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HomeGroup ActivitesThe Pumphrey Family: Newcastle Tea and Coffee Merchants

The Pumphrey Family: Newcastle Tea and Coffee Merchants

In 1855 Thomas Pumphrey went into partnership with his uncle, Henry Richardson, as a grocer and tea and coffee dealer in Newcastle’s Cloth Market. Thomas became the sole proprietor of the business on the retirement of his uncle in 1859. A hundred and sixty four years later, the name ‘Pumphrey’ is still associated with the sale of tea and coffee.

However Thomas Pumphrey was not just a successful businessman. He was also a prominent member of the Society of Friends, a philanthropist, a pacifist, a supporter of slave emancipation, and a social reformer. Come to our December talk to find out more.


Our speaker

Eleanor George was born in Ashington and grew up in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. She left the north east in 1969 to study pharmacy at Aston University in Birmingham and only returned to the area in 2004. In the interim she has lived in various parts of the UK, in St Louis, Missouri and in Belgium.

She has always had a love of history, was awarded a BA in the subject in 2005 and an MA in Local and Regional Historical Research in 2013. She also served, for nearly ten years, on the committee of the Association of Northumberland Local History Societies and co-edited their final publication ‘A Northumbrian Miscellany, Historical Essays in Memory of Constance M Fraser’ in 2015. This is one of her portfolio of ten talks.

Book now

Our talk will take place on Wednesday 11 December 2019 at The Corner House, Heaton NE6 5RP at 7.30pm (Doors open at 7.00pm. You are advised to take your seat by 7.15pm). All welcome. FREE for Heaton History Group members. £2 for non-members. Please book your place by contacting / 07443 594154.




  1. Thanks for the memories re Pumphrys or Pumphry and Carrick Watson as it was known. My mother worked as a clerk at both the Cloth Market and Blackett Street branch. I am not aware of when she first joined but I know certainly in my lifetime she worked from post WW2 until the sixties. She finished opening the Stephenson Road branch. I occasionally would visit both stores as a child.

    Mr. Pumphry was a prominent figure in the Boy Scout movement and I would run into him occasionally at the Boy Scout camp at the Gosforth Race track.

    The store was predominantly for the wealthier segment of Newcastle society and would turn up with their chauffeurs who carried the groceries to the waiting cars. Seems like there was never a quiet period in the store. When clerks were not serving customers they were put to work weighing up and wrapping pound bags of ground coffee.

    Thks again for the memories
    Malcolm Metcalf
    Vancouver Canada

  2. My family used Pumphrey`s grocery shop in Newcastle just after WW11 As a child I went with my mother and our Ration Books to sit on chairs beside the Mahogany counter attended to by a white coated grocer. As well as the fascination of the slight of hand in weighing and wrapping the goods, butter, cheese sugar etc my best memory is of the contraption used for paying for the goods. It comprised wires in the ceiling along which whizzed canisters of money to the cashire`s booth. Does anyone else remember this ?

    • Yeah, I recall the canisters flying back and forth. The purchase and the cash were put into the canister and shortly after the receipt and the cash change was returned. What impressed mostly, I loved the smell of the frsh ground coffee 🙂

  3. I would love to see a photo of Pumpherys Stephenson Rd Heaton Newcastle upon Tyne. I worked there about 1959/1960.

  4. My mother was working at Stephenson road during that period her name was Isabela shortened often to simply Belle ??

    • Hi Malcolm, unfortunately I can’t remember names but I know the people I worked with were nice. I remember we had a promotion of Dutch cheeses one week and a girl dressed up in a Dutch costume was there to give samples out and talk about the cheeses.


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