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The Curd Family were Hawkers as well as Surrey Street Traders

The Curd family is another old-established trading family of Surrey Street who were there before licenses were issued.

Bill Curd senior (who lived from 1894 till 1977) and his wife owned a yard and stable in Grace Road, West Croydon.

As well as running several stalls in Surrey Street, they were also hawkers and traded between North End and West Croydon station, using the original costermonger barrels.

At the turn of the century, London's costermongers and street hawkers numbered around 60,000.

Costermongers were originally apple sellers and the name is derived from the costard, a very large and sour native apple, well-known in the 18th century.

The hawkers' type of trading continued until about the mid 1920's, when traffic increased in volume and made it almost impossible for this type of trade to be continued along the high street, because the barrows were a nuisance.

The police would confiscate goods, and barrows, after warnings had been given.

This marked the end of the North End hand-barrow trading.

Between the first and second World Wars, Bill Curd senior had a flourishing wholesale fruit business and three retail green grocery shops. He became the biggest dealer in horses and ponies in the South of England during the Second World War, taking advantages of the petrol shortage.

He bought both harness and saddle horses from Wales which were transported by rail and sold on to trades-people such as the United Diaries milk farm, bakers and greengrocers.

Bill Curd senior also sold horses to the army, which were used by mounted Home Guard in East Anglia.

In addition to being a fruit merchant, he was also the first chairman of the Surrey Street Federation, back in the 1950's.

The association still exists today and operates in a fashion similar to a union, looking after the interests of the market traders and its 'birthplace'.

In earlier years there was a waiting list of approximately 200 people who were waiting for stalls. Interviewing, which still takes place, determined whether a would-be trader had sufficient stock money, transport and other necessities.

The association preferred family members taking on stalls. That was one of its aims, as old-established families wanted their offspring to continue and would even help the market traders with loans.

The association was also involved with many charities, supporting the nearby Ellis Davis Homes for the Elderly, with each family receiving fruit, vegetable and grocery hampers in addition to winter coal, each Christmas.

Bill Curd, retires to live in Eastbourne, Sussex, but his family still carries on the business in Surrey Street.

Pictures : Above - Surrey Street traders bringing in their produce. Portrait - Bill Curd taken in 1975.


Last modified: 14th January 2013 - Copyright Canning and Clyde Residents Association