Richard Rapahel (nee Zubrasky), (©Laurence Raphael, grandson)
Eight years ago, I added a short post about Raphael Zubrasky, aka Raphael Zubrisky, Richard Dubrask and changed by deed poll to Richard Raphael in 1917. This Russian man of many names ran a cigarette and cigar shop next the The Salisbury at 1 Grand Parade. I hadn't given him much thought over the ensuing years but he'd stuck in my mind for some reason. A couple of weeks ago in a conversation over a drink in The Salisbury, I mentioned him. That led to my raking over the coals and reaching out via Ancestry to a descendant of Zubrasky's, one Terry Myerson. I was delighted to receive a reply from Terry and subsequently Raphael's grandson, Larry Raphael, for which I am most grateful. Terry included some photos and both he and Larry have filled in a few gaps and privided some more personal details.
Raphael Zubrasky ran the tobacconists at 1 Grand Parade for 40 years. This means that, as of the time of writing, his tenure of the shop lasted for a third of its life, making it one of the longest retailer tenures in Harringay's history. For my money, Raphael's story is worth telling on that basis alone, a kind of an overdue doff of the cap if you like. But Raphael's story is more than just the tale of his time in Harringay, it's also one about the fate of one family, the members of which were just four out of the estimated two-and-a-half million jews who fled persecution in Eastern Europe in the three decades after 1881.
Raphael was born into a Jewish family near Kiev in 1889. At the time, the city was part of the Russian empire and later Zubrasky was to describe himself as Russian. Given his Jewish background, I imagine this was a description of the nationality into which he was born, rather than a statement of affiliation. He lived with his father Morris, mother Rachael and younger brother Hyman. Late nineteenth century Russia was not a friendly place for Jews. From about 1881, large-scale, targeted, and repeated anti-Jewish rioting (the pogroms) made most of Russia a very inhospitable place for the Jewish community.
The family arrived in England shortly after the turn of the century, with Raphael not yet in his teens. The earliest that I've been able to track them down in Britain is in 1902, when Morris was a 'barrow lender' based in Gray Street, just off the Commercial Road. (Now long gone and built over in the 1960s). This was at the edge of the turn-of the Century Jewish East End. A few hundred feet away was the Philpot Street Great Synagogue.
In 1906, the family moved just round the corner, and set up a chandler's shop at 17 Bedford Street (now Cavell Street) on the corner of Varden Street.
Kelly's Directory, 1906
The building still stands to this day.
17 Cavell Street (formerly Bedford Street), E1 (Google Maps)
After three years, the business changed to Raphael Brothers Tobacconists. By this point, Raphael would have been 20 and his brother, perhaps a year younger.
In June 1912, Raphael purchased a 14-year lease for a premises at 1 Grand Parade, Harringay for £725. It had been run by Charlie Brandon and, so his grandson tells me, he chose to keep the name since it was well-established and he worried that a name change would damage the business. The premises was split between a front half and a back half. Raphael occupied the front part and we know that the other lessee was an estate agent - in fact from 1908 to 1911, it was where John C Hill, the builder of Grand Parade, had his local sales office.
In November of 1912, Raphael married Lilly (Leah Ocker) and moved into the first floor flat above the shop.* Four years later, Lilly became pregnant with their first child, Irene and before the end of the war, had given birth to both Irene and their second child, Harold.
Whilst growing his family, Raphael was also busy with work. Half-way through the war, after his younger brother Hyman joined the army, Raphael started running what he described his brother's business. Based at 9-11 Broadway in Westminster, contemporary post office directories listed the premises as A Lewis & Co Cigarette Manufacturers.
9 - 11 Broadway, now occupied by Dolphins Chemists (Google Maps)
Cigarette cards from A. Lewis & Co, date unknown. (Author's collection)
Raphael was never to join his brother in the trenches. In 1917, he appealed against military service on a number of grounds, including that he had a job in Hammersmith, working 36 hours a week for Waring & Gillow assisting in the manufacture of aeroplanes. (It wasn't unusual for furniture manufacturers to make aeroplane parts during the war.) It was to be this role that was to spare him going to the front line (though I'm told that it wasn't strictly speaking true).
Whilst hard during the war, Raphael also found the time to consolidate his new British identity. In 1916 he was naturalised as a British Citizen and the following year he changed his name by deed-poll from Raphael Zubrasky to Richard Raphael. His grandson tells me that, brother Hyman followed suit and changed also his surname name to Raphael.
