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Clarke's, 68 Golborne Road

Focus on business: Clarke, 68 Golborne Road
September 2008

Reg Thackeray has been the proprietor of Clarke's, and living above it, for 31 years. Before that, he ran the antiques arcade that used to be at 93 Portobello Road. Older readers may remember the delicious sausage sandwiches that the little cafe at the back of the arcade served.

Born and brought up on St Ervans Road when it was a street of Victorian houses, his family worked as house clearers and second-hand goods dealers. Reg remembers that their ten-roomed house was compulsorily purchased in the 1970s for £11,500, to make way for the modern maisonettes that are there now.

Reg's stock is an extraordinary collection of novelty goods, toys and memorabilia that he has collected over the last three decades from car boot sales, auctions and second-hand shops. Antique tinplate toys, alarm clocks, plaques and glass figurines cover every wall and surface in the shop.

"When I took over the business it was described as a corn chandlers and sold all sorts of pet food - everything from rabbit food to dog biscuits," says Reg. "I carried on selling pet food until a couple of years ago but now I am just offering the goods you see here for sale."

There's a children's ride outside in the form of a distinctly unferocious lion which costs 20p - much cheaper than the rides you'll find in shopping centres. The shop window was graced for many years by Reg's cat, Pebbles, sleeping peacefully. Sadly, Pebbles passed away a couple of years ago, but there's still a picture in the window.

Thanks to a project by local school children, Reg knows a lot about the history of his property. It was built in 1869 by Thomas Ireland, a builder based in Lancaster Road.

William Gibson, who ran what was obviously a prosperous butchers shop at 11 Golborne Road, bought 55, 66, and 68 Golborne Road in 1870. In 1875 he rented number 68 to Robert Cavers, a cabinet maker and in 1887 Frederick William Clarke and his wife Margaret took it over and ran it as a corn chandlers, paying a rent of £50 per year.

The Clarke's daughter took over the business in 1934 and bought the freehold in 1957 for £625. Reg took on the property in 1977.

If you're looking for an unusual gift or your tastes run to quintessentially English bric-a-brac, pop into number 68 and have a chat with Reg.

Take a look at some more photos of Reg's shop here