A little while ago, I mentioned the unlikely presence of launderettes in Cambridge. You just don’t get them in the UK too much any more. They were a staple sight back when. Mind you, I can remember public wash-houses. Loads of people used those before the onset of hot running water and domestic washing machines. We had a washing machine (twin tub) when I was a child, and we were well swanky. Ideas above our station.
Anyway, something I haven’t seen in years I’ve seen three of in Cambridge. It’s weird, this is the City That Time Forgot, it really is. I’ve seen three Timpsons. Nobody transatlantic will have a sodding clue about these, and even my younger Brit readers may well be floundering.
The thing is, every High Street in England had a branch of Timpsons. The franchises were just there, sort of ineffably fixed. The role? Well, multitasking seemed to be the name of the game.
Need your shoes resoling? They’re the people. New heels on your shoes? Yep, they could do that. Heel clecks? Yes. Replace a worn eyelet on a shoe? Bring it on. Anything else? Need a new doorkey cutting? Yes, they could do that. What, you need a padlock? Oh yes. A bikelock? Yup, we got those. Some engraving on a sports trophy? Buuuuuuzzzzz. Bit of deburring and a polish, Bob’s your uncle at Timpsons. You could even get the trophy at Timpsons. EPNS, nothing too posh, but OK for a pub snooker knockout, or an angling competition, that sort of thing.
Seriously, they were as much of a High Street they were part of the scenery, a sort of handyman-where-you-need-them. If you had a lo-tech problem, a practical thing that needed doing, Timpsons was a damned good bet as a first port of call.
Then they sort of disappeared. Except in Cambridge, apparently, The Land That Time Forgot. Still thriving in Cambridge, Timpsons. And that pleases me more than it should.