By 1925 Richard (I'm using his newly chosen name now) and Lilly had given up the flat above 1 Grand Parade and moved down the road to just behind where Courtney & Pope had been making aeroplane parts during the war. For two years they lived with Jack Rosenthal at 45 Woodberry Grove. In 1929, the couple moved further up the road to number 71 where they lived in the house of Charles Raphael. In 1937, they moved again to the newly-built Marlborough House, on the corner of Green Lanes and Woodberry Down. (For more about Marlborough House, see my comments here).
The Raphaels c1930. (©Laurence Raphael, grandson)
1 Grand Parade (far right) c1920. Beyond tha Coliseum, Salisbury Promenade had not yet been built (1926).
Grand Parade c1927. The Brandon name can be seen on the shopfront.
At some point, his grandson writes, Richard bought the freehold to the entire building, rented out the flats and in 1961, some years after the dentist's fell out of use, converted the shop at the back to a barber's business. Apparently, Richard also invested in property elsewhere, buyings some houses in Harringay and a well-appointed flat in Westcliff.
By 1938, son Harold appears in the Tottenham electoral register as running a ahop at 391 Green Lanes (now Kinas Estate Agents). In the 1939 register, he was described as 'Tobacconist - Manager'. His listing then disappears because, much to the displeasure of his father, he enlisted for the army and served for seven years. In 1942, he married his sister's friend, Rose Cohen and five years later, they were recorded at 31 Woodside Road, Wood Green. From 1948 - 56, they were living at 102 Pasteur Gardens N18. In 1961, he pops up at 20 Station Parade (now 329 Muswell Hill Broadway). Previously, it had been a tobacconist run as W.A. Rushworth). Finally from 1962, they were at 1 The Drive in Barnet.
Harold died in 1972.
Richard carried on running the Harringay shop and living with Lilly at Manor House, until the early 1950s. The shop was last listed in the London phone directory in 1952. Its disappearance after that date may suggest that Richard intentionally retired exactly 40 years after he first took on the business.
London Phone Directory 1952
In 1956 Richard died, leaving £38,500 to Lily, a tidy sum in those days.
In 1953, Harold took on the shop and ran it as a tobacconist until 1963. The fmailuy then migrated to California. He rented out the shop, but sold his residential properties. Frustrated with rent controls, he returned a few years later and sold the shop too.
London Phone Directory 1953
Richard also ran a tobacco kiosk at the Coliseum which was open only in the mornings and late afternoons, apparently to catch commuter traffic. Directories seem to have listed is under the name Raphael Brandon.
1948 Post Office Directory
The shop in 1958, just making it into a photo of the Salisbury, taken by the brewery.
The shop in the premises at the back of the shop had become Stephanou's barbers by the end of the last century (apologies, I'm not sure when it was set up). I took some photos of what had become a veritable time capsule just before it closed down in 2012. I remember old George telling me that he used to own the freehold for the whole building and had ended up selling it for comparatively very little in 2001. I wonder if he had bought it from our Ukrainin emigre? George was horrified at what he'd done when he saw prices rise. (According to the Land Registry records, though it looks like he sold it to a family member since the freehold is still owned by a Stephanou).
The front part of the premises remained as a tobacconist / confectioner unil it closed at the start of this century.
Google Street View, 2008.
As something of a post-script, Larry tells me that another brother, David (who had changed his name by deed-pole to Morris), founded or acquired what he describes as the London-wide Lewis's chain of tobacconists. I can't help thinking that this was based on the Lewis business that Hyman ran in Westminster (see above). David sold the business to fund his acquisition of the UK rights to a tobacco pipe with interchangeable bowls called the Falcon. It seems like it's still selling to this day.
By way of a second, postscript, Larry Raphael sent me some memories of the shop, Harringay and his father Harold Raphael in the Fifties, which I publish below with his permission.
My father spent a good part of his life in and around that shop in Harringay and he was a very warm, friendly and happy man. He seemed to know everybody in Harringay. We often went there on a Saturday to given my Mum a break. There used to be a cinema on the corner of Green Lanes and St Ann's Rd and we would go to the Saturday morning pictures. Dad knew the owner who treated us like little prince’s and sent us up to the balcony which we had all to ourselves. They had a sing a long, cartoons, a serial and a main feature like a Western, Marx Brothers, Three Stooges or The Bowery Boys, it was terrific fun.
