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Memories of a South Shields pawn broker

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PAWNBROKERS disappeared from our streets for some years but have made a return within the last decade or so.

But how remarkable to have a reader with a direct link to one featured the other night from almost the turn of last century - with an insight, too, into how such places were a lifeline to folk on their uppers.

This was Freeman’s pawnshop, seen here, which stood on the corner of Waterloo Vale and Chapter Row, in Shields - close to, if not actually on the site of the recently-demolished eastern end of the old Gazette building.

Opposite, on the right, was Chapter Row Methodist Church, which was demolished after the last war because of air raid damage.

I’ve been hearing from John Graham who was greatly interested in the piece on Freeman’s, as it turns out to have been where his mother got her first job after leaving school.

Says John: “She told me it was open six days a week, until eleven o’ clock at night on a Saturday.

“She often used to tell me about a man who pawned his suit every Monday and redeemed it every Friday, until it was so well-worn it wasn’t worth anything.

“She left there to go into service for the Kipling family in London - Kipling the writer, that is.”