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The shopping centre generally known as Hilldene Shops is the main shopping area in Harold Hill, strictly speaking the shops are centred on Farnham Rd with some in Chippenham Rd, but its called Hilldene shops and probably always will be. It was the last group of shops to be completed on Harold Hill apart from the Briar Rd shops which were rebuilt following the demolition of the prefab estate in the late sixties and early seventies and the construction of that distinctive part of Harold Hill often referred to as the Briar Rd Estate or the "flowers" Estate because all the roads are named after flowers.
By mid November 1954 the LCC had recieved 4,000 applications for the lease of the shop units in the Hilldene shopping centre. The 4,000 were then taken down to approximately 350 and of these it was noted that 65 of them were tobacconists.

Some of the first tenants were;
Smith's - House Furnishers.
Harodene - Credit drapers and outfitters.
Browning's - Newsagent, stationer and confectioners.
The Westminster Wine Company - Off Licence.
Sparks - Fruiterers & Green Grocers.
R. F. Hawkins (Butchers) Limited. - Butchers.
Messers Davey & Taylor - Dispensing Chemists.
Stanton Radio Ltd. - Radio. Electrical and Music Stores.
Eve Lynn - Ladies and Gentlemens Hairdressers.
Michael Stitcher - Gentleman's Hosier and Outfitters.
Regal Dry Cleaners Ltd.

The above were on the first list made up of those that aquired lease's
to shop units on 18th November 1954. Thanks to Don Tait for this info.

The first photo below is looking down East Dene, Hilldene Cafe (Maple Leaf Cafe) first on the left and the pet shop opposite including it's parrot. In West Dene at the far end of this photo were the public toilets, women on the left and the men on the right.

I dread to think how much time I frittered away in this cafe in the mid 60s spending very little and just hanging out with mates, playing pinball. At that time it was run by a lovely couple, Bob and Connie. They had three kids, Derek, Carol and Bob Jnr. Derek and Carol worked in the cafe but Bob Jnr played very little part in the business affairs. Carol entered into a failed marriage with Jack, the son of the LCC caretaker of the flats, Mick. Mick was a local fixture in those days always found chatting to someone near the arcades (and believe me he could chat)

  For a few weeks or so I washed up for two hours every lunchtime, I got five bob and a dinner of choice at 2pm when I came off duty. It was usually burger, chips and beans. I would sometimes then buy a half ounce of golden virginia around the corner. Anything left over I put in the pin table. I got the sack when I really pissed Bob off by going round his flat late one evening and telling him I wouldn't be there in the morning because I was off to the west country on a hitch hiking jaunt. I thought I was being responsible by letting him know in advance, he thought I had let him down at such short notice. Crossed wires really. He thought I was a fixture, I thought I was a casual. It didn't change my view of him, a great bloke. I don't think he ever thought the same about me.

The other photos below were taken from various commercial sources they are all probably from the early 1960's and 70's, The last one looking down Farnham Rd from the church was taken in 1958.

                                                   Del Smith.