A child’s magical experience
I have very fond memories of North Street, as it used to be. For some reason, my associations are mostly with winter days, when the shops and lights seemed so cosy and welcoming. My earliest memories are probably of the Christmas Grotto at Hanningtons in the 1950s – what a magical experience for a young child. My mother and I also regularly met my grandmother on winter afternoons in the Lyons teashop, which was, as I remember, fairly near the Princes News Theatre. In Lyons teashops, you could get delicious things like poached egg on toast – perfect for a cold winter’s day. In the summer, we met up outdoors at the Pavilion Gardens tea place.
Watching the demolition
In the 1960s, when I left school, my first full-time job was at The Prudential, a big red brick building on the left side as you went towards Castle Square. I remember looking out of the windows as it got dark on winter afternoons, and watching the street lamps and the shop windows light up. While I worked there, we moved into a new building a bit further down the road and then had the strange experience of seeing our old offices demolished, with those big swinging spherical balls that crashed into the walls and knocked them down.
Your money was whooshed away
Later, I worked at the District Bank, also in North Street, on the same side, which I don’t think exists any more. The shops in North Street were wonderful. There was Hanningtons, as I’ve mentioned, and Vokin’s, where you could buy cheerful cotton fabrics to make skirts or dresses – often for a compulsory Domestic Science project at school. There was always a wonderful display of fabrics, most of them beyond the range of my pocket in those days. Vokin’s had one of those vacuum tubes (if that’s the right term) where the bill and your money was whooshed away overhead and your change came whizzing back a few minutes later. Happy Days.
Do you remember North Street in the 1960s? What shops can you remember? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.