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Memories

Arthur Davy and Sons

Davy's  restaurant in SheffieldArthur Davy and Sons pork butchers and general grocers, was a large company in the fifties whose head office was on Paternoster Row in Sheffield.

Their food factory and bread bakery was supplied with pork products from it's own pig farms. Two large grocery shop restaurants served a wide range including morning coffee, afternoon teas on to full blown meals. It was silver service with tea pots, coffee pots etc all in silver - customers were served at the table in the two shops in Sheffield's Haymarket and Fargate.

The building in Rotherham on the corner of All Saints Square mystified some people because of its tudor style. In fact the whole building was Davy's. I started work there in 1951 at the age of 18 when Mr H Anderson was the manager. My job was as general dogsbody - if any assistant wanted anything from the stores you fetched it; you fetched and carried for the bakery in the basement up to the kitchen on the top floor.

Davy's specialised in its own tea and coffee blending. The roaster was in the window at the front of the shop. My mate Alan saw to it. If he left it too long it became continental. He once turned on the gas and went to look for a match in the cellar, came back, struck the match and blew out the window.

The double doors at the bottom of the church steps were the packing room where customer’s orders were packed. If they had run out of something they would send me to Bingham’s to buy it. I was sent with some orders cash on delivery, the mystery house on Westgate, I was sent to a house on Eastwood in the front room were large bottles of spirits. I was told to sit and wait - an alsation dog watched me. I looked around and saw that when decorating they had painted around everything. I did not get paid and brought the goods out.

Mr Jepson and Mr Gibson were the bakers. Mr Jepson was very good; I used to watch him decorate cakes. He would send me for sulphate of ammonia to put in choux pastry which blew it up bigger.

There were two methods that heated water - a type of immersion heater in the cellar with a large wheel on top and a coke fired boiler about six foot high and three foot wide. Someone once set them both going and the whole system was turning to steam. A large bowser in the cellar was vibrating. The boss said I had to climb on top and release the pressure. I said "What if it explodes?” he said "We'll come to that." I had to rake off the hot fire.

When I first went there the whole cellar used to flood - we shovelled water out.

Davy's was the headquarters of the Rotary Club and at their annual Christmas dinners the chef carried in a boars head. One day a dog pinched a link of sausages and they sent me to take it off it. Anderson was a stickler about pinching - he prosecuted a kid over a tube of Refreshers - if I caught them I let them go. There were shops at Doncaster and Worksop. They sold out to United Biscuits

Davy's  restaurant in Sheffield

Davy's restaurant in Sheffield, Victoria Cafe, was at 40 Fargate,
now occupied by W. H. Smith.

High on the wall are four carved heads of pigs.

 

E. J. Crossland, January, 2008

 

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