Tag Archives: stationer

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.

200 Heaton Road

In 1898 there seem to have been just two (unnumbered and unnamed) houses on Heaton Road north of Heaton Baptist Church (apart, that is, from the separately listed Jesmond Vale Terrace): one was occupied by John Henry Brown, a cycle manufacturer, and the other by a builder named John Wilson.

The Falmouth Hotel

But two years later this part of Heaton Road looked very different. Building in the neighbourhood had continued apace and progressed northwards onto what had until very recently been farmland and the same John Wilson is listed in the trade directories as the first resident of 200 Heaton Road, the southernmost address in the block between Meldon Terrace and King John Street, the shop which, in 2013, is The Butterfly Cabinet cafe.

Originally though, as you can see from the photograph below, the block was primarily residential. John’s immediate neighbours were J Davidson, a tinsmith, and A W Penny, a ‘gentleman ‘. John himself though is more difficult to fathom. He had been born in Milton, Cumberland (not far from Brampton on the Newcastle – Carlisle Railway) and was by this time 45 years old. He was married to Elizabeth, a Scot. There were no children living with them in 1901 but the couple was affluent enough to employ a live-in housemaid and kitchen maid.

John had lived in Heaton for a good few years by this time. In 1887, he was already described as a builder with an office address in Heaton Park Road. By 1892, he was still a builder, living in Heaton Grove.

But in the early 1900s, although his primary occupation is still given as a builder, he’s also described as a wine and spirit merchant and it’s clear from directories, newspaper reports of brewster sessions and the photograph below that in the early days, an off licence operated at number 200, together with the adjoining 1 and 3 King John Street and that John Wilson owned the business premises and lived above or next to the shop. It’s called the Falmouth Hotel in unsuccessful applications for a ‘full’ licence to sell alcohol in 1899 and in this photograph but that name doesn’t appear in the trade directories.

200 Heaton Road

The building itself is interesting. Visitors to the Butterfly Cabinet will testify that it’s a fair size. It incorporates what were originally numbers 1 and 3 King John Street and there have been various alterations over the years both to turn the three houses into one address or convert them back into separate flats.

The business lives on

John Wilson only lived and operated a business on Heaton Road for a couple of years. By 1903, a Thomas Blackett had succeeded him. Thomas had been born and bred locally. In 1887, he ran a stationer’s shop at 117 Shields Road. In his early forties, he was living at 31 North View and his shop had moved to 73 Shields Road. By 1895, he was still running the same shop although he had moved house again to 6 Guildford Place. But by 1901, his line of business had changed completely. Thomas was now a wine and spirit manufacturer and, as well as the now converted shop on Shields Road, he had shops in Heaton Hall Road (21), Jesmond, Sandyford and the west end. He was living at 23 Heaton Hall Road with his wife, Jane, six sons and daughters and a servant. Thomas Blackett died in 1912, leaving what was a fair sized estate of almost £15,000. The business he has built up lived on though. 200 Heaton Road didn’t change hands for another 20 years.

Sweets and buns

In the early 1930s, new flats were created at 200A and B and the shop became a confectioner’s, called firstly Burton’s and then Steel’s. Steel’s survived through the Second World War although, possibly in response to sugar rationing, by the end of the war it had been turned into a baker’s, part of a small chain which also had shops in Jesmond and Sandyford. Some older residents might even remember it?

A long time dyeing

In 1950 the shop changed character again. John Bradburn, originally from Ipswich, had started a business in the centre of Newcastle way back in 1831. At that time, he described himself as a ‘velvet, silk and woollen dyer’. By 1881, when he was 71 years old, he employed 6 men, 5 boys and 7 women. He died in 1890 but, as with Blackett’s, his business continued to thrive and 60 years later it expanded into Heaton. By this time, the firm was described as ‘dyers and cleaners’ and had branches in the west end and in Gosforth. Later a shop was opened at 265 Chillingham Road. The company’s office was at 55 Shields Road. In the early 1970s, however, after 140 years, the company seems to have closed completely.

Can you help?

