212 Chillingham Road

The photograph below shows the premises at 212 Chillingham Road,  now occupied by Martha and Mary’s, a community cafe and meeting place, run by volunteers from St Gabriel’s Church.image

The shop dates from around 1908 and the first occupier, W Wilson, confectioners, appears in the trade directories from 1909 and remained until 1919. The proprietor was William Wilson, who at the time of the 1911 census was aged 48 and living at 10 Heaton Road with his mother and sister, both called Sarah, and his brother, Septimus, who also gave his occupation as confectioner and so presumably worked in the family shop too.  William was born and bred in East Newcastle, one of ten children,  and he was already describing himself as a confectioner in the 1881 census, when he was aged 18. At that time, he lived with his mother and siblings in Gibb Street, Byker.

The boy in the picture is Randolph Cummings, born in 1895. At the time of the 1911 census, Randolph was living with his father, a furniture dealer and four brothers and sisters at 86 Simonside Terrace. Ten years earlier his father is described as a pawnbroker and the family were living in Grosvenor Avenue, Jesmond. Randolph’s granddaughter, Noreen Rees,  sent us a copy of the photograph. There is also a copy on display in Martha and Mary’s. The billboard on the right, belonging to the newsagent’s next door advertises a ‘coming revolution in shop hours’. Any idea what that might have referred to?

In 1920, the shop was still a confectioners but now went by the name of Mosley and Jamieson. And in the mid 1920s it was referred to in the directories as Millers Hill Bakery. However, as you can see, the photo taken in the early days of William Wilson’s confectionary, before WW1, already includes this name. We’re not sure what the relationship between Wilson’s and Millers Hill would have been. Any ideas?

By 1928, the shop had been acquired by the London and Newcastle Tea Company, which was one of the UK’s earliest chain stores. The company had 40-50 branches by 1880 at which time it was the second biggest grocery chain in the country, just ahead of the rapidly expanding Thomas Lipton.

The firm had a loyalty scheme in operation as early as 1875, with the network of groceries  which sold the company’s tea giving a brass check with each purchase. Customers were invited to save the checks until they had acquired enough to claim a prize such as a toy, an item of crockery or a household gadget. The checks are now collectors’ items but we haven’t seen one stamped ‘Heaton’. Check your drawers!

It wasn’t until the late 1960s that the shop changed hands again, when it became Adam’s, a greengrocers. And this is where we need your help. Can you add anything to the information here? Do you have any memories of Adams’ or any of the other shops which occupied 212 Chillingham Road before Martha and Mary’s? Or do you have any old photos of other shops in Heaton?  If so, we’d love to hear from you. Contact chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org or comment here.

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