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Join us in part three of David’s memories of Gosforth High Street as we set off from where we left off in the last post outside Wilkinson’s grocer shop.
After Wilkinson’s, we come to the Co-op Pharmacy, already mentioned above. This today is San Lorenzo’s Italian restaurant and next door, now Pizza Express was Bookless’, a fruiterer and greengrocers shop, but not at this shop until the end of the 60’s when the manageress was Miss. Vera Wilson, a lovely old lady. Two doors on was Mr J.Duncan Campbell’s Drapers & Haberdashery Shop, double fronted with walk-in window areas for display. Mr Campbell was a very ‘proper’ gentleman, possibly assuming this persona since he dealt a lot with the ladies’ it’s now Santander Bank. Moving on to 133, we reach the earlier Bookless Greengrocer’s who were here until 1969 when they moved South; it’s now Greggs, the Bakers.
The Maypole, chain grocers, came next, until the mid-’50s, now the home of King and Wood Opticians and then we reach Northern Rock Building Society. Passed The Rock was a larger shop, Laidlaw’s Home and Garden Shop, selling hardware, wallpaper, paints & gardening requisites. An interesting shop and competition for the longstanding Thorpe’s Hardware opposite and the only wallpaper source on the High Street. In those days, wallpaper came with a protective edging on both sides of the sheet known as the selvedge. Once you had chosen your paper, for a small fee, the shop would remove this edging on a little hand-operated rolling machine with two cutting wheels on either side. Since they had to roll right through by hand, you had to leave your paper with them for a day or two longer while this was done. A fascinating process to watch for a small boy, with the selvedge streaming off the sides of the roll in a continuous ribbon. Since the lady assistant (she may have been the owner/manager’s wife) was a patient of Father’s, yet another discount was available. This shop has now been Dawson’s Travel for some years.
Toddle Inn Cafe
A place of rest for some, we have now come to The Toddle Inn Café and coffee bar, which was here until about 1966/67 and very much a place of the time and magnet for teenagers and young adults. Pepsi or Coca Cola, ice cream floats, espresso coffee from a proper espresso machine, with tall chrome handles that were pulled down during the brewing process and Pyrex glass cups /saucers were used here, so iconic of the late 50’s early ’60s, and Coke was almost always drunk with a long straw from the traditional waisted bottles.
Here you could also buy a single Woodbine or Domino cigarette taken from a small glass at the rear of the counter where they were kept. The café owner was Joe Seery, who also owned the ice cream kiosk in The Central Park, beside the tennis courts – now long gone. He had another shop off Church Rd. at 2, Hyde Terrace. (a Grocer & Fruiterer). It was said they also had a crisp making business though I am unsure where this would have been. Now, the café long departed, it’s the National Westminster Bank.
An unusual use for a lavatory seat!
Comment from Joe Seery
“I did run The Toddle Inn Café for some years, when my father and mother went into the Antiques business and I did man the ice cream kiosk in Central Park” at times when not at school.
The crisp making, by my father, was done at 2 Hyde Terrace.
While managing the Toddle Inn, an old gent Tom, who had had a hard laboring life, but a good one, told me about the day the block opposite was to be opened by Newcastle Lord Mayor. They had finished fixing the block’s name prominently above the shops, just in time, but the “O” went missing. Tom went on to tell me the letter “O” was replaced by a lavatory seat, which in those days was always made of wood. With careful joinery this was used and pride saved. These letters have all now been removed, but when in place you could see how the lavatory seat had served a more regal purpose than its original intention.” ©Joe Seery
Lemonade Powder, Aniseed Balls and Dolly Mixtures
Finally, at the end of this long parade of shops, we have reached Maynard’s Sweetshop. Part of the large local chain of sweetshops, they sold a vast range of sweets in a multitude of jars behind the counter, satisfying all tastes from black bullets, aniseed balls, fruit drops and dolly mixtures to lemonade powder to dip your finger in, turning it bright yellow, and rather posher boxes of chocolates. It was here you would come if you wanted a special large box of Dairy Box or Milk Tray for a present as they had more selection than most other shops and even stocked the more exotic brands such as Black Magic, Terrys Spartan or All Gold. Today it’s become Bridgford’s yet another Estate Agent, which now abound on the High Street.
Crossing over West Avenue and Ivy Road in front of the two churches, we come to Barclays Bank on the bottom corner of Ivy Road. Next door to the Bank on Ivy Road was the Brandling Garage in the old Gosforth Tram Sheds and stables. I don’t actually recall the garage from that period. These premises became Lipton’s, then Presto Supermarket around 1970 and later Kwiksave, who subsequently moved into the Gosforth centre where the shop was ultimately developed into a Sainsbury’s Branch. The tram sheds were to become a furniture store and have now given way to a large Gymnasium. Barclays Bank premises, after lying empty for many years, was recently developed into a quality optician’s shop.
