Penny Bazaar

Fishmonger's in a 17th century shop


Before the Second World War number 28 Middle Row was the home of one of the most famous shops in town - Hooten's Penny Bazaar. Here, customers could buy tiny quantities of almost every kind of household item. Its owner, Mr Hooten, retired in 1936 and for a while the shop became the Countryside Library where books could be borrowed for tuppence (or 1p) per week.

Mr David Sewell then opened a fish shop in the premises. His business was still fondly remembered even in the 2020s by older Dunstablians. He arranged for fresh fish to be delivered every day from all over the coast, arriving at Dunstable railway station by 7.45 in the morning. He had a smoke house behind the shop in Back Street (later known as Ashton Street) where fresh haddock could be soaked in brine and dried. He later opened a popular fish and chip shop there. The fish shop closed in 1959.

The building dates back to at least the 17th century behind its modern facade. In early Victorian times until 1921, the building was a grocery shop run by various members of the Young family. Ann Young, before the days of family doctors, was a local source of medical advice and made her own simple medicines. Her shop had a very old frontage with small panes of glass and entered by two or three steps up from the pavement. After she died in 1921 the shop front was modernised and became the Penny Bazaar.

During the severe winter of 1947 the shop's chimney cracked, revealing a bricked-up cupboard. Inside was a long black dress which fell apart when exposed to the air. No-one knows why it was there.

Entrance to the shop
Sewell fishmonger's shop
The shop in the middle of a street photo.
The Young's shop in Middle Row
Group of people stood outside of a store with one in the doorway.
This is probably Ann Young outside her shop.

Text: John Buckledee of Dunstable and District Local History Society. ©
Design: David Turner.
Narration: Angela Goss of Dunstable Repertory Company.
Recording: David Hornsey.
Website developer: Joshua Buckledee.