He was certainly a character and many people still have strong opinions about him, so much so we called a halt to any further discussion regarding him. Living immediately behind the shops meant he was a permanent fixture in and around the town, usually with an ever changing entourage of teenage girls. Saint or sinner he was a man of his time ...and I never did get back the tow rope he borrowed from me.See, again, Millets. Another one which turned into a camping shop, as most surplus places seem to have done. We had a few places down our way, although I never saw any Irvins for sale. Now all they sell is camping odds and sods and the occasional horrible MA-1 copy.
Does anyone remember Laurence Corner, off the Euston Road? I used to buy genuine British surplus stuff there in the 60s and 70s before they went a bit "camping and outdoor shop". They had a line where they took genuine German WW2 leather overcoat, of the sort you could buy in the Sixties for pin money in the Amsterdam flea market, cut them off at the waist and relined them with sheepskin to make fake flying jackets.
There was also an excellent surplus store by the bridge in Lowestoft, where we used to buy tank aerials to turn into spinning rods. I also had a pair of RN sailor's bell-bottoms, complete with fall-front, from there. A girl I knew who was handy with a needle took them in between the waist and knee for a more trendy Swinging Sixties look, suitable for an art student.
Then there were demob suits from the old clothes shops, which were low grade clothing when dished out. I still have some bits, including genuine Utility shirts, and the quality is more Saville Row than Primark.
The stuff was everywhere, and I can't recall any aspect of day to day life between about 1950-1980 which didn't involve using something surplus, and not just clothing. I'm still using the WW2 webbing small packs from the CCF that somehow left school with me, along with several tins of Pickerings blanco.
I too bought various stuff from the pages of E&M, especially leather jackets, but it always seemed a bit of a gamble; either "pups" or "pearls". The Trade Descriptions Act had no place there, for sure.Back in the 60's and early 70's the E&M was a must. Some of the content was plain weird and I could not manage the small columns without my specs now! I bought stacks of gear via it's pages. There was nothing else like it. The vehicle columns were brilliant just a two line ad would have me scurrying off to view this or that wreck lol.
I saw a lot of WWII German stuff floating around in Chile and Argentina, and a high proportion of SS stuff unsurprisingly.Good story Smithy, can just imagine some old party member/s and their cohorts being tooled up enough to deter or hold off those that came a lookin'!