Ted retires from fruitful family business spanning 84 years

Ted Hooper of Hooper's family fruit and veg business is to retire.
Ted Hooper of Hooper's family fruit and veg business is to retire.

The owner of a family-run business which has kept South Tynesiders supplied with fruit and vegetables for 84 years is bidding a fond farewell this weekend.

The Hooper family name has been synonymous with fruit and veg since founder Edward Hooper set up a shop in Frederick Street, South Shields, back in 1931.

Ted Hooper acts of master of ceremonies for Muhammad Ali's visit to the Northumbria Centre in Washington in 1977.

Ted Hooper acts of master of ceremonies for Muhammad Ali's visit to the Northumbria Centre in Washington in 1977.

Further outlets came and went over the years in the town’s Harton Village, and in Dean Road and Highfield Road.

But the business has operated as a wholesaler, originally in Beach Road and latterly on St Hilda’s Industrial Estate, for the last 35 years.

Now Edward’s son, Ted, who turns 74 next month, has finally decided to call it a day.

The self-confessed workaholic, who hasn’t taken a holiday since 1990, is planning a well-deserved break with his wife Anne - after he undergoes a hip replacement operation next month.

And retirement will mean no more 6am starts at Gateshead wholesale market and 10pm finishes – six days of the week.

He said: “I vowed I would never come into the fruit trade, and served my time as an architectural ironmonger and builder’s merchant.

“In 1967 I went into nightclub business with the late Alfie Joseph, and when the betting and gaming laws changed in 1969 all the casinos closed, so I came into the fruit business, which by this stage my brother Malcolm was in.

“He went to play professional rock and roll guitar at the Reeperbahn bar in Hamburg.

“We had a shop in Dean Road and then I opened a shop in Highfield Road, and in 1980 I started wholesaling. In that year, I closed all the shops and have been a wholesaler ever since.

“I supply everybody - restaurants, old people’s homes, fish and chip shops - lots of outlets in South Tyneside and a few in Sunderland.

“It’s long hours but I like my work, and I’m sure I’ll be doing something else once I’ve had my operation.”

Ted has tried his hand at everything during a varied working and leisure life – even rubbing shoulders with a boxing great.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-one has been an active borough freemason for 40 years, and was a former manager of Ruperts nightspot in South Shields.

He said: “In my time I’ve been a disc jockey, I’ve managed rock and roll bands, I’ve been chairman of Boldon Colliery Brass Band, chairman of Perth Green Amateur Boxing Club and, in 1977, when Muhammad Ali came over here, he did an exhibition at the Northumbria Centre in Washington and I was master of ceremonies at the event. He was great,”

Michael Elwood is taking over the fruit and veg business as a going concern under the name Hooper’s, retaining loyal staff member Chris Hornby.