Shops & Businesses

Here we take a stroll down Main Street and a walk into the past

Forman's Bicycle Shop and Grocers, 36 Main Street, Kirby Muxloe

It was a transport business, a bicycle sales and repair shop and a grocers, so diversifying is not a modern invention !

Fred Forman was born in Stapleton in 1885. By 1901, he had moved with his family to Yew Tree Inn, Ratby, where his father was the publican. He married Eleanor Chesterton, whose family have a long history in Kirby Muxloe, in 1905. The newly-weds set up home in the village and soon after the wedding, Fred started up his carrier’s business. Initially, goods were transported by horse and cart and then later Fred purchased a lorry, which was used for carrying goods in the morning, and converted to a bus in the afternoon. Sadly, Eleanor died in 1921, followed by Fred in 1923. Their son John/Jack took over the business, eventually increasing the number of buses to three, all based at Ivy House, 39 Main Street. The buses were kept in a large wooden shed with a “Pratt’s Petroleum” petrol pump and storage at the front. However, due to increased competition from the Midland Red, Jack decided to sell the buses a few years later.

In 1931, Miss Lizzie Chesterton purchased a new bungalow built on the other side of the road, on land belonging to a Mr Jacques. Lizzie, who had run a small grocery business at 39 Main Street, moved across the road, together with her sister and nephew Jack. The new bungalow was called ‘Clacton’. Lizzie also moved her business across the road into the bungalow, converting the right-hand side of the building into a shop with a window display. Early in the 1930’s, Jack established a bicycle sales and repair business there. He built a large workshop at the rear of the bungalow and a glass lean-to at the side, which served as a bicycle accessories display area. In 1939, Jack married Annie, who helped her husband and his aunt in the shops. During WWII as a bicycle dealer and repairer, Jack was classified as having a Reserve Occupation, since cycle maintenance was very important, as other forms of transport were very limited. In 1962, the glass lean-to was replaced by a brick-built extension which provided a larger display area for the grocery business. However, by 1971 Jack had closed the cycle business. The grocery business continued for the next two years under different management. For a short while, Annie reopened the shop to sell knitwear and hosiery but it closed within two years. The shop then traded as a greengrocer and florist under E.A. Rawson & Sons. Since 1980 the shop has been a private home and is now called ‘Oak View’.

There have been some very happy memories attributed to the building – during the ‘60’s and ‘70’s Annie Forman used to run regular bingo sessions at the bungalow. Using every single room for the participants and with the caller in the hall, these sessions were very popular and raised valuable money for the Women’s Section of the British Legion. Lastly, but always remembered, the present occupants, who knew the Forman’s have made sure to keep and nurture Annie Forman’s flowering currant bush, which Annie planted in her much-loved garden. It still comes up smiling every year!