Joan Arliss

JOAN Arliss died at home in Louth on March 18, aged 87.

Born in 1923 Joan was the second youngest child of Alice and Albert Arliss, and had five brothers and six sisters.

She was the last survivor of the family and her recent death was 103 years after the birth of her eldest sister in 1908. She often stated she could not believe how old she was, having been born a sickly child and baptised at home because she was not expected to survive.

At an early age her family moved to Brackenborough Road, Louth, where she would spend most of her life, first with her parents and brothers and sisters and then with eldest sister Phyllis.

Her father was a cabinet maker and undertaker with Eve and Ranshaw and died when she was just seven years old.

She could recall so many memories of growing up in the depression and how, with a large family, the strict control of their mother kept things together and they survived better than many.

Her memory was so good that only recently she was able to recall every family between their home and the railway in Keddington Road and for a distance in the other direction – reciting who they were, how many children they had and their ages at the time she was growing up in the Thirties.

Joan started work around the beginning of the Second World War as a shop assistant for Melias, a chain of grocers with a shop near to the Fish Shambles in Louth, a career that was never to change.

Hours, she recalled, were long; on Fridays when the orders had to be got ready there was no break from lunchtime until finishing at 9pm or later. One night when she left, Stampers Clock read 10.30pm. For a short while during the war, whilst still quite young, she was manager for Melias in Immingham.

About 1946 Joan moved to work for another grocer, Bill Platt in Little Eastgate (now Wrights), a job she would retain for the rest of her career. In fact the shop was very much remembered as Bill Platt and Miss Arliss.

In her days at the shop she was the one who bagged up the sugar into the dark blue 2lb bags and cut and wrapped the butter into half-pound packs. Back in 1982 the shop was visited by a London Photographer – John Londei. He was touring the country visiting vanishing grocers shops in Britain.

In 2007 Londei published a book entitled Shutting Up Shop with a photograph on the front cover of Joan and Bill Platt and a story about the shop, which had remained unchanged since Bill took over in the mid-1920s.

This photograph was to appear, not only in local newspapers, but in national newspapers all over the country – so Joan got her few minutes of fame!

Never having been a driver Joan travelled everywhere she could on her bike. It was not unusual for her to cycle to the coast, even well into her middle age, and in her younger days she spent much of her time travelling to and from Grimoldby and Muckton to see friends.

She had 23 nephews and nieces and nearly the same number of great-nephews and nieces and great-great-nephews and nieces, and to the delight of them all she always had some sweets in her pocket for them. She was also a great knitter, so none were ever short of jumpers, mittens, scarves etc.

Not having a family of her own, Joan’s greatest love in life was children and in 1983 when she retired she became ‘surrograte grandma’ to the young family of her employer’s nephew, something which brought her immense joy in her later years.

She had the pleasure of watching them all grow up and become settled with their partners and, to her great delight, see the eldest married with a baby of her own earlier this year, something she did not expect to live to see. This family was the family she never had.

People and especially children were Joan’s life. Out of a family of seven sisters she was the one who fulfilled the role of ‘auntie’ most of all.