Afterwards we would go to have lunch across the road. Back then the area had a lot of Greek Cypriots and some brothers had a surprisingly good restaurant on two levels. The upstairs was more upmarket with white tablecloths and so on. We little princes always ate upstairs at the invitation of the owners who knew Dad. We usually had our special of Spaghetti and Chips that was remarkably good as I still remember it well. One day we were asked if we would like something else and so we asked if they had Escalope of Veal something my mother would occasionally make us, she was a very good cook and were very well fed! Our host was delighted and surprised at our sophisticated tastes for eight and eleven year olds. When it arrived it was served beautifully garnished with finely chopped egg and capers and when we offered our compliments we were told that their chef, who I’m guessing was a partner, had cooked at the Caprice in Mayfair.
I have very fond memories of Harringay.
Dad also used to take us to a lot of events at the Stadium. Wild West shows, the Circus, Military Pagents even a form of car racing where the competitors purposely crashed into each other.
I should also mention that prior to having to be remodeled in order to sell sweets as well as tobacco the shops interior was absolutely gorgeous with very high quality wooden cabinets, counters and panelling. There was also a tall bronze or brass gas lit candle like structure that offered a light for your cigar or cigarette purchase, I was very sad when it had to be replaced with very ordinary shop fittings.
Most of the facts above have been gleaned from Ancestry original research. Thanks to Terry for the photos and Larry for filling in some gaps and providing his memories. The post was edited on 13and 16th January 2023 to incorporate a couple of corrections and some new information from our protagonist's grandson, Larry Raphael.
* The Tottenham register of electors for the period lists all the Grand Parade occupants, as resident in House number a, b, or c. This corresponds with the three residential floors above the shops. At 1 Grand Parade, Richard and Lilly are only allocated number 1: occupants for '1b' and '1c' are shown, but no 1a. I have assumed that this is an anomaly and that in fact the Zubraskys lived at 1a. Residential addressees are given for all of their neighbouring shopkeepers who don't live above the shop. Their immediate neighbours at 2 Grand Parade are an example.
I remember in the 50’s, Charlie Brandon’s son, Harry, ran the shop. I did a little bit of work for him, we left the area in the late fifties.
Thanks again for the earlier tip, Andrew. Any clues on “Ralph” at the Coliseum, or why Charlie’s name might have been above the shop in the Twenties?
interesting that a “Harry” ran the shop in your day. Richard and Lilly’s son was Harry. It's given rise to another possibility (See final para above, edited since your comment).
Hi Hugh, thinking about your comment regarding Harry’s parentage, although my memory of 70 yrs ago is not as clear these days, Charlie and Harry were unalike. I remember Charlie being in a grey dust coat, slightly built, his hair was combed straight back and was grey and Harry was much more swarthy with dark hair, fairly solidly built. I hope this helps
Do not remember who ran the shop in the 1950's as I was very young but do remember going in there with my Grandparents. Neither of them smoked but they did like buying Snuff !
Oh blast etc,etc........my post had vanished before I had finished. Start again. Fascinating read and great pics Hugh. I remember that tobacconist shop there but I more so remember the barber shop through the back of tobacconists. I thought the barber was Italian but ?? I had my first 'elephant trunk quiff' style cut there, around 1960 I suppose, based on a model's picture displayed therein. Brilliant, cut throat razor edged hairlines, Brylcreem or similar plastered and blow dried. Wow what a job, felt like a film star. Immaculate creations. Then maybe 62 time I moved on to the 'college boy' style before quitting barber shops altogether for several years from 63. Oh to be blessed with the luxury of hair now !! I can also see "Charlie Brandon" name there Hugh. BUT I never knew a dentist operated out of those premises, never heard that mentioned before. Now, can you tell me what is on the black sign that appears to hang out from shop across the pavement immediately before those gorgeous old Salisbury gas lamps ?
I shouldn't think the barber had changed much between the time you were here and when I took the photos. Did it all look pretty familliar?
The photo isn't hi-res enough to make out that sign. Even the one I published is just a corner of a bigger photo. I guess it'd either be an early from of pub sign or something related to the tobacconist. (Where's my time machine when I need it!)
No Hugh, I shouldn't think the barber changed at all ! But at my then age I think most barbers were considered to be 'Italian' and the bloke in question was of foreign descent so I would've simply assumed him to be Italian. Yes it all looks familiar though a "few" years down the line from my residency. But basically I can relate very much to that.
Looking for something completely unrelated in North Finchley, I just stumbled across an old photo I have that Charringtons took of the Salisbury in 1958. The tobacconists just makes it in to the photo. Added above in the main article.
With thanks to Larry Raphael, Richard's grandson, who emailed me to clear up the mystery about the Brandon/Raphael confusion and added a few other details. Rather than stretch out an explanation here. I've edited the original post.
Larry has just sent me a few of his memories of the shop, his father and Harringay, which I have published toward the end of the main post, with his permission.
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