Here the trail goes cold until recent years when first Belle and Herb and then The Butterfly Cabinet made the corner of Heaton Road and King John Street one of Heaton’s favourite haunts. Can you help us fill the gaps in our knowledge ? If you have any information, memories or photographs of 200 Heaton Road, please get in touch. You can either post a comment above this article: click on ‘Leave a reply’ just below the title. Or alternatively, email Chris Jackson.

Will Ye Buy Ma Fresh Fish?

On Wednesday 11 December, Hazel Graham and Hilary East will give a visual talk on the life of the Cullercoats fishwife with traditional live music, a demonstration of Northumberland and Durham clog dancing and a display of traditional costumes and creels. If you’re wondering whether this is relevant to Heaton, here’s an extract from Jack Common’s Kiddar’s Luck:

Though milk and bread were front door deliveries, greengrocery and fish and coal came to the back door. Sometimes for days on end, the children would spend all their time in the back lane, in and out of each other’s yards, sitting on the steps or swinging on the lamp posts. Down here came the Cullercoats fishwives crying ‘Caller Herrin’ in that season and otherwise ‘Fresh fish, hinny, straight from the sea’. They wore their traditional dress of dark blue which so well set off the biscuit tan of arm and face, the salt-white hair, and they were like caryatids walking under the great baskets they carried on the heads.

And this postcard was published by Alexander Denholm Brash, who between 1905 and 1910 kept a bookshop, stationer’s and circulating library at 92 Heaton Road. It was posted in October 1913. Jack Common was born in 1903 in nearby Third Avenue. Kiddar’s Luck covers the period from his birth until he left Chillingham Road School in 1917.

Postcard of Cullercoats fishergirls, published by Alexander Brash

The event will take place at the Corner House Hotel on Heaton Road. As usual, please book for the talk to ensure you’re not disappointed. We’ll restrict numbers so that we have room for tables to contribute to a social atmosphere – as befits the time of year! But as usual, please be in your seat by 7.15 so that we can offer any unclaimed places to anyone on the waiting list or who comes on spec. To book, contact Maria Graham: maria@heatonhistorygroup.org/ 0191 2150821 / 07763 985656

92 Heaton Road

The shop in the premises now occupied by Pizzeria Uno has been through many changes of ownership since it opened in 1897.

The first proprietor was Henry Dryden Crowe, a stationer. By this time Henry was in his early fifties and before going into business, he had been a Free Methodist Minister, work he continued, at least in the early days, even while running the stationers. He was born in Darlington and had held positions in the church in various places, including Lincolnshire and Tynemouth, but by 1891 was living in Stannington Avenue, Heaton with his wife, Annie, and their three children. By 1901, although he was running the Heaton shop, he was living in North Shields and in 1902 he took on a business partner, the much younger Alexander Denholm Brash, then aged 27. By 1905 Brash became the sole proprietor of what he variously described as a bookshop, stationer’s and circulating library. He also ran an ‘artistic stationer’s’ in the County Hotel Buildings opposite Newcastle Central Station.

90 Heaton Road

Alexander Denholm Brash’s booksellers, stationers and circulating library

Brash’s is second right in the above picture. The confectioner’s next to it on the right of the photograph is what is now Clough’s sweet shop.

Postcard legacy

Alexander Brash had been born in Nottingham in 1875. His father was a Wesleyan minister and as a result, the family moved frequently during Alexander’s childhood and adolescence. In the 1891 census, aged 17, Alexander was described as a draper’s assistant. The family were living in London at this time, but by 1901 they had moved to Newcastle (Elswick) and Alexander was a stationer’s assistant. We don’t know whether he was already working for Henry Crowe, but it’s certainly possible and we can make an educated guess that the families knew each other through the church, Wesleyans and Free Methodists being closely aligned.

Although he only owned 92 Heaton Road for around 5 years, Alexander Brash left an enduring legacy. The early twentieth century was the height of the popularity of picture postcards. The Post Office authorised them in 1894 but until 1902, any message had to be written on the front, underneath or around the photograph.

