Recalling Masons the chemist in South Shields

Staff at Masons the chemists, in King Street, in 1959.
Staff at Masons the chemists, in King Street, in 1959.

Paying a visit to the chemist was often greeted with mixed emotions.

For the most part, you went there if you or someone you knew was poorly and needed medication.

But it wasn’t all about seeking a cure for a person’s ills. For the chemist shop also sold such sweet delights as barley sugar and liquorice strips.

As a child, it was also a fascinating place to explore, with its shelves tacked with strange and unusual items.

And the memories of chemists shops, here in South Shields and further afield, are sure to come flooding back thanks to this wonderful picture, supplied by reader John S Byer.

As Mr Byer explains, it features the staff of a very popular local chemists.

“I enclose a photo of Masons (the chemists), taken in King Street.

“It shows the directors and staff at Christmas, 1959, at which time I was pharmacy apprentice.

“To the best of my memory, included on the photo are, front, Margaret Fitzgerald, Iris Webb, Brenda Wills and Rosina Nessworthy; second row, John Stainsby, John Byers, Martha Bullock, Clifford Mason, Lily Houlsby and Hamilton Greenwood; back row, unknown, John Mason, unknown, John Toshack, John Robinson and Bob Miles.

“At that time, Masons also had pharmacies in Mile End Road (corner of Cleveland Street), Westoe Road (opposite Greenwoods Printers), and Ocean Road (corner of Shortridge Street).

“They also had branches throughout the North East, including Morpeth, Durham and Darlington.

“At Christmas time, one of Masons’ best sellers was Tarragona Wine, which retailed at three shilling and six pence (17.5p) per bottle or six shilling and nine pence (34p) for a flagon.

“It was a bit like port, and best diluted with lemonade before consumption.

“The best selling gift for men that year was a Brylcream dispenser (which cost twelve shillings and six pence (62.5p).”

What are your memories of Masons and the items it sold over the years?

Do you remember the wine mentioned by Mr Byer, and what about Brylcream?

At one time, men wouldn’t have crossed the doorstep without slaking their hair in the stuff. Were you a Brylcream kid, or were you more of a Brilliantine boy?

If you used to work in a chemist shop, please get in touch and tell us how the business has changed with the passing of time – with the introduction of new treatments and products.

Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment on our Facebook page.

Many of you took to social media to reminisce about a photograph of Jackson’s the tailors, taken in South Shields in October 1975.

Brian McKeown posted: “Always got my made-to-measure suits at Jacksons, tried others but not a patch on Jackson’s, really upset when they closed the business.”

Irene Egglestone recalls the shop, saying she got her husband’s wedding suit from there, “it had brown pin-striped flared trousers”.

Susan Sinclair said: “Got a lovely fitted tailor-made navy coat – thought I was the bee’s knees.”

Kath Eliot also had fond memories of Jackson’s, saying: “Got my hubby’s wedding suit from there, and you could pay weekly!” While Bernard Forrest took to social media to say “my tailor in the sixties, it was the best and had reasonable prices.”

Michael Sanderson got in touch to say he recalls the tailors, adding: “It was taken over by Phillip Green’s machine and shut”, while Dragan Armanski recalls Weaver and Wearer the tailors.

What are your memories of Jackson’s or Weaver and Weaver or any other tailors that used to trade here on South Tyneside? As ever, please get in touch with your thoughts about anything that has appeared in print or online. Also don’t hesitate to give me a shout with any suggestions you may have for future pages.