Tag Archives: fruiterer

Shopping on Heaton Road: a century of social change

An analysis of the shops on a section of Heaton Road (east side, from the railway up to Meldon Terrace) in the year 1898, 1914, 1939, 1965 and the present day, shows how the shops and shopping habits of the people of Heaton give an insight into changes in British society over the period.

Nineteenth Century

In 1898, the shops on Heaton Road comprised only the stretch from the railway line to the Baptist Church, but the sample provides us with a clear picture of shops selling food or non-food, with only one providing a service and that very much of the time, being a photographer. People obviously shopped locally for all their food and other requirements and the drapers and haberdasher shops show that the needlewomen of the area were very active.

World War 1

In 1914, the shops still indicate a local habit of shopping for food and other goods, with many butchers, grocers and fruiterers.

Staff outside Brough's 60 Heaton Road post 1923

The appearance of three milliners reflects the standards of the time ie that no respectable women would appear in public without some head covering, but also the affluence of those living near or on Heaton Road at the time.

World War 2

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the shops really have a 20th century feel, with opticians and radio dealers. But the butchers, fruiterers and grocers show that people still shop locally for food. The increase in the number of shops acting as delivers of services, such as plumbers, decorators etc, begins a trend which continues to this day. The loss of the dairy and bakers probably reflects the growth of large national companies dominating the market.

Sixties

In 1965, people are still shopping locally for food (two butchers, three fruiterers, three grocers), and other goods; but a sign of the times is the demise of the last milliner, although the continuing existence of the final drapers indicates that the impact of globalisation and the import of cheap clothes had not yet made a difference. The move towards shops providing services rather than food or goods continues and includes the very sixties poodle parlour and launderette. The milk bar is the first example of a trend to come, of eat-in or take away food.

Heaton Ice Cream Parlour in the late 1980s

Heaton Ice Cream Parlour in the late 1980s

And now

In 2014, we can see a complete turnaround in the types of shops in this section of Heaton Road. In 1898 over 50% of the shops sold food; in 2014 only 5 out of 38 sold food (13%). Obviously this is because of the impact of the large supermarket chains and also of the more general level of car ownership, which is required if a visit to a large supermarket for a weekly shop is to take place. The existence of home refrigeration in virtually all homes is also a factor in the large weekly supermarket shop. The trend for the food shops to be replaced by services is continued to the point where 50% of all shops in the survey in 2014 were service providers of some kind. Some of the services were very 21st century, such as the tanning salon, web design, fancy dress hire and tattoo parlour.

Heaton Road Tattoo Parlour 2014

The biggest changes since 1963 are reflections of the change in the inhabitants of Heaton. Six letting agents, mainly catering for students, indicate the vast number of students now living in Heaton since the huge expansion in student numbers following the Robbins Report of 1963. This may also be the reason for the expansion in the numbers of premises providing cooked food, either to eat-in or takeaway (c25%), though other factors come into play including greater affluence, and with most men and women working, the lack of time for home cooking.

There has been a great change to shops and shopping on Heaton Road since 1898. But whilst the move away from over the counter sales of food and other goods towards services and cooked food is clear, there may be evidence of a move back to local provision. While it is unlikely that we’ll ever see drapers and haberdashers again whilst the rest of the world continues to provide us with cheap clothing, there is a move back to the local shopping parade of small supermarkets (see Tesco Express, Sainsbury’s Local), providing a service that was once provided by many independent grocers, butchers and fruiterers. In addition, local shops seem more recently to have become home to more esoteric and niche businesses (many in start-up mode).

We can’t predict the future for Heaton Road shops, but we can be certain that they will continue to evolve.

Alan Giles

188 Heaton Road

The latest ‘ghost’ sign to appear on Heaton Road is at number 188. Developers renovating the former Index stationer’s have uncovered a sign, saying ‘M A Lawson’. So who was Mr or Mrs Lawson? When did he or she run the business? And what sort of shop was it?

