Grocer’s at 24 New High Street
Left: the main grocer’s shop of New Headington village at 24 New High Street (detail from a postcard of c.1905); Right: the shop shown on the 1876 map of New Headington, with the village smithy behind.
At the time of the 1881 census this shop was occupied by John Pearce (a wheelwright aged 61), his wife Jane (a shopkeeper aged 58), and their five children ranging in age from 14 to 36. He would have made and repaired wheels and carts in the smithy behind while his wife ran a shop in the downstairs front room.
By the time of the next census in 1891, Jane had been widowed and was living in a newer house a few doors down at No. 28, and the village shop was now occupied by Thomas Vallis and his wife and two children. A much younger man of 29, he remained as grocer and butcher here from 1887 to 1905. Henry Steers had the shop from 1905, and can be seen there in the 1911 census, when he was 53, living with his wife Emily (54) and his three daughters: Camilla (23) and Ella (21) assisted in the shop, while Mabel (18) was a school teacher.
In 1918 Thomas Schofield (sometimes misspelt as Scholefield) took over the shop. He is still remembered today with nostalgia by older people in New Headington, as he was the shopkeeper here for forty years until the late 1950s. He came from Wakefield and threw himself into the local community, helping with the Headington United youth football teams.
Known as “Schoey”, he was reputed to have sold “everything” in his shop, which was originally lit by hurricane lamps suspended from the rafters. At a time when women were expected to carry all the shopping home as well as look after young children, the Co-op on the corner of Windmill Road would sometimes seem too far: and Mr Schofield was often open when the Co-op was closed and willing to sell a loaf of bread discreetly at the back door on a Sunday. He retired in the 1950s, and died in Oxford at the age of 75 in 1956.
In about 1960 the shop was closed and turned into flats.