Alexander was alive to the opportunities created by longer messages being permitted on the back. There were multiple postal collections and deliveries a day at this time and people used postcards to arrange same day meetings, much as we might use the phone or a text message now.

Brash published and sold many cards depicting mainly NE and Yorkshire scenes. Examples of the Brash Series, with its distinctive style, can still be found on Ebay and in secondhand shops today and include local images.

Green Water Pool, Jesmond Vale. Postcard published by Alexander Denholm Brash

Green Water Pool, Jesmond Vale

Jesmond Dene, 'Brash series'

Jesmond Dene, ‘Brash series’

Brash Jesmond Dene

Jesmond Dene

Alexander Denholm Brash only stayed in Newcastle for a few years. By the time of the 1911 census, he was described as a librarian and he lived in Paddington, London and worked for Boots. His granddaughter’s husband, Michael Venter, has kindly provided us with some information about Brash’s later life. Alexander married Enid Armstrong, the granddaughter of the Great Western Railway locomotive engineer, Joseph Armstrong. Enid’s father, John, was Divisional Locomotive Superintendent of the Paddington Division, where one of his duties was to supervise the running of the royal train. Like the Brashes, the Armstrong family were Methodists.

Alexander and Enid, a ‘nature study teacher’, emigrated to Cape Town, where Alexander was involved in the opening of the first Juta bookshop. (Juta is the oldest academic publisher in South Africa). They later returned to the UK to raise a family. Alexander eventually died in Llandudno in 1943.

Meat, hats and sewing machines

Between 1907 and 1921, the shop at 92 Heaton Road changed hands five times. It briefly remained a stationers, run by John P Scott, before being taken over by Eastman’s, a large chain of butchers, which had over 20 shops across Tyneside. At the outbreak of World War 1, the shop became a milliner’s owned by James W Doughty. And a year later, the shop changed hands again, this time becoming a branch of what was then one of the biggest brands in the world, the Singer Sewing Machine Company. The sewing machine company’s highly successful business model was based on the machines being affordable via HP and a network of local service engineers which gave customers confidence that their purchases would have a long life. We don’t know why the Heaton Road branch was so short-lived but the next proprietor had much more staying power.

Forty years in footwear

Ernest Marshall Harmer was born in Hackney, London in 1879. His father, who originated from Norfolk, described himself in the 1901 census as a self-employed shoe and boot manufacturer but Ernest at this time, aged about 22, was described as an engineer’s turner.

By 1906, however, Ernest had relocated to Newcastle, was living at 17 Heaton Road and had a boot makers business in a corner shop at 1A Cheltenham Terrace. His business expanded. By 1909, he had an additional shop in Victoria Buildings and had married Yorkshire-born typist, Elizabeth Fannie Wilson, the daughter of an auctioneer’s clerk by then living in Jesmond. Ernest soon bought a shop at 259 Chillingham Road, where he and Elizabeth lived. He took over at 92 Heaton Road in 1921. By 1927, he’d moved his own family to the more upmarket Coquet Terrace and was still running two cobbler’s shops. After World War 2, he downsized but was still running the Heaton Road shop in 1950 at the age of 71 and 44 years after opening his first Heaton business. Ernest died in 1957 leaving almost £10,000 in his will, a sizeable sum then.

Keeping Heaton clean

The next business to occupy the premises was also comparatively long lived. In 1953, it became one of Newcastle’s first laundrettes. The first UK self-service laundry had only opened four years before in Queensway, London. When the Heaton shop opened, Laundrettes (Newcastle) Ltd had one other shop in Adelaide Terrace in the west end. Branches in Jesmond, Gosforth and Gateshead were soon to follow and it had a presence in Heaton Road for another 20 years.

Can you help?

If you know more about any of the people mentioned here, remember Harmer’s shoe shop or the laundrette, can tell us what came between the laundrette and Pizzeria Uno or have any photographs of 92 Heaton Road, please get in touch. In fact, we’re interested in any historic photographs of Heaton shops and to hear your memories.