188 Heaton Road IMG_0852 (2)

The block between King John Street and King John Terrace, which includes 188, was built around 1900 and the first occupant listed in the trade directories was Mrs Margaret Snowdon. The 1901 census tells us that she was a 52 year old widow, originally from Humshaugh in Northumberland. She had 4 children and her sister living with her and was running a boarding house at home. Also listed in the census at the address were William and Mary Williamson and Walter and Amelia Webb, described as having two rooms each. Walter and William were both engineers from outside the North East, perhaps working temporarily in the area. In the trade directories, Margaret is listed as the occupant until around the end of the first decade of the twentieth century but by the time of 1911 census, she and her family were living just around the corner at 6 Mundella Terrace. Her now grown up children were all working – an assistant school mistress with Durham County Council, a bank clerk, a water company clerk and, fittingly as we’ll see later, a typist for a civil engineering firm.

Duns roaming

It wasn’t until 1910 that a retail business seems to have opened at 188. The proprietor was John Duns, a fruit merchant who had been born in Wooler in about 1856. The 1911 census was conducted on 2nd April and on that date he was living above the shop with his wife, Ann, and seven children. However, very shortly afterwards, the family was to set sail for Canada on board SS Southwark. They arrived on 4 May. John was never to return. He died in Vancouver in 1929.

Enduring

By the beginning of World War 1, Margaret Anne (or Annie) Lawson was running the shop, still as a fruiterer’s, a business which remarkably was to last until the late 1950s, not far off 50 years. Almost as remarkably, its signage lives on!

In the late fifties her son, Robson Moffitt Lawson, is listed as the proprietor but he must have taken over well before that as Margaret would have been almost 100 by then had she lived.

Margaret was born around 1861 in Wallsend. On 2 April 1911, when the Dun family were at 188, Margaret, described as a widow, was living at 2 Seventh Avenue with four grown up children and an aunt. Two of her children (Joseph and Elizabeth) had gone into teaching, while John and Robson were described as shop assistants.

Margaret had been married to Robert, a draper’s assistant from Blaydon, but we haven’t been able to find out when he died or whether they ran a shop together before he did. Perhaps you can help? However, our research into the shops of Heaton has shown that shop-keeping was seen as a suitable and respectable way for a widow to earn a living. Keeping a boarding house is, as we have already seen, the other occupation that crops up regularly in this context.

True to type

It wasn’t until the early 1960s that the business saw another change of use. It became a typewriter dealer’s.

The earliest patent for a machine which seems to have been similar to a typewriter was obtained in Britain in 1714 but it wasn’t until 1873 that the term ‘type-writer’ was first used when Remingon in New York started to manufacture the first machine with a QWERTY keyboard. By 1910 design had become standardised and the proto-type electric typewriters were beginning to appear too.

In 1919, a business selling and servicing typewriters and other office equipment was established by Paul Bertram Nichols in Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. Its customers were mainly government departments, councils and a number of large companies.

Paul had been born in 1888 in Gateshead, one of at least ten children of Susanna and Charles and Susanna Nichols (who was from Portland in Dorset). When the lower part of Pilgrim Street was due for demolition around 1960, he decided to relocate the business to Heaton.

Ronald Jenkins and his wife had worked for the company since its Pilgrim Street days and in 1969 took over the business, setting up the limited company P B Nichols (Newcastle) Ltd. Their son, Grahame, has provided us a great deal of interesting information about the firm and the premises:

On arrival at Heaton Rd the shop was vacant but it was believed to have been a greengrocer’s beforehand: Mam remembers being on her knees scrubbing the floors and having to contend with a lot of soil residue – left over from the produce.

