As a ‘foreigner’ from ‘tother side o’t ‘ills, references to parched peas and Vimto lollies were lost on me.
In the end I’d decided I’d had enough, and in March 2014 I turned detective and went off to find out what my new fellow Fleetwood friends were talking about!
Remembering a Local Treasure
Fleetwood Civic Society have presented a plaque today to celebrate the memory of Rimmer’s, and the fond place which it held in the hearts of generations of Fleetwood residents.
On Friday 17 April, at 11am people gathered at the shop on Blakiston Street for the unveiling of a brand new blue plaque by the Mayor of Wyre, Cllr Ron Shewan, which reads:
“The Home of the Original Rimmer’s – Parched peas and vimto lollies well loved by generations of Fleetwood residents”
I’m sure that Harry will have been watching this mornings activities, and I’m sure he would have been very proud.
L-R: Mayoress of Wyre, Margaret Daniels from Fleetwood Civic Society, Mrs Elizabeth Anderson, Mayor of Wyre, Cllr Ron Shewan.
See the new blue plaque, just above the shop sign
Anderson’s shop, to give it its proper name, is up for sale now – although they were already thinking of retiring before he died at the beginning of the year. Hopefully a new owner will keep all these traditions going, and the recipe for the lollies is being sold with the shop.
A big thank you to Maureen Blair of Ravenswood Photography for these pictures.
Sad News (19.1.15)
On Sunday 18 January 2015, we heard the sad news on the Fleetwood’s Past Facebook page that Harry Anderson, the much loved owner of ‘Rimmers’ in Fleetwood, had died.
He’d not been well for some time and had recently had an operation before passing away in the early hours.
Harry was such a well loved character, who’d fed generations of children and adults alike with the staples of parched peas and homemade lollies in various flavours – and he’ll be hugely missed by everyone.
I didn’t know him, I only met him once, but even in a few short minutes it was obvious what a genuinely nice bloke he was. Gut instincts aren’t often wrong.
RIP Harry, sleep well x
Recollections of Rimmers (1.4.14)
Last week, I published this article below which was lead piece on the weekly email newsletter, and what an effect it had, having people reminiscing and talking to each other (and to me!) about parched peas all week!
Richard Gillingham, local historian and trustee at Fleetwood Museum wrote “Glad you enjoyed the Rimmers Experience!
“Harry is being very modest. The shop has been in existence for well over 60 years to my personal knowledge – having been a patron since my infant school days over sixty years ago. I was certainly buying parched peas there 57 years ago and soon acquired the taste!
“I first bought peas in a triangular bag costing a penny or tuppence. Rimmers lollies are just as famous. They are made in the same moulds as 57 years ago although the range of flavours has been reduced. They used to be 1d and 2d in old pre-decimal money! I have seen men come from the pubs and clubs on Sunday afternoons- sometimes slightly inebriated – and take perhaps fifty lollies wrapped in newspaper home to their children!
“The famous lolly flavour has always been Vimto and there have for many years been two strengths of lolly according to how strong the cordial mix is that goes in the lolly mould.
“Another early recollection from primary school days was getting a Vimto Book from Rimmers. The company making the cordial published a small A6 booklet containing useful information for school pupils eg Worlds longest rivers, populations of the Worlds largest cities plus weights and measures to use in Maths. Occasionally you still see them on ebay.
“My own children and now grandson have grown up with the Rimmer’s legend. The shop has been loved and cherished by generations of children and its fame has spread to all corners of the globe, through ex Fleetwood residents who have emigrated.
“Former schoolmates from Fleetwood Grammar School – from all over the World – come to find me at the Museum and many say they are going on to Rimmers. Just one of the unique experiences making Fleetwood the very special place that it is!
“The shop was much, much busier in the past, as originally there were 3 local schools in the immediate vicinity. The community centre across the road was originally Milton Street School and fifty yards up the street was Blakiston Street Infants, on the site where the play area is now. The shop is also on the route to St. Mary’s RC School higher up Blakiston St. – which until 1960 had a secondary department.
“I walked up and down Blakiston St. to and from school from the age of four until I was nineteen. Happy days!”
