Sadly I have no pictures of Bob and Dorris Mann but they were a devoted couple with no children and lived in Woburn Avenue behind the shop, Bob was the key sales person in the shop, he was a keen photographer with his own dark room, he made model Gipsy caravans, not from kits but by cutting up oak doors, when he died Dorris invited me in to help with his models in the spare room and to my great supprise one wall of the room was a large glass enclosed cabinet containing a model of Croydon airport, all the planes, runways, buildings, vehicles and human fugures, it was breathtaking
My father had an alsatian called Rex, his father would not allow him in the house so he lived in the shop, later in life he lost the use of his back legs so my father made a two wheeled trolley straped to his back so he could get around.
Peter Lay joined when he laft school and later on persuaded my father to rent out TV’s, by 1980 we over 900 TV’s and Video recorders out on rental. I joined the company in 1978 after completing an apprentaship in Radio and TV servicing then another year with Radio Rentals, you could say I was head hunted, I had no intention of joining my father but Purley Radio was a bit of a one trick pony, Peter had extensive knowledge of all thing Philips, he had family and friends working in Purley Way and although clever at most things technilogy was passing him by. I had a good knowledge of a wide range of products and manufacturers and had even tacken two week long courses on Video recorders, something Purley radio was scared stiff of. So I was an engineer, then a share holder, then service manager, then sole owner.
From 1980 we had many breakins and attempted breakins, the first I remember would be theives smashed through the lower blue window panel seen above, the gap was too small to steal anything, we filled it with bricks and concrete rubble. We had a man use the loo one day and that evening we could not set the alarm, he had cut the wires in the toilet. Another time (above) was a ram raid, passers by scared them off. The most bizar was the time we noticed a big widescreen TV missing out of the window display, a lady in the shop said two men in white coats got out of a van, walked in and picked up the TV, put it in the van and drove off. To stop ram raids we put concrete pilars in the pavement, we had compliants from the council stating that blind and parcialy sighted pedestrians were restricted. We told them it was not a pavement but private property which it was, we did not hear from them again and consiquently never had another ram raid.
The 90’s saw us move into White goods and the internet then came the slow but painful downturn. The shop had been very busy due to the fact it had a large main post office next door and hundreds passed each day, then it moved to Brighton Road but our saviour was the new Sainsburys, the leasure centre and car park. Next Tesco’s arrived and anyone who knows anything about Purley knows what happened next to the high street. Closed in 2008