Partleton Newsagents



Next time you are in London, catch the District Line on the Underground to Wimbledon Park Tube Station:

Step out of the station, and look eastwards; here's what you'll see:

How did that shop get there? Partleton Food & Wine?

It's a good question, and one to which we have the answer - but please be warned that this story has a tragic ending.

We have to go back to Lambeth in 1888 when Susan Ann Pirie gave birth to a daughter, Rosetta Edith Smith, highlighted in green in the tree below. Rosetta is from Susan's first marriage, to George William Smith:

Here's Rosetta's birth certificate, courtesy of Terry Partleton, who provides all these certs:

Rosetta's dad George William Smith died before she was 8 years old, and in 1896, Susan Pirie married for a second time, to Charles "Wag" Partleton.

Charles and Susan had five children, the youngest of whom was Alfred, born in 1906. Notable here is that the Partleton family, after nearly 100 years, are finally edging their way out of Lambeth, in this case to Wandsworth, a little further to the south-west:

Rosetta at the time of her baby brother Alfred's birth was already 18 years old.

So we move on another three years, exactly 100 years ago, in 1909, the above-mentioned Rosetta Edith Smith, aged 21, married Thomas Edward Peddie. Tom Peddie is a newspaper vendor, a natural businessman, and a bit of a character who has several men working for him at newsstands at a number of locations in the Wimbledon area, including a pitch at Wimbledon Station and one outside Wimbledon Park Station.

Let's get our bearings here.

I guess not all of our gentle readers are familiar with Wimbledon. I grew up in Norwood and the Croydon area, just 7 miles away - and I hardly know it myself:

Here's the location of Wimbledon Station and Wimbledon Park Station:

Tennis fans will note that Wimbledon Park Station is just a mile from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, outlined in yellow, where the annual Wimbledon tennis championships are held. I'm bound to say that I've had a close look at the satellite photo and I can't discern many croquet pitches and I don't recollect last year's TV coverage of the thrilling croquet final. Perhaps they should drop that bit from the name. Just kidding.

The crowds flooding through the tube stations must have been quite a boost to Tom Peddie's newspaper stands during Wimbledon tennis fortnight. In the picture below, taken from the top deck of a bus, we see punters at Wimbledon in 1937 queuing patiently for their turn to get on the buses, carrying newspapers which they might have bought from Tom Peddie!

Here's Wimbledon Station in its first - Victorian - incarnation:

Tom and Rose Peddie would have witnessed major changes around their news stand when Wimbledon Station was completely rebuilt in 1929 in Art Deco style. Very nice:

But it's Wimbledon Park Station which we are really interested in because that's where the Partleton shop is, so let's go back there...

Here's what we see today when we look westwards, across the railway bridge with Wimbledon Park Station on our left:

And here's the exact same view in the 1920's, just as Tom and Rose would have seen it, attending their newspaper stand at the left of the picture:

Wouldn't it be great if we could see Rose and Tom at their work?... well, as fate would have it, we do have exactly this picture, as it has been handed down through the years; Tom Peddie and his wife Rose and their newspaper stand directly outside Wimbledon Park Station:

My information is that it was mostly Rose who worked this pitch. I guess that's Rose's handbag under the cart! Tom would have been at one of the other locations, yelling "EEEEEEEE'EEN STANDARD!!!".

This was a successful business for many years, and right from the beginning, starting in 1914 when he was just 8, Rose's younger (half-) brother Alfred Partleton was involved, working for Tom Peddie.

  Left: Alfred Partleton

Alfred is highlighted in purple at the right of the tree below:

In 1932 Alfred married Maisie Botting at the church of  St Mary's Summerstown, Wimbledon:

We see in the above certificate, Alf's profession as newsvendor, still working for Tom Peddie.

