'Sad but unavoidable': Your thoughts as WH Smith becomes latest store to close in King Street, South Shields

Gazette readers shared their memories after the doors of the WH Smith store in King Street, South Shields, closed its doors for the last time on Saturday.

Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 7:00 am
Closure of WHSmith, King Street, South Shields.

In August, the retail giant announced its plans to call time on more than a dozen of its shops nationwide, including the South Shields outlet.

The town centre store finally shut its doors on Saturday, having traded on King Street for several decades.

At the time of the announcement WH Smith bosses said they were considering a ‘proposed restructure’ of the business in order to save around £19 million, putting approximately 1,500 jobs at risk.

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But within weeks the chain announced the closure of the South Shields store, although chiefs have not confirmed whether there were any redundancies.

On our Facebook page, Gazette reader Stephen Moran said the news of the closure was ‘sad but unavoidable’.

"South Shields has already started down the path of trying to be more of a leisure attraction,” he continued.

"Maybe King Street’s future lies more with that than being a shopping high street.”

The WH Smith announcement follows a number of big-name retailers in the town centre that have also shut their doors over the course of recent years.

Tessa Weightman said King Street is now like a ‘ghost town’.

She added: "Could get anything and everything down there, now I wouldn’t waste bus fare or my time.”

Linda Heslop similarly lamented the high-street closure, calling it ‘Another nail in the coffin of our town’.

The news prompted Sharon Yorston to reminisce of her school days, when she used to visit the shop to purchase books and other study items.

She said: “Loved looking at the stationary (sic) here.

"Once T&G Allen’s closed, used to go here for my pencil cases and stationary (sic) for school.

"Thought it was the bees knees back then 35 years back.”

A number of readers, however, felt the retailer was ‘overpriced’ and expressed surprise that the store in South Shields had lasted as long as it did.

"Don’t know how it’s lasted this long,” said Juliet Jules Costello.

"Plenty more shops should have stayed longer than this.”

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