Rimmers is a local legend in Fleetwood. A small corner shop on Blakiston Street where memories were forged in parched peas and homemade Vimto lollies.
But, as a ‘foreigner’ from ‘tother side o’t ‘ills, references to parched peas and Vimto lollies were lost on me. So in March 2014 Visit Fleetwood went off to investigate.
Sadly, Harry Anderson died on 18 January 2015, but the memory of his parched peas, Vimto lollies and warm smile will live forever.
Come and take a look into the world of Rimmers…
Where Visit Fleetwood’s Parched Peas investigations began…
Published on 22.3.14
I’d had an early start in Fleetwood and knew I’d have time to make my investigations before my stomach started calling me home for lunch. I’d 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 all these years, but to be fair I always got lost in Barnsley market too.
I’d driven past the shop hundreds of times on the corner of 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 that the shop is still there. Rimmers is known just about everywhere, it seems.
What are Parched Peas?
Apparently, parched peas are Maple Peas and have been sold at Rimmers for well over 40 years. They’re boiled in water, but not mushy (unless they’ve been cooked too long) then lightly salted. Even now, they’re still sold in large quantities to local pubs and clubs at the weekend.
If you want to make your own, you can buy Maple Peas at pet shops!
By now, customers were following me into the sweet shop. They were 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. Then right on cue a workman came in and asked for two Vimto lollies.
Homemade Vimto Lollies
I’d noticed the freezer that I was leaning on was full of homemade lollies, just like the ones I’d eaten when I was little. 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 other modern mass-made ones. I’d assumed that this is what everyone talked about, until I realised they were actually 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.
Plans for Rimmers
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.
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. It was they who began 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.
Recollections of Rimmers
After the above article had been published on Visit Fylde Coast, it had an amazing effect. With 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. For many years there have been two strengths of lolly, according to how strong the cordial mix is that goes in the lolly mould.
School day memories
“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 World’s 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. 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 memories carry on…
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.”
On Sunday 18 January 2015, we heard the sad news from 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. He’d fed generations of children and adults alike with the staples of parched peas and homemade lollies in various flavours. 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
Remembering a Local Treasure at Rimmers
Fleetwood Civic Society presented a plaque to celebrate the memory of Rimmer’s, and the fond place which it held in the hearts of generations of Fleetwood residents. A big thank you to Maureen Blair of Ravenswood Photography for these pictures.
On Friday 17 April 2015 people gathered at 11am at the shop on Blakiston Street for the unveiling of a brand new blue plaque. The Mayor of Wyre, Cllr Ron Shewan, performed the honours. The plaque reads:
“The Home of the Original Rimmer’s – Parched peas and vimto lollies well loved by generations of Fleetwood residents”
We’re sure that Harry would have been watching the mornings activities, and been very proud.
What Happened next to Rimmers?
Anderson’s shop, to give it its proper name, was put up for sale after Harry died. Although the Andersons were already thinking of retiring.
Hopefully a new owner will keep all these traditions going, and the recipe for the lollies is being sold with the shop.
Do you know what’s happened now to Rimmers? Please get in touch and let us know. Email jane@theRabbitPatch.co.uk
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