Hinton’s had a complicated way of paying

WIRED ... Hinton's operated a complicated cash system.
WIRED ... Hinton's operated a complicated cash system.

IT contrasts sharply with, when now, you can put your own shopping through a till and pay for it.

I’m talking about the system some stores had, years ago, of transactions only being dealt with in a cash office, to and from which the money, change etc flew back and forth in a series of tubes.

It was a real Heath Robinson arrangement, even more bizarre than the series of balls and chutes which you can see at Beamish Museum.

Reevel Alderson

It’s recalled by my friend and former Shields lad Reevel Alderson, now in Scotland, who enjoyed seeing the picture featured recently of the old Miller and Co’s grocery shop on the corner of Fowler Street and Keppel Street in Shields – latterly Riddick’s shoe shop, before its closure.

Says Reevel: “Like you, I remember it as Hinton’s, when there was a complicated system of overhead wires along which containers were sent from the counters at the front, to the cash office, which was raised up at the back of the shop.

“A bill and the payment would be sent whizzing by the sales assistant across the store to the other side, with the change and a receipt sent back.

“It was a real Heath Robinson arrangement, even more bizarre than the series of balls and chutes which you can see at Beamish Museum.

“And it was considerably less sophisticated than the series of vacuum tubes used in Binns’ department store in King Street.”

This is a nice picture of the Fowler Street-Keppel Street junction, with Hinton’s on the corner (where they had been since the late 1950s), but also probably as evocative for the shop sign of Image Records over there, where Thomas Cook is now.