Hazel Freeman talks about the origins of the family business
Resource Type: Audio | Posted on 18th July 2011 by Liam Physick
Hazel Freeman recounts her early life, and the origins of the family business: how her great-great-grandfather, a well digger, broke his leg and so set up a grocer’s shop: his son (Hazel’s great-grandfather), wanting independence, bought premises in Wavertree Road to set up Freeman’s - she has made a “rogue’s gallery” of owners of the firm.
Interviewee: Hazel Freeman
Interviewee Gender: Female
Date of Interview: 19th February 2011
Jenny: Where were you born?
Hazel: I was born in London, in Hampstead.
Jenny: OK, and do you mind telling us what the earliest memories you’ve got of Edge Hill are?
Hazel: Oh, gosh, that’s difficult . . . the, I’ve got early memories of Wavertree, and they would be back to . . . when I was probably about 10 . . . it was about 57, 58 . . .
Jenny: Oh, yeah.
Hazel: . . . so I can remember that.
Jenny: So did you move to Wavertree from London?
Hazel: Yeah, we moved from London to Willesden, and from Willesden to Upton, and from Upton to West Kirby . . .
Jenny: Oh, right.
Hazel: . . . so we’ve been all around the place.
Jenny: Yeah. So about 10 or 11, was Freemans shop open by then?
Hazel: Yes, the Freemans shop was open, my grandfather opened it, or my great-grandfather. It’s been . . . you see, the whole thing started because my great-great-grandfather was a well digger . . .
Hazel: And he fell down a well, and he broke his leg. Because he broke his leg, he couldn’t be a well digger . . .
Jenny: Oh, yeah.
Hazel: . . . so to feed his family – he was down – he had to do something else, so in his front room – because in those days they had a front room and a kitchen, didn’t they? – in his front room, he opened a tiny grocer’s shop . . .
Jenny: Oh, right. (laughs)
Hazel: . . . and that started to grow, and then his son didn’t want to work with him, so he went training to somebody else, and that’s actually how it all started.
Jenny: In the front room of your great-grandfather’s (sic) house! (laughs)
Hazel: Who was a well digger!
Jenny: So, what happened, then, did your father then take over?
Hazel: Turn it off a minute, I’ll tell you exactly what happened, if you’re really interested, because I wrote it all down! I made . . .
Jenny: Yeah, this is really interesting.
Hazel: . . . I made a rogues’ gallery, you see, and then I can’t actually tell you everything you have . . . are you really interested or not?
Jenny: Yes, yeah.
Hazel: You’re funny! (Jenny laughs)
Jenny: No, because it’s part of Edge Hill’s history as well, like.
Hazel: You see, I think I’ve got it here! Oh, I think I’ve got it here – if I haven’t, it’s really bad luck . . . but I should.
Jenny: So, this is, this book is your family history?
Hazel: Well I, I did it because I got fed up with people asking me so many frigging questions! (Jenny laughs) You see . . . (long pause) but I haven’t gone back, I’ve got much further . . . my great-grandfather, he was called Clement, and he was one of 13 children (Jenny sounds astounded) and then, in 1871, there was a census to say he had left school, and was assisting his father in this grocery shop . . .
Hazel: . . . in Malden, it was his father who was the well digger, and around 14 or 15, he became apprenticed to a draper in a place called Braintree, the area Braintree . . .
Hazel: then in early 1892, he bought the Wavertree Road premises.
Jenny: Ah . . .
Hazel: You see, so it’s been going a long time, it must have been 1892, very rural, mustn’t it, from the pictures? And that was the beginning of Freeman’s, and then . . .
Jenny: Well, 1892 was after Edge Hill station had been opened . . .
Jenny: . . . so it was probably a very booming area.
Hazel: Oh, (indecipherable) right, it probably was, you see, so those pictures are much earlier . . . I’ve given him a lot of (indecipherable – both laugh), and then, that’s how it started.
Categorised under: Shops & Shopping