to live full and happy lives here and die, never having ventured as far as Bath.

In those days a visitor leaving the main road at Woolverton would pass Rode Manor hidden in the trees of its lovely park. Approaching the bridge, he would be impressed by all the activity emanating from the Mill – which as well as producing flour, at one time also generated electricity for Rode Manor – and from the house across the bridge (Manners) which was the laundry for the Manor, with stables alongside for the Mill’s horses.

Heading up Road Hill, morbid curiosity would attract his attention to Road Hill House (Langham House) scene of the then fairly recent child murder, news of which had spread far and wide, and charge or no charge, both culprit and motive were stiIl open to conjecture (the story was re-told in Kate Summerscale’s book “The Suspicions of Mr Whicher”). Just below Christchurch (on the site of Virginia Cottage) in Langham Place was Road Hill National School (closed in 1916) and at that time the Rector lived next door to his Church (Daubeney House).

Turning into Upper Street (High Street) he would notice the new Victorian facades of the three detached houses on his right (Stacey, Daymond & Noad) and would pass the decorator’s window full of paints and wallpapers beyond. There being no houses at all on Fairfield, of course, and even in Marsh Road, the sloping field was a gentle scene of grazing sheep and cattle.

Assuming our visitor has picked the right week in September, he will by now be among the crowds attracted to the Pound (Village Green but with railings around it), normally used to hold stray sheep until claimed, but this particular week is Rode’s Annual Fete and Sports Day, and here in the Pound there are coconut shies, sweet stalls, a shooting gallery and all the fun of the fair.

Being always a friendly village, our visitor is spotted as a stranger and invited to join a group popping into the White Hart (Tanner) for refreshment: the talk within is of the Athletics in Ten Acre Field, the Cricket at Merfield, and plans for Road Revel Sunday later in the week when everyone will collect outside the factory in Townsend (entrance to the Mead) and march behind the Rode Amateur Brass Band to a Thanksgiving Service at Christchurch.

But our friend must press on, past the Baptist Church, the baker (Craven) and the then Post Office (Hughes). He would, surely take a second look at the Blind House (the blank corner beside Mr. Hughes’ paraffin store) so named for its slit cell-like windows, where “drunkards and men of violence” were locked up overnight, and across the road the three fat cats basking in the sun along the row of sweet jars in Hettie Toop’s shop window (Squirrel), might well beckon him as they unfailingly beckoned all passing children.

The Cross Keys was then the home of the Fussel family, where Sydney Fussel first started brewing beer as a side-line to his bakery business; this was so popular that his sons soon found themselves delivering to private houses as far away as Swindon and Southampton. Thus, concurrent with the demise of the milling industry in the village, grew up a new business to maintain its livelihood. The Fussels used the Corner House (Gibson) as offices and built on “the point”, which later became a barbers shop, next door to which was the fashionable outfitters (Dutru) well-placed alongside the high class boot and shoemakers shop (Greystones), in the large bay window of which was always a magnificent display of hand-made footwear – men’s fine hobnail boots at 12/6d per pair, and exquisite ladies soft kid boots, with tiny buttons right up the calf, for the princely sum of 7/6d per pair.

But our visitor is wandering! He must continue past the Methodist Chapel and another grocery shop (Jenkins) with Happerfields HalI (Coulter) behind – nicknamed Ticklebelly Chapel and the venue for dancing classes, whist drives and concerts – until he comes upon the new Methodist Primary School.

Thinking he is on his way out of the village, he crosses over to the George (Wilkinson) for a farewell glass of good cheer …. only to be told that he has missed Lower Street …. so he will have to come back again next month!! [Text from an article in the May 1976 edition of The Link, from information provided by Miss Woolley and Mt & Mrs RG Fussel]

Street NumberDatesOwnerTradeLink (if applicable)
81842-1889Charles HapperfieldGrocer/draper/PO
??Sidney StokesBaker/grocer
1960-1972RogersWavyline grocer
The Chimes??Jason GeeSadler/harness maker
15??JacksonCoal Merchant
181802-??John GoulterPlumber/painter/glazier
?? – 1940sEC FrickerPainter/glazier
19 (Red Lion)1861-1911NoadButcher
20 (Cross Keys)1858 – Henry FussellGrocer/baker/brewer
211700sEdwardsMineral water
??Charles HardingCobbler
??FussellVrewery offices/barber
22 (Ivy House)??PenroseHigh class butcher
?? – 1940sCharles ArnoldDairy
??FreemanTailor/draper; Fruit shop
??FriendClock repairer
??Drs Duncan & FlemingSurgery
24?? – 1940sJeremiah & Misses ToopGrocer/sweets
25??SayBoot/shoe maker
??MartinBoot maker
Chocolate House??Brushes/boot cleaners (Hedgehog Factory)
32??J MillardBaker
381915George BroadwayFruiterer/newsagent
Hughes Court1880-1924GW StokesDraper/grocer/PO/general store
63??Virtue Noad (?)Grocer/sweetshop
????Decorator/paint shop
Forge Cottage????Blacksmith
71a (Dower Cottage)1872ProsserOrgan Maker
24 July 2023
Last Updated
12 January 2024