The ‘front shop’ was always more of a ‘attractively laid-out’ stockroom than a thriving retail shop per se. The stock items were mostly to service their commercial customers but maybe a couple of dozen locals or passers-by would call in on an average week and made a small supplement to revenues. In the late 80s, as photocopiers became more modern/accessible they offered phtoocopying services. The rear of the building was used for stock, machine storage and some mechanical work on the typewriters. First floor was toilets, a ‘tank room’ for cleaning stripped typewriters in a carbon tetrachloride spray booth (Health and Safety!), the main workshop, and dad’s office – which was rarely used as such but doubled as a showroom for the more executive end furniture. The attics were used for storage (chairs, filing cabinets, company records). The cellar was used for storing desking.

… Anything German was regarded with what we would now consider to be undeserved animosity. However, being a true mechanically-minded man, my father had always appreciated Adler typewriters for their engineering excellence. He was therefore instrumental in introducing them to the north east and became Adler’s main dealership in Newcastle from as soon as (probably!) you could get away with it and not have a brick thrown through your window! He continued to sell them throughout his tenure.

…Sometime in the ’80’s, fierce winds brought down the top section of the chimneys and they fell onto the path on Heaton Rd. Fortunately this was early morning and no one was hurt. You will see that the stack was reduced and there are now no pots. The other architectural point is that, like many of the others in the terrace, the original dormer attic wondows have been replaced with Velux one (this was done well after mam and dad’s involvement with the business ended).

…In 1988, due to a series of heart attacks and major heart surgery, dad had to sell the business. It then became (for registered purposes) the Newcastle Typewriter Co but the shop fascia remained as P.B. Nichols so that established goodwill/trade was continued. My mother continued to work during the handover and retired in 90/91.

Our research shows that, in the early days, most businesses in Heaton sold food but later there was a trend towards suppliers of services (and, later still, more specifically towards cafes and takeaways, lettings agents and services targeted at the current demographic of Heaton) so 188 is typical in that sense.

To the present

In 1993 the business was sold again to Index, which, of course, operated until 2013. Index moved with the times, evolving from typewriters and became a more student-orientated business – a stationer’s.

And now the shop is undergoing another change of ownership and perhaps of business type but in the process Heaton has rediscovered its past.

Can you add to the story?

As usual, we’re looking for your help? What do you know or remember about 188 Heaton Road and its various occupants? Do you remember the typerwiter dealer’s or Lawson’s fruiterer’s? And what are your memories of Index? Please contact Chris Jackson if you can help.

204 Heaton Road

This photograph shows the fruiterer and florist shop which once stood at 204 / 204A Heaton Road, the premises now occupied by Heaton Property.

Outside 204 Heaton Road 1911

The photograph was taken in 1911. On the right is Florence Webb, the grandmother of Heaton History Group member Les Turnbull. In the middle is her workmate – we only know that she was called ‘Maggie’ – and on the left is ‘Mary’, a shop assistant from Blenkinsop’s, the baker’s next door. And can you see the delivery boy? The notice on the left announces that tickets for Heaton’s Electric Palace cinema can be bought in the shop.

At this time, the fruiterer’s was run by Mrs Sarah Smith, who also had a shop at 205 Shields Road and who lived at 98 Cardigan Terrace. Sarah was born in Bacton, Suffolk in c1852. By 1911, she was a widow, living with her four working sons, Jephtha, Elijah, Bertrand and Charles, plus a lodger. She had moved to Diss in Norfolk, where she met her husband, to work as a servant to a merchant there. Presumably, like many other people at that time, the young couple came to Newcastle because there were greater economic prospects in the industrial North.

Florence’s story

In 1911 Florence was living at 114 Simonside Terrace, with her mother and father and two younger brothers. Before she died, she wrote about her experiences between leaving school in 1908 and leaving work in about 1915 to get married:

1908: I left school in May at age of 14 years and started work in a small general shop wages 4/- per week, hours 9 am to 4 pm. Served in shop and helped with other household duties. My employers were an elderly couple who were very kind to me.

1909: Aged 15 years. Started work at Simpsons, 2 Raby Street, confectioners. Wages 5/- per week, hours 10 am till 10-30 pm. No time for meals and nobody to relieve me. Sunday duty 10-30 am till 10 pm, for which I got a day off during the week. No holidays then. Worked for nearly a year.

