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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

101 Addycombe Terrace

Heaton used to boast many small shops, often on the corners of otherwise residential streets. Luckily quite a few survive and one of these is at 101 Addycombe Terrace. The photograph below shows William Batchelor and his wife, Margaret, who between them ran the shop for almost 40 years.

Mr and Mrs Batchelor outside 101 Addycombe Terrace

Mr and Mrs Batchelor outside their shop

The photo was passed to us by their great-grandson, Stephen. The original is fragile and this image isn’t very clear, but you can clearly read the name W Batchelor and Co on the left and just about make out North Heaton Stores on the right. Can you see the hand cart on the right hand side as well? And is that a person next to it? Notice the advert for Bovril next to the door.

Durham pitman

William Morpeth Batchelor was born in Kelloe in the south east of County Durham in 1863 and, as a boy, lived in West Cornforth near Spennymoor. His father, who was born in Worthing in Sussex, was a coal weighman. His job was to weigh coal as it came out of the mine and keep a tally of each miner’s work. William followed his father into the pits and through the ten-yearly censuses, we can track his career. Initially he was a labourer (1881). By 1891, he was married and living in Bill Quay, with his wife Margaret Kent Batchelor and his young daughter, Annie. His job was recorded as an under heap keeper. We believe this is a job at the surface of a mine under the direction of the heap keeper but we’d welcome more information. By 1901, he was a colliery weighman, as his father had been, and had a son, Edward. Ten years later, William was still living in Bill Quay with Margaret and still working as a colliery weighman. By now they had 4 children. Annie, now 21, and Emily, 16, were both domestic servants; Edward, 18, an architect’s clerk (Edward was the grandfather of Stephen who kindly copied the photographs for us. He became an architect and property developer but died in 1952 before Stephen was born); and there was now Elsie, aged 6, too. We don’t know why but the family was soon to leave County Durham where William and Margaret had lived the first 50 or so years of their lives.

Grocery store

By 1914, the couple had become the proprietors of a grocery shop on Addycombe Terrace, where they remained for many years. Over time, the shop expanded into 103 and the living quarters into 105. The later picture below shows Elsie, who evidently helped in the shop.

101 Addycome Terrace - Elsie Batchelor

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll see lots of familiar brand names: Jacobs cream crackers, Bourneville cocoa, Lifebuoy soap, Players cigarettes, Ideal milk, Atora suet. And does anyone remember Melox dog food? William died in 1928. Margaret continued to run the shop until she too died in 1948. They are both buried in Heaton Cemetery.

The shop retained the family name for a few more years still, before being taken over by a George E Fenwick. A Sewell had taken over by 1959 and, from about 1962, it became John Miller’s, first as a grocer and then an off licence. We are hoping some readers will have memories of the shop back then. J L Miller’s off licence was still there in 1988.

But to backtrack, the Batchelors’ North Heaton Stores might have been the most enduring business at number 101 Addycombe but it wasn’t the first. And, although William and Margaret weren’t local, they didn’t come from as far afield as the first proprietor, Henry Richard James.

Indian tea dealer

This stretch of Addycombe Terrace was built at the end of the first decade of the twentieth century and the first owner of number 101 was Henry Richard Jones. We don’t know very much about Henry but what we do know is fascinating and we hope that some day we’ll unearth more about him. The 1911 census tells us that he was born in Billary, Madras in India in about 1872. He was already running the grocer’s shop by this time but he describes himself as a tea merchant and swimming instructor – an interesting and versatile man! Was he already a tea dealer in India? Or once he arrived in Heaton, did he simply employ his knowledge of the subcontinent in a trade where it would certainly have been useful? We don’t yet know. His name suggests that he was of British origin. The was a large British presence in the ‘Madras presidency’ in the late nineteenth century when Britain ruled India. India eventually achieved independence in 1947.

We don’t know when Henry moved to Britain or whether he came straight to Newcastle. We can see from the records though that he was here by 1901, lodging at Mrs Mary Rodgerson’s boarding house at 50 Cardigan Terrace. (Mary, a widow, was assisted in the running of the boarding house by her 13 year old daughter and she had two younger children.) But by 1908, Henry was married to a local woman, Mary Irvine, living further down Cardigan Terrage at number 108 and running a grocery at 182 Heaton Road (what is now Sky Apple cafe and restaurant). The Addycombe Road shop came a couple of years later but by 1914, he had moved on: we don’t yet know where to.

Still going strong

And now, over a hundred years after it first opened, 101 Addycombe terrace is still a grocery store, general dealer and off licence. Omer Hayat has run Omer’s Convenience Store for 21 years. Let’s hope the shop lasts another hundred years!

If you can add to our story or have an old photograph of Heaton to share, please leave a reply or email Chris.jackson@heatonhistorygroup.org