(adapted from Frank Mansey’s Guide to Ripley’s Heritage Part Two : South pages 4-8 )
Oxford Street was developed in 1853-4, and intended to be called Booth Street.
The street was not totally commercial at the ground level as it is today, but was partially residential with colliery and textile workers living alongside the shop owners who lived on their premises.
Near the top of the street there were a small number of dwellings along Cooper Street on the right, and along Well Street on the left.
Several well known businesses were to be found in Oxford Street. To imagine these shops, think of walking up from Park Street towards the Market Place.
At the bottom of the street, a Mrs Priestley started her business life with a wet fish shop in the front room of a house next but one to the corner shop, later moving across the street to open a coal fired chip shop next door but two to the New Inn. Then Miss Priestley opened a piano and music shop in the house between the two. When the inn closed around 1900 the family took it over as a shop whilst remaining in the two adjacent buildings until about 2001. It was refitted, and reopened as a mobile phone shop in 2004.
In 1888 Mr John Marshall came from Clay Cross and opened a watchmaking business, apparently in the shop where Mrs Priestley had opened her first venture. There he stayed until 1900 when he moved to larger premises up the street, starting now to sell ironmongery as well, and he acquired the shop next door for his wife to have a confectionery business. By then he had become a prosperous entrepreneur, and in 1901 he built the Working Men’s Home near the top of Booth Street; it is now a block of flats. In 1905 he exchanged the uses of his shops, numbers 41 and 43, and in 1908 he opened the Zoological gardens at the rear of them, reached by an entry between them. There were numerous animals, an aviary, a monkey house and a museum with waxworks. Included in this amazing establishment there was even a Turkish Bath that was operated by dripping water on to a steel plate that was heated by a gas ring below it. Unfortunately the enterprise had to close in 1915 when the war made it impossible to get food for the animals.
On your right, the jewellery shop at number 38 has a double history. Mr John White came to Marehay in 1884 and opened his first shop opposite the Royal Oak public house, and then in 1889 he moved to Station Road, now Peasehill. In 1901 he had a shop specially built for him, later the House of Tom Peel, next but one to the Regal on Nottingham Road. He brought his sons in as partners and theirs was the first shop in Ripley to sell pianos, gramophones and wirelesses as well. They also opened a busy wholesale tobacco, confectionery and fancy goods outlet in the 1920s. When the business changed hands in 1975, John’s grandson Michael brought the jewellery trade to Oxford Street, and stayed until he retired and sold it to the present owners in 2001.
This shop had, however, originally been occupied by Mr William Watson, confectioner, and by then his daughter and son-in-law who followed the trade. Included in the sweets they made was the locally famous Tommy Dod rock. When they moved, Mrs Blount bought the business, and then Mrs Woore established her millinery business there later.
Higher up the street Fowlers’ music shop is on your left. In February 1904 Mr Albert Fowler was advertising music lessons, to be given in Grosvenor Street. Later that year he opened a shop at the bottom of Dannah Street, later moving again to Oxford Street. In 1913, he moved a few doors higher up the street, to the present shop where until this year the business was run by his grandsons.
Before Wall Street was the Horse and Groom pub, at number 30. It existed from before 1870 to 1980.
Immediately after Wall Street, at number 28, was the Angel Inn, with its door on the corner and the landord’s living quarters up Oxford Street beyond the inn. The Angel existed well into the 20th century, and then it was used for some time as a distribution depot by a Derby drinks supplier. The next users of the premises were Messrs. C. and B, Mason, clothiers, followed in the 1950s by Phillip Hurst Ltd, dealers in electrical goods, who moved from High Street. Mr. John Dexter, followed by his son, and then Derbelec in turn owned the business from 1973 to 1984, under the same name. Their successor, the Sherwood Bed Shop, came to Ripley in 1995.
The last shop on this side of the street (your left) was originally the furniture and cabinet maker’s business of a Mr. William Cooper, who was followed in 1904 by Mr. E. J. Norman, also a furniture dealer. When he retired in 1905 it became Jephsons’ hardware business, after which it again became a large furniture shop with first floor showrooms, owned by T. H. Greaves Ltd. until 1982. They were followed by another furniture firm, Chapman and Shaw of Belper, and then in 1989 came a complete change of commodity when Amanda Creations moved in with their ladies’ lingerie. That business closed in March 1998 and the building, having been refurbished, is now the Manor Pharmacy.
The last shop before the corner on the other side of the road, was that of Mr. Horace Bourne. He had worked at Kents’ ironmongers shop round the corner for 10 years, and in 1938 he opened his own similar shop in these premises. Horace became a renowned and respected personality. Although the shop was stuffed solid with goods, it was possible to go in and ask for an unusual item, and from behind a row of forks and spades and from the bottom of a stack of boxes there, he would produce exactly what was wanted. He would advise on the best way to do a job, and supply the equipment to do it, all at a reasonable price. He was also a part time fireman, and when he was called to a fire, he would phone his wife to come from home in Shirley road and take over.
On the corner on your right was Wain’s Chemists shop with Kents’ shop next door on High Street. Wains’ home, called Bleak House, was at the back of Kents’ shop. Mr. W.S. Wain, whose father had been a Nottingham chemist since before 1823, came to Ripley in 1855. After being on his own for a while, he is shown in 1884 as being in partnership with a Mr. Illsley, and then his brother Mr. Percy Wain took a small shop down Oxford Street, as an optician’s. In September 1904 Bleak House was to let, and by 1907 W. S was on his own again. Brother Percy retired and the whole business and premises were sold to Mr J H Hurst in 1953. Kent’s shop and Bleak House were incorporated into their shop by Hursts, and when Mr Bourne retired in May 1977 his premises became Hursts’ photographic department. Mr Hurst’s son Brian took over the business in 1966 and ran it until he retired in July 2004. He then sold it to Miss Jacqueline Hart, so those buildings have been in use for the same purpose for a century and a half.