This mystery picture of Sixties socks is still proving a puzzle

Memory Lane   May 1967  shop shopping department store mens
Memory Lane May 1967 shop shopping department store mens

When it comes to posing questions involving old photos, featuring scenes of South Tyneside that we’ve posted on Facebook, getting to the truth of the matter is not always as simple as you would imagine, with readers often disputing the identity of the place pictured.

Thankfully, for the most part, the photographer’s caption on the back of the picture is usually enough to provide the answer.

However, not on this occasion. For the picture of the smartly dressed chap, choosing or arranging socks in a rather swish-looking clothes shop in May 1967, has lost its caption – so it’s a bit of a mystery.

And when posted online, prompting the question “where was this?” it brought in lots of different possible locations.

Margaret Lowrie, Graham Walton, Susan Sinclair, Beverley Joyce and Brian Anderson all plumped for Woods, in Ocean Road. Michelle Whale also came up with: “Thinking Woods shop.”

Agnes Noble, meanwhile suggested Jacksons the tailors, while Lisa Bassett and Clair Tink Brennan went for Greenwoods.

Other readers had a differing point of view, with Helen Scott, Joanne Howard, Jean Taylor and Julez Rutter all going for Binns, while David Heath threw Joplings into the ring.

Without a consensus of opinion, Susan Sinclair went back online to ask: “So what’s the answer then?”

Well sorry Susan, I really don’t know ... but, I’m hoping that one of our other readers can shed some light on the identity of the shop and perhaps even the name of the shopper or salesman.

Meanwhile, readers may be interested in a new book which is being published about the life and times of an old music hall “superstar” who lived in South Shields.

The book, Cat-Gut Jim. Ned Corvan’s Life & Times, about Ned Corvan, has been written by Dave Harker, and is the culmination of 50 years’ of research.

Dave, 70, started researching the book in 1967, saying:”It’s been a labour of love and a wonderful voyage of discovery.”

Corvan (1827 to 1865) was born in Liverpool to Irish parents and moved to Newcastle aged five, when his stonemason father helped to rebuild the city as part of Richard Grainger’s vision to turn it from a medieval town into one of the greatest regional capitals in the world.

In later life, he moved to South Tyneside, as Dave reveals.

“Ned lived in South Shields and ran Corvan’s Music Hall from 1864 to around 1867 in Wapping Street.

“Two of his most popular songs relate to events in South Shields: £4. 10s or, the Sailors’s Strike, supporting the 1851 seamen’s strike, and The New Mayor of South Shields, encouraging political enfranchisement in South Tyneside.”

Dave goes on to say that: “Ned was a great singer/songwriter, a virtuoso violinist and could also draw and paint.”

In his early years, Ned ran away from his apprenticeship as a sailmaker to join the legendary Billy Purvis’s shows in temporary marquees throughout North East England and the Borders.

“Ned’s big break came when he played the Royal Olympic Concert Hall, near Newcastle Central Station, in 1853.

“It held 2,800 people, and Ned went down a storm.

“Sadly, much working class history is not properly recorded, so it’s taken decades of painstaking work to piece together Ned’s life.

“The biggest regret is that there is a photograph of Ned out there that I have not located.”

Dave will be bringing his story of Ned Corvan to The Word, in South Shields, at 2pm on Monday, April 24, when there will be a local book launch and signing.

Cat-Gut Jim is also the basis for Mr Corvan’s Music Hall by playwright Ed Waugh, which tours the region in May and June.

For further information on Cat-Gut Jim and Mr Corvan’s Music Hall visit