1910: Left and was off work six weeks then got work in fruit shop on Shields Road Byker 6/- per week. Hours 9 am till 9 pm (1 hour off for dinner) Monday to Thursday, Friday 10 pm, Saturday 12 pm. Before I got home it was 1 o’clock Sunday morning. People used to do their shopping after 10-30 pm when the theatres closed. Shields Road used to be quite busy then. My brother, twelve years old, was errand boy at weekends, Friday night 5 pm till 10 pm, Saturday 9 am till 12 pm, 1 hour for dinner, wages 1/6 and bag of fruit. He helped in the shop and ran errands and thought himself lucky if he got a penny. One old lady used to give him 2d for taking a heavy order of fruit and vegetables a mile away.

1911: Transferred to Heaton Road branch with girl 14 and errand boy to help wages 7/- per week and half-day on Wednesday. Left this shop and started work in Heaton at tobacconists and confectionary, 1912. Hours 8-30 am to 8-30 pm, 1 hour for lunch, half day on Tuesdays and one weeks annual holiday. Wages 8/- per week rising to 10/- when I had charge of the shop. Interviewed and paid all travellers and ordered all goods. Went to this job for three weeks and stayed four years. Bonus 10/- on the stock each six months. We cooked our own hams (6d per quarter pound) and sold fresh country eggs from Kirkwhelphington 12 a 1/-.

Florence’s working conditions improved a little after the passing of legislation to improve the working condition of shop workers. You can actually see a newspaper board advertising the coming changes in our photograph of Millers Hill Bakery on Chillingham Road, taken at about the same time. The Shops Act 1911 granted shop assistants a half day holiday, set the maximum working week to 60 hours and made it compulsory to provide washing facilities in every shop.

Early days

The block which includes 204 Heaton Road was built at the very end of the nineteenth century. To begin with, 204 was a residential property. It was first occupied by J Davidson, a tinsmith.

The first shop in the premises was opened about 1904. It was from the outset a fruiterer’s, originally owned by Mrs Mary Eden, a Londoner who had married a fruit salesman from Leicester. In the early days, the shop changed hands many times. The following year, the proprietor was a Miss Edith Wright and only a year after that a Mrs J H Evans had taken it over. She lived at 68 Rothbury Terrace and had a second shop in Jesmond. Sarah Smith came next in 1909 but she too only stayed a few years. Around the outbreak of World War 1, the shop belonged to Miss Ellen Buchanan. Five proprietors in just over ten years.

The coming of war

Only a year later, James Lillie became the first male owner of the shop. Sadly his tenure too was short-lived. James was born in South Shields in 1888. By 1911, aged 22 he was working as a grocery shop assistant. By 1915 he had married his girlfriend, Ada, and opened his own shop in a prosperous part of Heaton. His prospects were good. The world was already at war though and James joined the Northumberland Fusiliers and later Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment. He was killed in action on the Somme on 12th October 1916 and is buried in the London Cemetery and Extension in Longueval, Somme, France.

Lost memorial

James was commemorated on a memorial in Leighton Primitive Methodist Church and Sunday School.

Leighton Methodist Church War Memorial

When the church was pulled down, this plaque was apparently removed to Cuthbert Bainbridge Memorial Methodist Church which itself has since been demolished. The North East War Memorials Project is trying to find out what happened to the plaque and to the church’s stained glass windows. Please get in touch via Heaton History Group (chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org) if you can help locate it.

A head for business

After the war there was a change of use. Miss Mary Gibson acquired the shop and her business was destined to last. Mary was born in Amble in 1877. She trained as a dressmaker and lived for much of her the adult life at 106 Meldon Terrace, firstly with her sister and then alone. The shop she opened was a milliner’s. As it didn’t close until the late 1940s, some older readers may have memories of buying a hat there? We’d love to hear more about Miss Gibson and the shop she ran for thirty years.

