Going back good many years and my mother shopped at grocers in St Cuthbert's Street called Fred West. A really old-fashioned business where they had real shop-keepers standing behind counters and they got everything for you rather than YOU having to get it all in a wire basket or trolley. She must have rung in a weekly shopping order or went in with a list and they made the order up. We must have gone to collect it in the car and park behind the shop and it was all packed in boxes. Those were the days when a customer was treated with respect. Companies go on endlessly about 'customer care' and so on, but those were the days when you'd be called 'Sir' and 'Madam' and there was a chair for you to sit on while they put your order together.
I think a good deal later my mother shopped for groceries at a company called P and A or something. It was in Lovell Road, just off Cardington Road, or at least somewhere in the estate around that area. Considering this was before Tesco's opened their two stores in Bedford, one in Cardington Road on land which was used for the Bedfordforshire Agricultural Show and the other going out of Bedford towards Great Barford, at Goldington Road, this was quite a step forward as it was self-service, but all the produce was kept in it's original boxes of the shelves. Quite cheap for the time. I think she occasionally ventured into the centre of Bedford and shopped at the International Stores in the High Street. In those days you could park in the High Street, which seems amazing today. I think you could park virtually anywhere on the streets in those days (probably late 1950's early 1960's.)
Dudeney and Johnson had a grocers store in the High Street. It would be about where Lloyd's Bank is today. In fact, I think perhaps the bank took over their old building. You could buy virtually any sort of food in there. I think it had a sort of snobbish feel to it, rather like Waitrose today. Upstairs there was a large function room which was used for dances, wedding receptions, and parties. Affectionately know as The Dujon.' I remember going to birthday parties in there as a child. Further down the High Street was the Cadena Cafe which is now a Costa coffee or Starbucks. I haven't been to Bedford for a good many years so I can't say for certain which now has that unit. You could get really nice cakes and bread there and there was always the smell of roasting coffee as you walked past. I think there was a restaurant upstairs.
Yet another shop which my mother used was Saxby's which I'm fairly certain was in Silver Street. I think the unit it was in is now a branch of Next. I'm not sure what became of Saxby's, whether the brand is still in existence of whether it just went out of business (probably taken over by a company such as Unilever.) This was where she bought such things as sausages and sausage meat for sausage rolls as well as buying pork pies.