Robinsons on the High Street. c1967

Robinsons Girls – these were typical shop assistants for the M Robinsons Group of Companies and they all had the same uniforms. This photo was taken in July 1967 in the basement of the store when it was the hardware, electrical, china and pots and pans area – no longer open to the public. The building is now occupied by Debenhams. Photo courtesy of Mr Alan Davis, Perth, Western Australia

31 thoughts on “Robinsons on the High Street. c1967

  1. Hello, its quite long time since I last contributed on Mathias Robinson’s of Stockton I worked in Mens Wear in the 1940-50s era, Ding Dong (Mr Bell) was their London trained manager. I was interviewed by Mr Cyril Robinson and he introduced me to Mr Bell my new chief. Mr Leslie Armour, was the Buyer and in charge of all Mens Wear but at that time all men were conscripted into the forces and Mr Armour only came in two days a week as he was Clerk to the Law Courts as his war job.
    Watching “Are you being Served” was just like Robinsons in those days. First Sales, Second Sales was the order of the hierarchy and you had to keep in line in those days.
    I was lucky doing Ready Mades, – suits, sports jackets, trousers etc, and of course inside leg measurements and measuring for suits. All clothing was on coupons 1 for a tie 26 for a suit. I used the cafe for lunch reading my paper and watching the world pass bye. Mr Cyril (Robinson) was very kind to me and loaned me a book entitled “The Endless Furrow” which was a story about farming and plowing a new furrow of each day of life. A kindness I never forgot, and each day of our lives is a new furrow. Despite my terrible times of illness with chest and heart I have just had my 90th Birthday and have two fine sons and five Grandchildren so don’t give up hope. I consider myself very lucky to be here.
    My Grandson Harry Kidd (Halifax Rugby) is picking my wife and I up for a run out to Stockton and Westgate in Weardale this weekend to view old family birth places and haunts in Norton where in was born I 1928.
    Reagards to all who remember me.
    J.Norman Kidd

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    • Hello. Are you any relation to one of the Kidds who was a mayor of Thornaby? Just cannot remember the proper names. Sandra Dover

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      • Sandradover – As far as I know we are not related to His Worship the Mayor of Thornaby. However my Uncle Alf Kidd had a Garage on Thornaby Road near the bottom of Thornaby Bank. He had two sites on Thornaby Road the moved more of less straight across the road from his first site next to a scrapyard and built a new garage with all new pumps. It was in use as a garage and accredited Agent for “Morris” cars from early 30’s until 1949. He then sold the garage and did private Hire before going to live in Yarm where he still did private hire. His Sister in Law Alice Kidd lived at the top of Thornaby bank overlooking the park. I think it was called Victoria Road. The only girl Sarah (Sally) nee Kidd also lived in Victoria Road. She had two sons Harry, and Joe with their Sister Marjory Kidd a well known singer around Teesside area.

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    • Norman, you mention a book ‘The endless Furrow. I have a book of poetry written by Charles Harland Thompson the farmer from South Road called ‘Reflections from the Furrows. Is yours written by him and I suppose you do remember him?

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      • Bob Irwin – Happy new year and Good Health after so many years. I am afraid I have forgotten the name of the writer of The Endless Furrow which is a pity because it was a good read. I can not remember Charles Harland Thompson of South Road? was that Norton. My Uncle Thomas Kidd lived on the top corner of Keithlands Avenue and South Road. They had quite a big family nearly all girls except he became a Flying Officer Alfred Kidd on Lancasters Alfred was killed on a raid over Germany in 1944. He was in 9 Bomber Group Linconshire.
        All the best,
        Norman

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        • Thompsons was a market gardener on South Road in Norton Norman, but only supplied vegetables to other stall holders and suppliers to the industry. The farm was on the left doing up South Road and almost opposite Albany Road.

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    • Yes I remember Walter Lythe very well, last time I spoke to him was in 1982 when I required a reference to be signed for my emigration to Australia. While I worked at Robinsons in 1965-67 he was Manager in charge of TV department including the service department which at first operated out of the workshop above the supoermarket warehouse. The workshop was next to electrical store maintenance the department I was in with my boss Bob Reay. The TV service moved into the small shop next door to Robinsons next to the Globe. The small shop become Robinsons record shop, with TV service out the back (one of the engineers was called Dave). We had to knock a hole through from Robinsons to gain rear access to the service department and the wall was about 34 inches thick if my memory serves me well. Walter was in my mind a quiet spoken, well mannered man who I got on very well with. I often wonder what happened to Bob Reay, he and Walter were always at each other with healthy banter. Sorry to hear of his passing – what age was he. How the years have slipped by.

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    • Nice comments Alan. Walter was 65 when he passed away but he developed m/s late 80s, you summed his manner up perfectly .

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  2. Will be visiting this store in July/August which will be 49 years after I started work at Robinson’s Department Store. 1965-1967 were the formative years for me after school life at Newtown and then Richard Hind. What an awakening for me going from a strictly boy’s school to a store full of girls!! Wonderful times for us all and often wonder how many are still around the world at the moment but remember our days in what was very like “Grace Brothers” except we had Mr Rose and Mr Spears instead of Mr Grace and Co.

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    • Alan, Ted Spears was my uncle, and a few of my pals worked there in the time period you mention, Steve McCulloch, Kenny McGregor, Mickey Jarrett and afew more.

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      • Bill
        Those names ring bells for me I think Steve was in furniture or men’s wear, Kenny in soft furnishings mad Mickey maybe in Carpets. A great group at the time they we’re in sales and I was in maintenance department. Ted Spears was a very nice gentleman who interviewed me for my job always a moderate man who seemed to understand us young lads.

