Dicksons boss is proud his business is such a big part of South Tyneside's identity
The head of a family business has been looking back on its beginnings after its first ever shop was given an Â£80,000 makeover.
Dicksons has been a staple of South Tyneside since it was first opened in 1953 by the late Irwin and Helen Dickson.
The family butchers now has 28 – soon to be 30 – stores across the region, and its signature saveloy and pease pudding have become symbols of the borough.
Dicksons first opened in Prince Edward Road, the Nook, where it remains today.
The store’s £80,000 makeover is part of the company’s ongoing expansion programme.
It’s not only the first ever shop, but the flat above was also home to the young Dickson family.
Chairman Michael Dickson, son of Irwin and Helen, remembers peeling onions in the shop from the age of six.
He said: “I suppose I’ve been involved right from the beginning – they had me peeling onions when I was six.
“I lived above the shop with mam, dad, and my sister Christine until I was three.
“When my father died, we thought the business was a bit of a poison chalice and that it would have a short shelf-life without him.” Michael and Christine, who sadly passed away a few years ago, studied business and took over the reins,taking the company from strength to strength.
He added: “Chris did the hard stuff like paying all the bills and the staff.
“We had about 40 people working for us at the time and sorting all those wages out was a big task for a 16-year-old lass, but she was brilliant.
“Our two shops turned into 28, and that’ll soon be 30. Looking back at old photos like this does fill me with nostalgia.
“That first shop really was a family business, my aunt, uncle and granny were always pitching in to help.
“We’re not one of those faceless multinational companies and we’re proud to be part of South Tyneside. You can’t think of Shields without Colmans, Minchella and Dicksons and we couldn’t be happier.”