There is a well preserved ghost sign on the side of the top storey of the Bromley Bike Co shop on Widmore Road. I have been in the shop, stood at bus stops opposite but had never looked up until it was mentioned to me on twitter after posting on the Wallace Pring sign at Bromley Common.
The business was run by Isaac Uridge. However, it wasn’t the first shop of a similar name in the area. The first was opened by Isaac’s father, also Issac, who had moved with his wife Elizabeth to Bromley in 1855 where they opened a shop at at 12-13 Market Square.
The shop had clearly become well known, such that by 1872 when there were calls for greater traffic involvement from the police due to the level of accidents at ‘Uridges Corner’.
Isaac, senior, died in 1874 and it appears that at least some of the older children carried on the business until around 1881 at the Market Square, as there were still Uridges listed as living there in the census. However, by the 1882 Kelly’s Directory, the Market Square shop was no longer trading. This seems likely to be because the building was demolished to widen the road. The building on the corner, now Café Rouge, is dated 1883.
The two oldest children Henry and William were running the same business at 15 Widmore Road, a few doors doors down from the sign, and now a Pizza Express. Kellys listed them as grocers, wine and sprit merchants and were agents for W & A Gilbey – who were then wine retailers, they didn’t add their own brand gin to their portfolio until 1895.
The brothers’ partnership was dissolved in late 1884, though William continued the business opening new shops in Blackheath (Shooters Hill Road) and Chislehurst. Henry and William both married 2nd cousins of Bromley’s famous ‘son’, HG Wells, (Marion & Minnie respectively) and both died young, William in 1895 aged around 37. The shops formerly run by William in Blackheath and Widmore Road were quickly disposed of. The executors of his will were still running the shop in Chislehurst in the 1913 Kelly’s.
Isaac (junior) was born in 1866 and by 1903 was running the shop with the ghost sign at 27 Widmore Road as well as another at 25 Masons Hill. By 1913 (Kelly’s) he had extended the business to include a shop at 2-4 London Road, Sevenoaks.
Isaac took over the W & A Gilbey franchise, and described the shop as ‘High Class Stores’ in an advertisement in a 1906 Bromley Public Library Bulletin which had them selling groceries, fresh and dried fruits, provisions, wines and spirits, pork and poultry, ales and stout – an early incarnation of Waitrose, perhaps?
The business was certainly trading into the early 1950s and possibly beyond, although it is not clear whether it was still at Widmore Road and how long they remained in the family – the Sevenoaks shops was sold in 1938, when Isaac would have been 72. However, it is possible that his daughter, Ella, may have continued to run the business.