Christmas in South Tyneside: Remembering the Christmas shops we loved as borough builds up for festive season

With preparations for the festive season starting earlier every year, we have been taking a trip down memory lane for those tell-tale signs of Christmas cheer across South Tyneside.

While there are now just six weeks to wait until an exciting visit from Santa Claus, many would prefer to see the festive build-up firmly confined to the month of December (or indeed just the days before the 25th itself). But with so much to organise for the big day – from cards and presents to a delicious dinner and everyone’s favourite tipples on tap – many of us have to start with plenty of time to spare.

Whether you’ve grown up to be a savvy shopper or a “buy-it-all-at-the-last-minute” type of customer, most of us can agree that there was ONE shop from your younger days that summed up the magic and sparkle of the Christmas season.

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As South Tyneside families begin to get swept up in the excitement of the festive season, we asked about their Christmas preparations – and the one business in the borough that was always on their list for shopping.

The best Christmas shops from days gone by

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Kerry Steele: “Tom's at Laygate, Binns and Woolworths.”

Angela Armstrong: “Darke’s the chemist in Frederick Street when I was little for Christmas presents, bath cubes and a soap on a rope that looked and smelled like a lemon. I must have been 7 or 8.”

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A heavy queue at Binns in December 1975 as shoppers hit the sales. Was Binns one of your favourites?

Jimmy Campbell: “Allan's at Laygate.”

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Gillian Gibson: “Binns and Fenwicks.”

Bev Forster: “T&G Allan’s.”

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There were also lots of shout-outs for Binns, Rippon’s Toy Shop and Woolworths – very much missed and never forgotten.

Who's for a wander to Woolworths? The branch in Jarrow's Viking Centre, pictured in 2008.
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How do you start your Christmas preparations?

Emma Herbertson: “Put the decorations up.”

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Sue Venus Curtis: “Make lists upon lists of what I'm getting everyone.”

Pauline Metcalfe: “Make cakes.”

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A trip to Woolworths in King Street in 1952 - what a great view from the past.

Jayne Ramsey: “Listen to The Pogues.”

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Madeline Oley: “Buy chestnuts for the stuffing as they sell out quickly.”

However you and your loved ones prepare for the Christmas season, we hope you have a happy, safe and stress-fee build-up to December 25. South Shields will be lit up for Christmas from Wednesday, November 23 with switch-ons also happening in Jarrow on November 25, then Hebburn on November 28.

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One last trip to BHS ... another shop you loved for your pre-Christmas buying.