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Remembering the sellers who came to our door

Posted on 24 April 2016

Whatever did we do before Amazon?

Online shopping delivered to your door is certainly big these days. But when you think about it, it’s far from a new thing.

When we were kids, there was always someone at the door dropping something off or plying a trade. Door-to-door salesman, the rag and bone man, the coal man. It’s a surprise mum ever got anything done!

Some who visited us were real characters - we gave them nicknames or just called them 'the Friday Man' if that was the day he came. And then there were those that frightened the life out of us as we hid behind our mothers’ skirts.

Groceries delivery

Groceries came from the local shop via delivery boys on their bicycles. While some of the bigger stores used vans or even had mobile shops. If your family shopped at the local Co-op, you can probably still recite your 'divvy' number today.

grocery-self-service

Source: nottstalgia.com

 

The Betterware man

He’d pop open his brown leather suitcase to reveal a host of brushes, dusters and those rubber tea towel holders. Mum was sometimes persuaded to add an order to his pad with a free sample of lavender-scented polish.

betterware-man

Source: Alamy.com

 

Dustbin men

Before wheelie bins, dustmen would throw heavy metal bins on their shoulders and empty them into the cart. A protective leather waistcoat was the closest they ever came to health and safety.

dustbin-men

Source: jameswaste.co.uk Image courtesy of thedailymail.co.uk

 

French onion sellers

Remember the 'Onion Johnnies'? These beret-wearing, bicycle riding sellers arrived every summer to peddle their wares (literally). It was the first time many of us had met anyone from France, so hearing them speak was quite a novelty!

french-onion-sellers

Source: curiousrambler.com

 

Rag and bone man

When you heard the cry 'any old iron' you'd gather up your old clothes or broken bits and see what you could swap them for. There was always one kid who got a good hiding for giving away their dad's jacket in return for a balloon or bouncy ball.

rag-and-bone-man

Source: Alamy.com

 

The coal man

Covered in soot from head to toe, he’d terrify kids everywhere. He'd lug a hundred weight of coal off the lorry and deliver it to your coal store. If he had to go through the house, you’ll remember your mum frantically laying down newspaper to save the carpet.

coal-man

Source: Alamy.com

 

The milkman

In the early days, milk was ladled from a big churn into your own jug. Then came milk bottles and the early morning sound of clinking crates and the hum of the electric float.

milkman

Source: Alamy.com

 

The man from the Pru

Suited and booted, he'd arrive at the doorstep and be invited in for a cup of tea before collecting the insurance money. He must have called at so many homes, but he never once forgot our names.

man-from-the-pru

Source: Alamy.com

 

Gypsies

They travelled around in their horse-drawn caravans, sharpening knives or selling wooden pegs and 'lucky' heather. Some of us bought something just to get rid of them - rumour had it they'd put a curse on you if you didn't.

traveller

Source: Alamy.com

 

Fizzy pop deliveries

We’d jump with excitement when we heard the Corona or Alpine lorry rattling up the street. Mum would treat us to a spring-topped bottle of cherryade or dandelion and burdock with the stern warning: 'don't drink it all at once.'

fizzy-pop-delivery

Source: penbanc.net

 

What are your memories of doorstep sellers and deliveries? Are there any stories or colourful characters that stick in your mind? We’d love to hear them.

If you've enjoyed this trip back to the neighbourhood of our childhood, you might also like to join us as we take a look at growing up in Britain in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50s life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, equity release, pet insurance, home insurance, car insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Ltd which is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.