Helping to shape the future of Shields

Colin Luke (left), wearing a deerstalker, shows a gathering of people a model of the new Be Modern Ltd. factory.
Colin Luke (left), wearing a deerstalker, shows a gathering of people a model of the new Be Modern Ltd. factory.
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Thanks to reader David Fall who got in touch after seeing the photo of people gathered around a model of the “new” Be Modern Ltd factory which was being built at West Approach Road.

David said that along with the company’s managing director Mr Sandford Goudie and other named personnel, the picture also included his ex-boss Colin Luke.

Mr Luke, who is on the left hand side of the photo (wearing a deerstalker hat) was a very well-known architect who worked from offices in Fowler Street, South Shields.

David said he worked at those offices for some four or five years while “articled” (a form of apprenticeship) with the firm of architects.

“I worked there with a chap called Bob Carruthers, whose father was the chief superintendant of police with the South Shields Police Force.

“Colin used to do a lot of work for Sandford Goudie, and we did the drawing for the La Strada nightclub in town.

“He was responsible for designing a lot of the buildings in South Shields, including one of the solicitors in Coronation Street.”

David said Colin Luke, who died about five years ago, also had offices in Stanley, where his parents lived.

“He did a lot of work in the Stanley area,” explains David, who fondly recalled his time at the Fowler Street office.

“I used to set the fires away, the old paraffin heaters,” he said.

“They were happy days. I used to pedal to work, and had to carry my bike up the stairs.

“I got £6 a month, tax free, when I started.”

After that, David joined the Washington Development Corporation, as an architect, before moving on to the local authority, Vaux Breweries and Trust Inns.”

David, who retired four years ago, said Colin, was a very active member of the local Rotary organisation.

“ He was very well known in the town and elsewhere. He was a lovely fellow and a great character.”

Another reader, Mrs Dorothy Wilson, of Whitburn, has been in touch to share her magical memories of dances in South Shields.

Dorothy writes: “What a lot of memories came flooding back about dancing in South Shields. Early 1950-plus we had a lot to choose from. You could go out every night dancing.

“My favourites were The Crown and Majestic, plus Bailies, in Beach Road, where there was only records, all the latest top 20. It was run by Stan Henry and his wife Avril.

“It consisted of two rooms, made into one basement. To get there I travelled on the economic bus using my weekly ticket, which cost me five shillings in old money, two or three shillings to get in the dance. Quite a small amount to these days.

“Girls dressed in black skirts with a vent on the sides or a back vent, just enough to show your slip. Wow! Nylons with a fancy seam up the back of your legs and, not forgetting, your whirlpool bra, from Glassburgs, a small shop next to Binns store.

“We girls had a whirlpool bra long before Madonna wore one. Polo neck, T-shirts and waspie belt to complete our outfits.

“Then it was a rush to get to Ocean Road bus stop, after a push and shove you got on the bus. What a night out we all had for a few shillings.”

Meanwhile, Dr AT Day emailed to say: “I am trying to discover facts about a concert party called The Jazz Bows that played in Shields in the late 1920s/1930s.

“My maternal grandfather was the prime mover of the group, but sadly our family has no information about them beyond the name.

“My grandfather was an active community-minded person in Shields, crewed for the South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade, and had distinguished service with the St John. He was also a member of the Magic Circle.

“Do you have archive material from that period?”

Although nothing springs to mind, I’m sure readers may be able to help. If you can assist Dr Day in his quest, please get in touch with me.