Friends visited specially so they could go to our shops.
Later on, Longbenton had a very busy shopping centre because there were so many people living nearby, but at first, when people first started to move in, there were no shops and people had to go over to South Gosforth or Benton to do their shopping. This was quite a walk when you had young children, although later there was an excellent bus service. The area was more farms than anything else and you could watch the trams coming for miles before you left the house to get to the stop. We often went to Henzell’s Farm for eggs and milk by the jug, and there was also Balliol College Farm.
At that time there were a procession of travelling shops, including those from Cramlington Co-operative Society and Chadwick’s, which sold grocery items. Also, although there were lots of babies and young children there was no purpose built clinic, until later on. Mothers used to go to ‘The Hut’, which temporarily housed the ante-natal and welfare (and doubled up as a bingo hall on some evenings).
When the shopping centre was built we had a wonderful selection of shops, cafes and other services like the baby clinic. We would often go from the baby clinic to have a cup of tea, all young mums together. The Woolworth’s store was magnificent, then there was a Co-operative Stores with grocery and a separate butchers, as well as two other butchers. There was a Thompson’s Red Stamp Store, which was self-service, and also a Lipton’s and Fine Fare. In the centre of the shopping centre was a beautiful fountain. There were shoe shops and a café above the Hadrian. Friends used to visit us specially to go round the shops.
The library bus used to come until we got our own branch and, early on, instead of a doctor’s surgery there was a delegated house that had a phone, where you could ring the doctor if you needed one.