HERE’S a story to raise a smile in these very difficult times. Back in the 1930s there was a little cycle shop in the St John’s district of Worcester run by a colourful local character by the name of Mr Perry. No Christian name, although the board above the premises seems to carry the initial H.

When the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII, who abdicated for the love of Mrs Simpson) visited the city in 1932 to officially open the reconstructed Worcester Bridge and the revamped Cripplegate Park, Mr Perry became so excited he fired a shotgun into the air in celebration.

Security was as keen then as now and police quickly swooped on the gun-toting Perry and carted him off to prison. However, it appears the Prince, who was an enormously popular figure before he became King, got to hear of Perry’s act of over-enthusiasm and asked the police to let him off lightly. It appears they did just that, because no trace can be found of any court appearance by Perry, which would seem to indicate he was just cautioned for his exuberance and not charged.

Another tale about the maverick Perry revolves around a Penny Farthing cycle he had for sale. An American staying in Weston-super-Mare contacted Perry to say he would like to see the bike, so the shop owner jumped on the machine and rode it 80 miles down to the seaside town.

The American asked Perry how much he was asking for the cycle and was told a price, but made a lower offer. Assuming having come all that way the seller would not want to go home empty handed. He was wrong. Perry refused to do a deal and promptly got back on the Penny Farthing and rode it straight back to Worcester.

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St John’s has always had its fair share of characters and a quick sift through the files has brought some from more recent times. For more than 50 years, until he retired in 1994, Horace Perks ran his pot pourri of a corner shop at 71, St John’s. It stood on the junction where Bransford Road comes into St John’s, opposite the old cinema site. It was an “Open All Hours” type of business. When he packed up Horace was still selling pet food by the scoop and the shop had old fashioned wooden shelves and a good old fashioned smell. A combination of dry animal food, garden fertilizer and cardboard boxes.

Another long time operator in St John’s was Les Jacson-Jones, who ran the Bush Inn with his wife Helen for 33 years before leaving in 1992. Although the parting with the pub’s owners Enterprise Inns was not particularly amicable. The Bush had been the centre of the city emerging rock ’n’ roll scene in the 1950s and even boasted its own band The Bush Boys.

Then there was Cordles, a grocery shop which stood opposite HW Perks and closed in 1992. Records showed a grocery business had been run from the quaint and narrow building ever since the late 18th century.