OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Before central heating, deliveries of coal were a regular sight around Ciren and I can remember as a child being half frightened by the coal-blackened man who wore a strange leather hat and bent-backed carried sacks of coal from his lorry to our outhouse. There were nine coal merchants in town at one point who imported coal, first by canal and later by rail to Watermoor station. Frank Gegg was one of the first coal merchants in town and he worked from the Cirencester canal wharf from 1889 using a narrow boat named “Staunch to bring coal into town which he then delivered it to locals with "joey" his horse pulling a cart.
I might have been frightened by the coalman but I certainly wasn’t by another visitor to the Beeches; the “Pop” man who came fortnightly In his red and gold liveried Corona “Pop’ lorry. “Pop” as we called all carbonated soft drinks at the time, came in a variety of different flavours, many of which would probably contravene the Food regulations nowadays but my favourite was the orange fizzy liquid that had probably never been anywhere near the fruit of the same name.
Corona had been manufactured from the 1920’s, but didn’t really reach Ciren until the early 1960’s as part of a marketing campaign on TV by adverts starring popular comedian Dave King. Unlike other foodstuffs such as ice cream, Corona couldn't be bought directly from the lorry and it had to be ordered first. This meant that the “Pop” man became yet another of the commercial callers vying for the housewife’s shilling. It was a long queue: Coalman; Milkman, Newspaper boy, Insurance man, Football Pools collector to name but a few. There were others - the “Tallyman” for example who collected money for items bought “on tick” (as Hire Purchase was known). All men back then and I don't recall any women doing this sort of work.
Photos - Gegg and his coal cart at Ciren canal Wharf
Stop me and buy one
The Thames and Severn Canal Tunnel - Sapperton end circa 1898