C L Stewart’s Hunter’s Wool Shop and Lilburn Fish Monger
Passing the bank, we come upon another double shop unit C L.Stewart’s, a seed merchants with other gardening equipment and supplies. Stewart’s always had a range of products standing outside, such as sacks of gardening materials, peat, bamboo canes and sometimes a few simple tools. Inside, the shop had a very particular aroma, probably related to the range of fertilisers they stocked. This shop became Granada about 1977, then a Plumbing & Heating Supplies firm ) – now St Oswald’s Hospice Bookshop.
The little shop beyond was Hunter’s Wool shop, suppliers of wools and all things for the needlewoman and two doors more and we come upon Lilburn’s the Fish Mongers, and Game Dealer later called Philips Fishmongers, a branch of a firm in Newcastle’s Westgate Road later to be Sunshades (Blinds) and then – Fones Tek. This would become the entrance to the Gymnasium on Ivy Road, which now runs along behind the shops in the old tram sheds. A second wet fish shop on the High Street, and where would you find one today? Even the supermarket wet fish counters are being removed with just prepacks and frozen fish remaining.
Reaching the shop that is now a St Oswald’s Hospice Charity Shop, I’m unsure what it was at that time, but it did become the Travel Centre with Radio Rentals just next door; now it’s a branch of Subway.
Steels Cycles, Eblett Newsagent, Davison Chemist
Next, for cyclists of all ages, we come to the long-established Steels Cycle Shop, which later moved to 5 Salter’s Rd, to take over Edgar Tulips old cycle shop and ultimately arrived in Station Road in South Gosforth. Many will recall the puncture repair kits tins containing a tiny yellow crayon to mark the puncture with, patches and a mini tube of rubber solution, a little square of sandpaper to roughen the repair area and a squared stick of French chalk with a little metal grater to grate over the repaired area and prevent sticking to the outer tube.
The Midland Bank (later HSBC) moved in after Steels moved out from here.
Beyond Steel’s, we come to Eblett’s, the newsagent later to become Kirkley’s, before being renamed Gosforth News in more recent days.
On the end of this long parade known as Windsor Buildings, we finally reach J R Davison’s Chemist shop. This was where, if impoverished, we called in on the way to a Saturday Morning children’s matinee at the Royalty cinema or the Globe, which was just up Salter’s Road. Davison’s stocked liquorice root, colt’s foot rock, aniseed balls and barley sugar sticks amongst other confectionery delights that were deemed more suited to a chemist’s shop, and all were displayed in large sweety jars along the top of the high glass counter. For just a ½ d, you could get several aniseed balls or a stick of liquorice root. This ‘twig like’ piece of dried root could happily be chewed for the whole time you were in the cinema with its slight flavour of liquorice, finally ending up like a small paint or toothbrush. Perhaps the cheapest and longest lasting of all confections, it certainly lasted much longer than Everlasting Toffee that was available elsewhere.
Davison’s was replaced in due course by Crawford’s of Edinburgh, a bakery chain eventually giving way to Your Move, yet another Estate Agent.
Passing the small church here at the bottom of Woodbine Road and then the primary school on the corner of Salter’s Road,[ now a car park], we’ve practically reached the end of where I generally ventured other than to the cinemas. Not wishing to have to carry it too far, most of my shopping was done at the South end of the High Street. However, there was one more notable shop on Salter’s Road just before the Globe Cinema. This was Andersons, a general dealer and grocer. Here we could get a ‘cheap’ ice lolly after the cinema if money permitted for about 2d or 3d. These were called Jubblies, a watery orange ice lolly shaped like a pyramid about 3 – 4 inches in size and without a stick in a waxed cardboard covering. Tearing off one corner, you could squeeze the pyramid of ice up gradually as you enjoyed it. As you sucked away at it, the juice came out, leaving behind more of a pyramid of plain ice than a fruit lolly. They’re still available today for home freezing, but they are now only half their former size.
Globe Cinema and T Punshon Newsagent
The Globe Cinema, having converted to bingo in 1961, has now been Poon’s Gosforth Palace Chinese restaurant for many years. The Royalty Cinema closed in 1981 after much consideration as to whether it should become a roller skating rink or some similar such use. It was then knocked down to arise again from the dust as Homedowne House, a sheltered housing block.
Back again to the bottom of Salter’s Road, we continue North past the Gosforth Hotel (Pub), and next come to Punshon’s The Newsagent and Confectioner.
I didn’t come along to Punshon’s very often in those days but came to know the lady who worked behind the counter in the late 80’s when I would occasionally pop in with my youngest son, Justin. This was Betty Grigg, who was well known for her happy, cheerful manner and her love of kids. Her black hair was always tied in up into her trademark bun. She seemed to really know so many of her young customers and would often come out from behind the counter and slip them a sweety or two. I may have encountered Betty in earlier days but do not recall this. This shop is – now Gosforth Flame Kebab & Barbecue.
I have little recollection of the shops beyond, with the exception of the last one before reaching Landsdowne Terrace. This was the Launderette owned by James Woodall, a local businessman who also owned the Grove Garage at the South end of the High Street. At the corner of Roseworth Avenue. ©David Wardell
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