Hill’s the hardware shop was an Aladdin’s cave. It had a downstairs and an upstairs, just full of everything you would need to keep a house going.
Editor’s note: Barbara was born in 1933 and took part in the Hand in Hand Reminiscence project in 2008.
Although I was born in Peterborough I’ve lived in Wallsend for a long time now and I especially remember the old shops on the High Street. Hill’s the hardware shop was an Aladdin’s cave. It had a downstairs and an upstairs, just full of everything you would need to keep a house going. Outside there was always a display of buckets, brooms, etc. Downstairs was for everyday type things, but upstairs was for better stuff and you didn’t go up there very often.
There were a great many really nice shops on the High Street. Cornelius was a very posh shoe shop and then there was Benefit and Fairbairns, which were also shoe shops. L&M Todd was a beautiful hat shop, then there was Book’s for ladies clothes and the Fifty Shilling Tailors for gentlemen.
I used to buy my net curtains at Bon Marche’s. It had a really good curtain department, as well as other departments. Children’s wear and ladies’ wear were on the first floor and there was a lovely sweeping staircase up to the first floor. They also had a baker’s and confectionery shop, where you could buy beautiful cakes. At Christmas they would open up a showroom especially as a toy fair. You had to get into it from a doorway on either Laburnum Avenue or Park Road, I can’t remember which.