Hartleyburn Avenue Shops
Posted by AJG on May 17, 2020, 11:11 pm
I have been thinking a lot about the shops that used to be on the corner of Hartleyburn Avenue and Victoria Road West when I was growing up (early 1970s). When I was young my mother would do a lot of our shopping at this group of shops as well as the ones on Birtwhistle Avenue. A trip “down the Newtown” to go to Walter Wilson and the other shops, or up “to the Town” on a Saturday was a much bigger occasion. |
Of the two shops above (all images in this post are from Google Maps), the left-hand one used to be the Hartleyburn Post Office, which was a full-service post office as well as selling stationery and a limited selection of food (mostly of the snack variety) and hardware. I can remember one summer holidays when I would go there with my friends and buying a brand of fizzy pop called “Merry Fizz”, which was unusual in that it came not in a can or bottle but in a kind of plastic tube which would fold flat once empty. Incidentally, I can find no trace of this product anywhere on the Internet, nor anyone else who remembers it!
The right-hand shop was always a newsagent, first Ashman’s, then Ramshaw’s, then owned by another family who never changed the Ramshaw sign. I also remember it being called “Hartleyburn Newsagency” at some point. This was where I would go to get my comics as a youngster. As well as newspapers, comics and magazines, it sold sweets and bakery goods and other groceries such as boiled ham and pease pudding. I think they also may have had a small selection of gift-type items and toys. I can remember us getting our bread from “the corner shop” as we called it, and the aforementioned bread being extremely good!
As can be seen in the photograph from Google Maps, the newsagent looks to still be a newsagent, though a chain one rather than privately owned, and the post office is now a sandwich shop. I think the name is now Hartleyburn Deli rather than the name in the photograph.
The biggest shop on the corner was the Co-Op, which people would usually refer to as simply “The Store”. This was a fully-fledged supermarket where you could buy pretty much anything you needed to feed and take care of your family. From tins of soup to fresh bananas to toilet roll, the Store had it. Also, with every purchase you received a number of Co-Op stamps according to how much you spent. These could be stuck into a book and later redeemed for cash – the Co-Op “dividend”. They also had their own brand of many foods which were cheaper than the brand-name versions. I distinctly remember my mother saying that their brand of “99” tea was better than any of the big names, and from what I recall she was right. Next door to the main Co-Op store was, I believe, a butcher, but I may be wrong about that. The two shops are a flooring merchant and a funeral director now. The area in the photo above where the red car is parked used to be a little overgrown patch of land, which as kids we used to refer to as “the little Store Garden”, the reason for this name being what was on the other side of the Co-Op.
Where this nice house stands, on the corner of Hartleyburn Avenue and Lambley Crescent, used to be one of the places we would regularly play as young children. If you look at the photograph above, right next to the driveway of the house, between it and the next house along, there is another driveway. This leads to the loading dock of the old Co-Op building, presumably now the loading dock for the flooring supplies shop. Next to that driveway used to be a large (big enough to build a house on!) patch of unused land surrounded by a high wall. Completely overgrown with long grass and plants, we used to call it “the Store Gardens” and it would represent the Jungle or the surface of an alien planet in many of our childhood games. If we were exceptionally daring, we would try to climb up on top of the wall, though any passing adult would have told us to get down “before you break your bloody neck!”
The Store Gardens was also a good place for finding occasional treasures like a hubcap or windscreen wiper from a car, or alternatively hazards like stinging nettles, broken bottles or dog turds.
I only have faint memories of the final shop on the corner. It is now a private house, though if you look carefully at the structure, I believe you can still see traces of the old commercial property.
I have two memories of this building as a shop, which may in fact be two different aspects of the same memory. One is of it being a general dealer or grocery store that was referred to by people as “the Speciality Shop”. I have a very faint memory of being in there with my mother and her buying something that was measured out from a big container, maybe some kind of dry goods. I also recall it as being “the Vivo” and being a small chain grocery store, kind of like the VG Shops used to be. In one or another of these incarnations it may have been owned by the Welsh family?
Anyway, it’s interesting to think of what a vibrant little collection of local shops there used to be on this one street corner, and how other areas such as Birtwhistle Road, Mountbatten Avenue and Finchale Road had their own similar little parades of shops that the local residents used to be able to walk to in order to do much of their daily or weekly shopping. A far cry from the way shopping is today!