But by 1950 hats were becoming less universally worn and more people were buying clothes in large department stores. Milliners were already disappearing from places like Heaton Road. Once Miss Gibson retired, it was time for another change of direction.

Eye for business

The next business lasted even longer. In the early 1950s Gerald Walden, an optician, took over the shop. He was still at number 204 in 1995, having in the meantime expanded with shops in Forest Hall and Denton. Who remembers having their eyes tested or buying their glasses there?

Can you help?

As usual, we’re looking for your help? Can you add to what we’ve written? What do you know or remember about 204 Heaton Road? Do you remember the milliner’s or the optician’s? Can you fill in the gap between Walden’s closing and Heaton Property opening? And can you help us track down the missing war memorial? Please contact Chris Jackson (chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org)if you can answer any of the above or if you have any information or photographs which help tell the story of Heaton.

The Prince of Wales’ visit 1923

The photographs below were taken on 5 July 1923. The occasion was a visit to Newcastle by the Prince of Wales, later to be crowned King Edward VIII. The Prince’s visit to the North East lasted 3 days. Amongst his engagements in Newcastle itself were visits to the Royal Agricultural Show, which that year was held on the Town Moor, and to St James’ Park, St Thomas’ Church and Walker Naval Yard. On the afternoon of Thursday 5th he went to Parsons in Heaton and returned to town along Shields Road. It was a very hot day with the temperature reported to have reached 86 Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) in the shade, although you might not know from the clothes the crowd are wearing.

199. Prince of Wales Visit Shields Road

200. Prince of Wales Visit 1923

206. Prince of Wales

Shop Shields Road Lipton Pledger Prince of Wales Royal visit Couzens

Shields Road in 1923

The pictures were taken by Edgar Couzens, a keen amateur photographer, who at that time was the proprietor of a butcher’s shop at 185 Shields Road. He set up his tripod to the side of his shop, which was just East of Heaton Road. Thank you to Mike Couzens, Edgar’s grandson for permission to publish them for the first time.

Lipton’s, the most prominent shop in the last photo, is now Ladbrokes Bookmakers. Next door (in premises now also part of Ladbrokes) was Pledger’s drapery which also had the larger shop two doors down, now Nobles Amusements. Between them was squeezed Bookless, a fruiterer, now the Cooperative Funeral Store. The Raby Hotel was, as now, further along the road to the right.

While Lipton’s was a national chain which had its beginnings in Glasgow, Pledger’s was a local company. It had had a presence on Shields Road since the 1890s, firstly at number 214 as Flintoft and Pledger. But by 1900 it was solely Pledger’s and had expanded into a second shop.

Successful Businessman

Herbert Pledger senior was born in Cambridgeshire, the son of a ‘bootmaker and publican’. He was one of at least 10 children. By 1891 at the age of 22, he was a draper’s assistant in Saffron Walden, Essex, and lodging with his employer. Within a few years he had moved North and entered into a business partnership on Shields Road. Soon he was to have his own firm.

We can track Herbert’s success by his various Heaton addresses. In 1895, he lodged at 29 Kingsley Place. By 1900, he was married, with a young son, and was the householder at 106 Cardigan Terrace. In 1911 he, his Gateshead-born wife Annie and their growing family lived at 20 Simonside Terrace and by the time this photo was taken in 1923, they lived at the much grander Graceville, overlooking the park on Heaton Road. He died in 1929 with an estate worth over £80,000, a significant fortune then.

His sons, another Herbert and William followed him into the drapery business and Pledger’s was a well known landmark on Shields Road until the mid-1960s. It was succeeded by Waring and Gillow, a furniture store.

Parsons

The photograph here shows CA Parsons employees who had fought in World War 1 forming a guard of honour for the prince earlier in the day.

If you can add to the information we have here, we’d love to hear from you. Contact Chris Jackson chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org