The staff at Thornton Library emailed to say that nothing for a long time had caused so much discussion as the parched peas story this week!
Over on Facebook, happy memories flowed in conversation, with William saying “My wife craved Rimmers lollies so much when she was pregnant, that Harry actually imposed a limit on how many I could have in one go. Had to go back every other day. Top bloke, top shop.”
Sharon’s one of the ex-pats that Richard mentioned, although she lives in Runcorn not Australia! She told us “when I get to Fleetwood I call in for parched peas and strawberry milk ice lollies.”
Joseph remembers “when I was young we lived around the corner from Rimmers and I went to Chaucer School, so used to go there as a treat sometimes for ice lollies. Parched Peas, however, I always considered an East Lancashire thing, as it is only from my family over there that I can ever remember them being served.”
Last word this time goes to Janet who ends with “I went to Fleetwood Grammar, we always went to Rimmers for vimto lollies and parched peas.”
Where my parched peas investigations started… (22.3.14)
I’d had an early start in Fleetwood and knew I would have time to make my investigations before my stomach started calling me home for lunch, so I prepped myself ready and looked up the exact location on Google maps before I went out.
‘Rimmers’ as a name above a shop doorway doesn’t actually exist, although still a trading name, the shop in question is now called H&E Anderson. But you can’t hide much in the corners of the giant search engine, so having pinpointed my exact location I made sure I knew how to find it. I still find Fleetwood confusing even after spending lots of time there, but to be fair I always got lost in Barnsley market too.
I’d driven past the shop hundreds of times in it’s corner spot on Blakiston and North Albion Street, and recognised it straight away. I stopped outside to see ‘Keep Calm, Rimmers still sell Parched Peas’ in the window so I knew I was in the right place!
I don’t know what Mrs Anderson must have thought when this odd woman with a Yorkshire accent blew into the shop asking all about parched peas. To give her credit she wasn’t fazed and said it had happened many times before. People who have moved away from the area frequently come back to have their photo taken and check to make sure that the shop is still there, and they are known just about everywhere it seems.
Apparently, parched peas are Maple Peas and have been sold at Rimmers for well over 40 years. They are boiled in water, not mushy unless they have been cooked too long, and even now, still sold to the local pubs and clubs at the weekend in large quantities.
By now, customers were following me into the sweet shop, buying kids mixes, boiled sweets and toffees all loose from the jars that line the walls in their tempting colours and flavours. I told Mr and Mrs Anderson that they were famous and continually talked about on Facebook – all of which they had missed – but it was borne out by the customers who came in, and then right on cue a workman came in and asked for two Vimto lollies.
I’d noticed the freezer that I was leaning on was full of homemade lollies like I’d had when I was little, and I was eyeing up what I’d worked out were banana ones. All at once the penny dropped with a bang – the browny/purple ones in the top box were THE famous Vimto lollies!
I’m sure I’ve seen Walls Vimto lollies, prepacked in a plastic wrapper like all the others, and I’d assumed that this is what they were all talking about, until I realised they were homemade ones! Much like the parched peas, these homemade lollies have been made at Rimmers for donkeys years, using the same recipe and only changing ingredients when they were no longer available.
As a firm believer that we should all support our local shops, particularly small independents like this one, I have to say I was thrilled to find Rimmers and to discover that part of Fleetwoods heritage was still alive and well.
When the Andersons get to retirement age they would like to sell the shop as a going concern and let someone else take over the mantle of parched peas and Vimto lollies, so if you think you’ve got it in you, you might like to start saving up now, and get your business plan ready…
And the name Rimmers? According to a much later email from ‘Dave’ in 2016, the shop was owned by Mr and Mrs Rimmer during the 50’s and 60’s and they started making the original vimto lollies and parched peas during this period. They retired to Carr Road in the early 70’s.
Dave added “During the early 70’s I worked for an insurance company and I called at Mrs Rimmers house. She was a lovely lady, Victorian in appearance, quite small, with grey hair tied back in a bun. Mr Rimmer was taller than she was with thick white hair and thick rimmed glasses. They were both lovely people.”
Rimmers. A Fleetwood local treasure.