Remembering the delights of T&G Allan’s store

Memories of Darth Vader, pocket money-spending and fragrant erasers came flooding back for more than 17,000 of you when we featured a photo of a South Shields “Aladdin’s cave” shop – namely T&G Allan.

By Peter French
Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 8:37 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th February 2019, 8:45 am
Shoppers outside T & G Allan's store in King Street in  May 1977
Shoppers outside T & G Allan's store in King Street in May 1977

Taken in May 1977, the picture of the King Street store, prompted dozens of comments on the Gazette’s Facebook page. 
When asked what you would have bought there, this is what you said.

Sarah Hallimond posted: “Stationery or down stairs to the toys” while Lynn Mckenna said: “Everything if you had the money, it was an Aladdin’s cave. Nice memories.”

Star Wars' Darth Vader popped into T&G Allan's shop in King Street in Memory Lane social flow August 1983. From left: David Wardle, Lee Foster, Graham Hunter, Ben Alexander, Stewart Cross, Victoria Watson and Paul Kolster.

Helen Embleton McKerill described it as her “favourite pocket money shop, you can never have too many pencil cases” with Sheryl Davison saying: “I loved this shop, I used to buy my stationery and I got my cookery basket from here” while Gav Smith also bought “most of my stationery there as a kid and a knights play dress-up kit”.

Jon Michael Matson told how he “loved going downstairs and buying an Airfix model kit with my pocket money” while Jonathan Miller-Cole posted: “Used to love going there with my great aunt from Boldon on the 537 bus.”

Christopher Moyse explained that his mam worked there and “I used to get a new GI Joe every Saturday”.

Christine Bonar recalls buying toys at T&G Allan and “then worked there for a while in 1995” while Sharon Yorston posted: “Loved this shop, my Auntie Irene worked there, and I remember on pancake day, gathering in King Street to watch them race against other shops in an egg and spoon race.”

John Heston told how “I bought a “Fonz Is Cool” badge there in about 1977. It was massive, about the size of a saucer” .

Sandra Douglas also got badges from there – featuring members of the Bay City Rollers – along with dressing-up dolls.

Karen Kennedy remembers that “the rubbers that had a nice smell” something which so many other readers, including Gillian Ledger, Wayne Crawford and Wendy Bullivant, among others, recollect.

Mark Kelly recalls buying “Star Wars toys in the 80s. I remember going to a book signing in the shop for The Return of the Jedi, some random guy in a Darth Vader costume signed my book, I still have it” while David Carden tells how he “met Darth Vader there”.

Gillian Ledger took to Facebook to say: “Loved this shop, could always spend your pocket money in no time. Smelly rubbers, pens, pencils; the list was endless” while Julie Watson added: “Every year, in the Christmas school hols, I would go with my friend Judith Richardson and buy Christmas presents before having lunch upstairs. Our favourite dessert was always pineapple fritters and syrup.”

Karen Ratcliffe’s favourite buys were: “Barbies, individual marbles, novelty rubbers, fortune telling fish and Point Horror books” while Suzanne Jensen purchased a “pencil tin, pencils, sharpener and a squirrel rubber”.

Kathleen Ashby Holt was another admirer, saying: “I loved that shop especially the art and craft stuff” as did Carole Gutcher who posted: “loved that shop. Used to by my art stuff there.”

Alison Campbell got in touch to say: “This shop was great, used too spend my pocket money in here” while Leanne Ford said: “Me and my sister used to love this shop! Every Saturday, armed with our pocket money, coming out with shed loads of stationery!”

It’s amazing how a photo can bring forth so many memories. Take Marie Olley, for example, she recalls how: “I bought a lovely Xmas bauble for my tree from there...still put it on every year. Was a great shop” while Christine Carville also speaks of festive links, having bought “a beautiful Christmas decorations every year”.

Margaret Baister-Snowball remembers buying: “air mail paper to write to my husband when he was away at sea, then pocket money toys for the children” and Ann Hemmer recollects how “we got our wedding invitation’s printed from here in 1989”.

Julie Hindmarsh would buy “book, toys and stationery. Loved the shop. Got my confirmation book there” while Allison Lynn Mcgow purchased “greetings cards; my wedding invitations were ordered from here.”

Lianne Douglas wrote: “It was my favourite shop as a kid! Loved the stationery and books especially but also liked looking at the ornaments etc upstairs.”

The shop was obviously popular with both boys as girls as Michael Bianchi remembers “buying Subbuteo teams there” and Craig Stephenson “permanent markers and Airfix models”.

Annette Gray was another former customer who took the time to contact the Gazette. She recalls buying “fancy gifts for grandmas. Great toys. And my wedding stationery” while Glen Blackwood recalls getting “toys from down stairs”, as did Paul Harry Harrison who declares: “Best toy shop ever down stairs.”

Treena Marshall listed some of her favourite purchases from T&G Allan ... “Barbie’s, Fairie Glen dolls clothing, rubbers and pens, oh I loved that shop” as Clare Waldron who said: “Loved this shop, back to school things”.

Graeme Fenwick writes of “birthday cards, Parker pens, books, wrapping paper” while Mags Burns mentions “stationery, always loved a brand new writing pad and fountain pen” and Julie Anne Stephenson talks of “visits with my nana who’d often buy me stationery”.

It is a testament to the shop and its staff that so many people took the time to sing its praises.

Caroline Marie Codling declared “Ah my fave shop”; Steven Lomas said: “I loved that shop”; Anne Wilson wrote: “Remember it well” and Shahanoor Choudhury agrees, adding “my favourite shop”.

Gav Lovell recalls lucky dip bags while Sheila Tebble Victoria Plumb dolls and rubbers, with Sharon Porter bringing “scented erasers for my collection” to mind.

Ann Gilmour speaks of “Pens, cards and my diary. Was so sad when it closed” while Kathleen Mcalister comments: “My fav shop for cards back then” and

Kay Mclachlan reminds Joshy that it was “yours and grandmas favourite Thursday shop”.

Lesley Gosling also bought books, cards and writing materials; loved it” while Jane Sewell got Thomas the tank engine trains from there.

Finally a timely reminded from Dawn Robinson who recalls – buying “my first Valentine’s card” from there.