After WW2, Alfred Partleton bought out the newspaper pitches from his brother-in-law Tom Peddie, but with this financial commitment, he & Maisie were going to have to work pretty hard to turn a profit. Alf's daughter Heather provides us with a little insight into their lives:

"Mum worked with Dad. She walked to Wimbledon Park each early morning & back in time to get us kids off to school, it is a long walk too... Dad worked very long hours, up at 4.30 to start at 5am, God knows what time he finished while still doing the evening papers as well. His favourite call was always: 'Star, News Standard pepair, Man kicked to death by a spider'. Perhaps that was just to entertain us girls."

Above we see a picture of Alf, taken in 1951 at the west side of the railway bridge. The cart was stored overnight in a garage opposite - no doubt for a few bob a week to the garage owner - and wheeled into position in the morning. It's a nice summer's day in the picture, but imagine it on a cold dark rainy winter's morning at 5am. On the reverse of this photograph, his wife Maisie wrote "When we struggled to survive."

In fact we can carbon-date the above photograph to the exact week: 09 June 1951...

How?... Check out that copy of Paris Match on the newsstand...

Left: Paris Match w/c 09 June 1951

I found the above on French Ebay. I should have been a detective. The lady on the cover is Yolande Betbeze, Miss America 1951, though that might appear an unlikely accolade from that terrible cover photograph. This lady is still alive, aged 80 in 2009.

Here's another picture of Yolande. Ah, that's better:

Where was I?

Ah yes, Alf Partleton...  was running the newspaper stand outside Wimbledon Park Station; a fact well known to his nephews - my uncles - who were employed by him in the role of paperboys.

Around 1960, Alf had built the business up successfully enough for him to buy the news stand inside the station, which we see in the photos below, from newsagent chain W H Smith:


Ah, that looks a lot more comfortable than standing out in the rain.

But in 1971, Alf died suddenly while working at the stall. Perhaps he's been working too hard?:

After Alf's sudden death, the business was bought out by a former employee and his associates, who kept the Partleton name for the newspaper business. In 1974, the small tobacconist shop at the front of the station, which had been owned by the Finlay chain of tobacconists, closed - a clear opportunity for the Partleton business - no longer owned by the Partleton family - to expand a little. The shop was taken over and renamed Partleton, with Maisie's blessing.

Below we see the small shop in it's present-day incarnation 'Jay's News':

Here's my mum, Joan Partleton (1928-2003) being interviewed by me nine years ago in July 2000, taking notes for my first effort at a family tree. Joan has some amusing reminiscences about Tom Peddie. The racket in the background is my dad, like Homer Simpson, watching TV with the sound up really loud:

And here, Joan briefly talks about her uncle who took over the business - Alfred Partleton - whose nickname in the family was 'Bo' :

But what about the shop on the other side of the road - how did this come about? The answer, at the end of this long story, is that it does not have a direct connection with the Partleton family.

in 1975, the sweet shop across the road came up for sale, was bought by the Partleton business and renamed also as Partleton, again with Maisie's permission. Here's the shop in the 1990's:

And that seemed to be it... the shop's been there since 1975, has never been owned by the Partleton family, has had a few owners who all kept the name, and is still selling papers today.

But Alf's daughter Heather Partleton in Australia reminded me that there had been a fire at the shop a couple of years back, which I had vaguely noted at the time, and - pretty much as an afterthought, when I had already finished this page - I checked the archives of the local newspaper:

I'm very sorry to end this page with such a horrifying story, and there may be a lesson to all of us in the cause of the fire.

But the Partleton name still remains into the 21st century. Newsagent shops are almost eternal, and the 'brand' name is well established and recognised by its customers, so it's likely to stay that way for a very long time:

Tom Peddie and Rosetta Edith Smith left no descendants. Rosetta Smith passed away in 1961. As mentioned by Joan Partleton in the video, in 1964, Tom Peddie, now aged 75, married Marguerite Eve, aged 67 (shaded blue in the tree) who had divorced her husband Frederick Partleton - Alfred's older brother, sort that one out in your head! Tom lived just one year more and died in 1965.

Alfred Partleton had two daughters, Anne and Heather. Anne now lives in New Zealand. Thanks here go to Heather Partleton, who has lived in Australia since the 1960's, for providing valuable information for this page.

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