Fond memories of Christmas time at Binns in South Shields

A youngster has a chat with Santa in the Binns dept store grotto. Who remembers when cash tills were given as toys and plastic money. Its all done on the internet now.
A youngster has a chat with Santa in the Binns dept store grotto. Who remembers when cash tills were given as toys and plastic money. Its all done on the internet now.

Reader Mrs Dorothy Wilson has kindly written a wonderfully timely seasonal-spiced letter to Time Of Our Lives, recounting Christmas times at Binns department store in Shields from years gone by.

Here is her letter:

“Who remembers Binns, South Shields at Christmas?

“I worked there, early 1950, in the hardware department basement.

“I was a junior sales girl. “Getting the place ready for Santa was great.

“Binns had their own joiner shop, electrician shop and French polishers, all down the back lane, now part of Argos.

“Mr Johnson, head joiner, made all the gadgets for Santa’s grotto, which was in a tunnel basement where new goods were stored.

“Black curtains were put in front of the shelves to hide them from view, then fairy lights were put up. It was darkened, then elves, fairies etc, were there, some of which moved, and then Santa at the end.

“The kids loved it and so did we. We used to go and view it often before it was opened for children to visit.

“It was a busy time. Mr Lowes, the manager, used to come from his office, on the top floor, to have a look to see what Mr Johnson and his other joiners, plus electricians, had done.

“It was a different theme every year. It was a fairy land and the Santas were always lovely and friendly.

“After Christmas we got ready for the linen and white sale.

“Wow! When the doors in Fowler Street opened, the thud on the ceiling was terrific, people rushing to get their bargains. I was Miss Thompson then and my check book number was 241.

“I hope this makes a memory for some of the girls who worked in the hardware department.

“Our window for display was opposite the police building, in Kepple Street, all arranged by Miss Kennedy, plus a junior, me.

“Everything had to be carried upstairs through the wall paper department and upstairs to the display window.”

Mrs Dorothy Wilson (nee Thompson)

Parry Drive,

Whitburn.

• What are your memories of the Binns store in Shields?

What do you remember about Christmas time there - or the linen and white sale, as mentioned by Dorothy?

Perhaps you worked there? If you did, I’d love to hear from you and your memories of the place and the people.