OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Standard readers might remember that I wrote recently about ordering Groceries in 1950’s Ciren, but I didn’t mention payment. Back then it was a time when “Plastic” hadn’t been invented and it was cash only. Cheques were in use, but I don’t think many people from the Beeches where I came from, had access to this form of payment. Working people at the time, were paid in Cash and usually paid weekly; the money handed to the employee in a brown envelope with window in it to allow the edge of the notes within to be counted before the seal was broken. Every shop took cash which was placed in a mechanical till which had a bell that rang when the cash drawer was opened. Shops usually had a single cash till: centrally placed and staffed by a person who only did this particular job. This worked well for smaller shops such as Jessie Smiths the Butchers and Wheeler’s Stores in Cricklade Street, but larger shops such as Boultons in the Market Place or Clappens used different methods: French and Sons in West Market Place had a sort of overhead system comprising a taut wire that ran from the sales desk to the cashier’s station; a cage-like booth which was somewhere out of sight in the shop. The sales assistant would put the customers’ money into a cannister attached to the wire and by tugging firmly on a spring-loaded lever, the canister would be catapulted along the wire, reaching its destination in mere seconds. The cashier could then “return fire” with the change and a receipt.
Mitchells drapers in Castle street had a vacuum system where customers’ money would be placed in a cannister: inserted into tubing; to be rapidly sucked though to a distant cashier. Sometimes the capsules would get stuck in the vacuum pipe and the Manager would have to climb amongst the tubing to extricate the capsule.