LITTLE Clarendon Street in Oxford was once known as “the village within a city”.

It had a series of small, vibrant shops that gave customers almost all they needed. What’s more, the service from shopkeepers and their staff in the street, at the north end of St Giles, was second to none.

Former resident Bob Hounslow recalls: “They were there to serve, hurrying to fetch the items on our order, politely handing us our change and helping us put our shopping in our wicker baskets.

“They operated in a market where only a small quantity of food was bought at one time, as we didn’t have a fridge, only a larder.

“The food was fresh and contained none of the chemicals of today. You rarely saw an obese person.”

Many of the shops were opened in the downstairs rooms of houses – the Hounslows' home at No 13 was originally a toy and sweet shop, run by two Miss Dandridges.

Mr Hounslow, of Squires Close, Brize Norton, remembers Willey’s newsagents, a warm, cosy shop where you were immediately struck by the “strong smell of paper and the oily odour of newsprint”.

Other traders included Jenkins’s greengrocery shop, Wiggins’s dairy, Argyle’s the fishmongers, where fish was kept fresh by big blocks of ice lifted into the shop with a giant pair of metal tongs, and Exon’s, where there was a lovely aroma of freshly-baked bread.

There was also a cycle repair shop, Mr Eakett’s cobblers shop, and Sid Butler’s butcher’s shop.

“The best, however, was Miss East’s (later Mrs Cox’s) tiny little sweet shop where, if I was lucky, I would spend my pocket money and ration coupons on my all-time favourites – Bluebird liquorice toffees. To celebrate, I might treat us all to a Lyons’ ice cream cornet. Absolutely delicious!”

Mr Hounslow has fond memories of living at No 13.

He writes: “What fun I had in that comfortable front room as a young boy, playing with the train set I’d been given for Christmas, warmed by the coal fire glowing in the grate.

“Mind you, I was quite shocked to hear Father Christmas swear when he stubbed his toe on the stairs delivering my presents,” he added.