The day Star Wars villain Darth Vader came to South Shields

Darth Vader visits South Shields in 1982.
Darth Vader visits South Shields in 1982.

As movie fans count down the days to the release of the new Star Wars film, The Last Jedi (out on December 15), I thought it was appropriate to post this old photo of one of science fiction/fantasy’s most iconic “baddie” Darth Vader paying a visit to South Shields.

The picture, taken in 1982, captured Lord Vader surrounded by young fans as he dropped into a local newsagent’s.

Def Leppard in concert at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield on 6th June 1993

Def Leppard in concert at Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield on 6th June 1993

It not only prompted many of you to take to Facebook to recollect the occasion, it also caused something of a “war of words” as to where Darth Vader appeared and the time of the year of his visit.

Thankfully, with a little help from the Force (well, the information on the back of the photo!) I can settle the various disputes, but firstly, here’s what you remember about meeting the master of the Dark Side.

Margaret McKenzie took to social media to reveal: “Took my son Matthew to this event, he was hysterical, terrified, but at three years old, who knows what was going on in his mind?”

Phil Gibson said: “That was in T&G Allen’s, I remember being there.

“It was the middle of summer and the poor bloke was dressed head to foot in black, and the carpet was soaked in sweat.

“The shop was packed as well, although the number of people meant there weren’t many sales happening.”

But others were not so sure, as Kev Connolly argues: “Middle of summer. Are you sure? Little lad on the left has his Christmas jumper on.”

Stu Rounthwaite counters by say: “And that other kid has shorts and T-shirt on. Christmas, are you sure?”

And what about that mention of T&G Allen’s?

Margaret McKenzie said: “It was T&G Allens, up stairs in the shop” something which Lee Brown disagreed with, saying: “Not T&G, it was Carters. Didn’t know they had an open door upstairs, then again it was Darth Vadar, so he must have used the dark side to levitate us all up.

“Although who cares, we met him and were buzzing!”

I can confirm that the picture was taken at Carters ... on July 26.

And what about The Last Jedi?

Ian Coult said: “A New Hope, the start will always be epic.”

Meanwhile, local film-maker Gary Wilkinson has been in touch to tell me about the latest piece of research he is carrying out for his music blog.

The blog, called Vinyl Junkies, encourages people to list their favourite records.

“Vinyl Junkies include a list of records which stand out from all the others,” said Gary.

“Can you remember where you bought it, how much for and when? What memory does it hold? When the band came to town on tour did you go and watch them live? There are hundreds of reasons why we like a certain song. Vinyl Junkies is looking for the stories behind them.”

Now Gary is looking to focus on Def Leppard’s Tyneside gigs.

“I’m researching early dates for Def Leppard gigs in Newcastle. Did you go to any of them? Any extra information and images would be much appreciated.

“Any comments could be added to the Alikivi music blog. https://garyalikivi.com

The dates Gary is interested in are: Mayfair 10th August 1979; Mayfair headliner Sammy Hagar 13th September 1979; Mayfair headliner AC/DC 26th October 1979;

University support Tarot 26th January 1980; Mayfair support Witchfynde 29th February 1980; City Hall support Magnum & Tygers Of Pan Tang 20th April 1980; City Hall support Lionheart & More 18th July 1981 and Mayfair support Rock Goddess 25th February 1983.