Time travel with Community Foods’ 55p split peas at the Coop

I have just bought 500g of yellow split peas at the Coop for 55p, although the green lentils had all gone (the type I like – and, I guess, the type most other people like too).

This sent me on a search to other food shops in Hebden, where I found green lentils at £2.50, so decided to wait until the Coop puts another batch of £1.29 green lentils on its shelves.

The Coop yellow split peas were in a packet that said Community since 1971.

In my youth – a long, long time ago in 1974 – I lived round the corner from Community Foods which was on Prince of Wales Crescent in Kentish Town.

A quick online search showed that Community Foods of the 55p yellow split peas in the Coop is the same Community Foods that started life in a tatty squat shop round the back from my even more battered squat at 93 Prince of Wales Road.

Community Foods on Prince of Wales Crescent was where I learned how to mix muesli, when I helped out as a volunteer a few times, and where we bought all our staple foods (but not fruit and veggies, which we bought wholesale from Covent Garden as members of a food coop).

So, some things survive and flourish, despite the odds. (Prince of Wales Crescent was bulldozed out of existence, as I found out in one dizzying moment when I got off the bus after years away from Kentish Town and saw the entire street had disappeared under a new housing estate.)

The photos below are by Jeremy Ross and published in the Kentishtowner. UCV Plain Speaker is re-publishing them here with the Kentishtowner’s permission.

Community Foods was just beyond the post box on left hand side of the Crescent. (Photo:Jeremy Ross)

Prince of Wales Crescent about to be demolished (Photo:Jeremy Ross)

I’m pleased that the Coop buyers, whoever they are, are wise to Community Foods and their cheap, nutritious pulses.

Here are photos of the Women’s Itinerant Hobos Union squat at 158 Grafton Road, which we started up after Camden Council evicted the squats on Prince of Wales Road. Sisters of the Road and friends are enjoying the aftermath of a meal that almost certainly included items from Community Foods. The bread, for example.

158 Grafton Road was also briefly the home of Gingerbread, another useful survivor from the Kentish Town squat scene. Gingerbread was set up by Tessa Fothergill.

Community Foods

10 thoughts on “Time travel with Community Foods’ 55p split peas at the Coop

  1. Hello, I was just writing a rice and veg recipe for my cooking blog and wanted to check something about Community supplies. We lived on Castle Road, Savernake Road, Derby Lodge: all part of the SCH scheme. I used to shop around Inverness Street and Community Supplies. I remember queuing to be served in the tiny store front and someone not unlike Bob Flowerdew behind the counter scolding me for buying too much granola and not enough porridge. I went to India for the winter and when I got back the Crescent had gone and Community resited (Euston). A wonderful time, Amanda

  2. I’m writing an article on West Kentish Town and the Prince of Wales Crescent in the early to mid 70’s and would love to talk to anyone that knew about the area at that time or lived there!

  3. So happy to stumble across this post, brought back some good memories from the past, I started Community Supplies (latter renamed Foods) in Prince of Wales Crescent back in 1971, would love to hear from anyone from that time. John Law social username johnlaw1000

    • hi, i just came across this site. i lived there with my baby daughter, at number 41, just opposite community supplies, for fifteen months; and continued to visit friends there until the wrecking ball arrived.
      i learnt so much from the place, from how to survive in an alien world to my first politics. does anyone remember that graffiti on the railway bridge at kentish town? “don’t vote, the government will get in anyway”
      hi to anyone else out there who has fond memories of the place.

    • Hi John! Hope you get this post. I started ‘Down to Earth – Community Supplies (wholefoids) back in 1974 in Nottingham. I’m now into my seventies living in north London. I have plans for a small residential development along passivhaus lines in Wiid Green. Where are you now? Regatfs Trevor

  4. I worked in the community shop in 1973/4 and bought my first ever seaweed from there. Actually I was paid in food so the seaweed was part of my wages. it was a brilliant shop.
    Catweazle had had a restaurant in the crescent, opposite the shop and made seaweed pies to sell in the shop. Friends of the Earth also had their meetings in that building. I was squatting round the corner in Prince Of Wales Road in several houses, including one where a circus called the Woolly Mammoths also lived.
    When the house broke up I moved away from the area.
    It is very sad that the crescent was knocked down, it was really lovely.

  5. I’ve fond memories of Community Foods too – they were the principle supplier to a worker co-op I was a member of for several years: we used to hire a 7.5 tonne truck every other friday and drive down to rummage their warehouse for the next fortnights stock;
    we were always in a rush to get round everything and load the truck up by 12 as they used to shut down for lunch so they could all share a meal together – and anyone ‘accidentally’ locked in with them got to share in it as well 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.