Central Cycle and Auto Stores goes back to the late 1940s - though there was a cycle shop on the site from 1922 when it was run by Alfred Mungham. The cycle/moped/car store was set up by the Talbot family who ran it until the end of 2010. They also lived in the flat above the shop.
What is now the middle section of the shop started as a pair of cottages - the steps up to the middle section raise the floor over basements containing the remains of 19th century cooking ranges. The steps go to arches which were created out of windows at the front of the cottages with the arches reflecting the local fashion on incorporating arches into buildings to remind people of the arches of the Crystal Palace itself.
The front part of the shop was added when the building was converted to retail in the mid 1800s. The front of the shop is built on the front gardens of the cottages. The shop was originally a dairy - as shown on the postcard below. Beryl D Cheeseman's book 'Upper Norwood Triangle Memories' shows an advert for the dairy which says that the dairy was not owned by a company, but by Mr Thomas D Taylor who would be pleased to show clients over the dairy premises and the cow sheds adjoining!
Oddly, the address is given at this date as 3 and 5 Central Hill rather than the modern numbering of 5 and 7. This probably reflects a re-numbering of buildings in Central Hill at the beginning of the 20th Century rather than the fact that the buildings have been split and joined at various times in their history.
The photo below was taken from 'Norwood Past' by John Coulter and shows a delivery cart from the dairy delivering outside 55 Central Hill.
The frontage along Central Hill may at one time have had an internal colonade. When we took down the wall cladding in number 5 (former TeleTech TV repair shop), we found some nice tiles covering up an archway that went through to number 3. There is a similar archway between 7 and 9.
The dairy became a cycle shop some time in the 1920s. We know that the cycle shop was operated just prior to the Talbot take over by A.W. Mungham but do not know if it was run by anyone else before that.
When the Talbots took over, part of the business included radio and TV repairs. This was carried out with a Mr Vic Ryan. At some time in the 1950s the business of the bike shop was split from the radio/tv shop. We understand that the electronics business became Tele-tech in 1952 and this is probably when the premises were split in two.
This split was done fairly crudely as the wall was built on top of the floor tiles in the shop and when the wall was removed, the floor was still intact.
The picture below is a bit out of focus unfortunately, but it shows the distinctive frontage of Central Cycles. The photo is dated by Beryl Cheeseman as the late 1940s to the time of the transition from Mungham to Talbot ownership of the shop. The window did not change in the next 60 years and the new owners have retained features (though the ads and brands are different).
HJ Talbot (known as John or Jack) had previously been an engineer and a domestic chauffer was born on 25th June 1899. He was married to Ethel Maud Andrews in December 1926 when she was 32 (around 5 years older than John having been born in December of 1894). Ethel had been a housekeeper in Beckenham prior to her marriage and the two of them may have met through their work as domestic staff. Daughter Margaret was born in 1928 and son Geoff a couple of years later.
After the Talbot business split (electronics/cycle and motor) Tele-tech continued independently for many years. In addition to sales and repairs of electronic equipment, Mr Ryan carried out photo processing. We understand that these photos included 'glamour' shots of aspiring young models - most of whom would now be pensioners. Leo Dimuro and wife Anne joined and eventually bought out Mr Ryan in the Tele-tech business. Tele-tech finally closed in 2006 - owners Leo and Anne Dimuro shown below.
I think this picture is probably of Margaret and Geoff in the late 1940's or early 1950s - though there is no label on it. You can see that the shop was heavily branded for 'Norman Bicycles' a brand which is long gone though we are pleased to have a promotional sign for them. (This heavy advertising would no longer be permitted in the Crystal Palace conservation area). There is a wonderful film about a bicycle being made which pre-dates this photo by a couple of years - we know that the Talbots sold the Rudge bicycles made in the film.
Del Oldham has given permission for the use of this 1950s photo of a Central Cycles float -we are not sure of its date.
Later when the business split with the radio side of the business (in 5) becoming independent of the cycle/car maintenance side and moving to concentrate on the new technology of television. When the old shop closed down, you could still find evidence of the fact that the two shops were all one concern with various doorways blocked off in odd places. Some of these have now been opened up again - life sometimes goes in circles!
The photo shown above was taken on 22nd April 1990 at the time that there was a planning application in - possibly related to what became a launderette with a mobile phone mast in the yard.
To the rear of the shop (number 7) is a very large covered yard. This has been used as a workshop and storage area - when the old shop closed it contained a substantial quantity of material (aka 'junk' or 'things that may come in useful one day'). There are some relics of the old dairy in the yard to the rear of the number 5 (though you need to use your imagination to recognise them as such).
The name of Central Cycle and Auto Stores lives on on this website and in the memories of many locals in Crystal Palace - but the shop name has been superceded by Blue Door Bicycles... the history continues even if the name has changed. Shown below are David Hibbs and Dave Barfield who have, with lots of help, revived the old shop and are now running it.
For the 're-born' Central Cycles shop look at our other website: Bluedoorbicycles.com.