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        • Bill, I’ve tried to track you and Celia down for years. Hope you are well. Get in touch with the Picture Stockton team for my email address.

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  3. These pictures of the girls from the basement at Robinsons 1965-67 shows when the basement was part of the shopping area and shows how low the ceiling was with all the heating pipes and services showing. Prices on the ironing boards at the back show how times have changed. Wonder where all these girls are now, I know where one is – she lives at our house!!

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  4. I too was there when Alexandra Bastedo was, I think, ‘opening’ a refurbished shop. Think from Robinsons to Debenhams – wasn’t she beautiful?..

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  5. Christmas morning What did you do on a Christmas morning, no point in counting your presents, and saying I’ve got more than you or he/she’s got more than me, you can guarantee that we all had equal amount’s. What traditions did your house/family have, in parts of Essex and London; presents are not opened until after Christmas lunch, other parts of the country on Christmas Eve, in our Stockton house about two seconds after the last person hit’s the bottom step of the stairs on Christmas morning. On this morning only, throughout the whole year, a flat dish each, a sliced orange covered in boiling water sprinkled with sugar and dry bread to dip in, nothing like it. In Poland and Italy Christmas lunch is fish, Carp in Poland and Cod in Italy, Turkey/Chicken in our house. My main gift was as always no matter what was to be unwrapped, my Christmas stocking, as well as the usual orange, apple and sweets was each year four shiny new pennies of that Christmas year. What did you do or look forward to doing on your Christmas mornings of so long ago. Roy.

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  6. i can remember going to see alexandra bastedo from the champions tv series in robinsons store about 68/69,can anyone remember why she would be there?

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  7. Red, Amber, and Green what did we do without them and when they came in what did we do with the extra Policemen who were no longer needed to direct the traffic. Extra fire wood was created for a few after all the white painted boxes they stood on were removed from cluttering up the police yard in Church Road. When did traffic lights come in to use? Roy.

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  8. Festive Season. Decorations and Christmas lights are rather like traffic lights, what we did without them. Light turning on ceremonies, a ritual of formal ceremony, when did it all start? Did Stockton Town Centre compete with Middlesbrough and Darlington and the like? Or did we start them because they had them and as trends go we followed. I know years gone by a ship used to pull up to the Corporation Quay with a great Pine Tree strapped to its decks, a gift from one Nordic port town to Stockton, another port town across the miles. I remember my dad taking me and my siblings down to watch the unloading of the tree and the hauling of the said tree up to the high street, was it a gift and if so what happened when our port never existed? Were we twinned with this town and if so are we still? Did Yarm have such a gracious gift bestowed on them prior to ships being to large to get up to them? Roy.

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  9. My mother in Law who”s maiden name was Betty Dodsworth worked I believe in the restauraunt. Married Rex Coomber who both are sadly no longer with us.

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  10. Christine, do you know what years your mother-in-law worked at Robinsons. I worked there for a couple of years as did my wife to be (second left in both photos). I remember lots of the girls but names not so good. I did know most of the restaurant ladies though – my tea and biscuits supply! I worked in the Maintenance Department (Electrical) I noticed comments about santa”s grotto – it was the best in town and santa”s arrival was the centre of attention for all traders, they did copy after he arrived. The basement toy department was brilliant for kids and a big challenge to Leslie Brown”s and Bill Dean”s Toy Shops. The management structure was very hierarchial and in other comments about staff using “public staircases” it is quite correct, it really was like working for Grace Bros in “Are you being served” – however, a great starting place for many a career I am sure and mine in particular. I visit the now “Debenhams” on my visits back to UK and see that even the old Robinson”s building is changing at the back and inside but the facade and tower remain as constant reminders of the good old days. Lets hope progress does not see the demise of what was an institution in Stockton many years ago.

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  11. My mother-in-Law was a Robinsons Employee, I believe she worked in the restaurant. Does any one remember Mrs Betty Coomber as we would like to hear from you as I am afraid Betty is no longer with us, and a workmate from Robinsons attended the funeral and we would like to say thanks. As Betty was poorly for approx. six months and in hospital and she lost touch with some of her many friends. email: coomber85@hotmail.com

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  12. Happy days indeed – some of my best memories of my early working life were at Robinson”s. How many more people out there have photos of the store itself and how many young girls and boys gained their first work opportunities through the store. The design of the store has changed since the 60″s and I remember it being one of the first to have a “supermarket” section. Always competed with Blacketts for the prestige of being the “best” Department Stores. In the 60″s had its own TV maintenance staff who ran around in a van fixing TV”s and Radios and provided on-site service (thing of the past).

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  13. Oh happy Days. When I was a school girl in the dim and distant past, I worked as a Saturday girl in Robinsons for 7 shillings and sixpence per week!! (7/6). I had to wear one of those awful overalls. They were bri-nylon, navy blue with a pink and white dotted collar. I was so tiny that it touched my feet. We were not allowed to walk up the customer stairs but had to access all floors via a back stairway. If Miss Smith, the lady who was in charge of the fancy goods department in the basement, saw you using the customer stairs, or even worse the lift, then it was at the best a severe telling off by Mr Rose the Manager or at the worst dismissal!! She run the department with a rod of iron. I can”t remember her ever smiling. What really upsets me now is that the china and glasswear that we sold has now started to appear on the Antiques Roadshow!! Wish I”d bought some.

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  14. The four girls in the photograph are left to right, Joyce Bagley, Muriel Gurr, Angela Casey and Jean Whittaker. All worked in the basement sections of the store in the mid 1960″s. The store was managed for a while by Mr Rose. It was a very hierarchial management structure but a very friendly place to work. I worked in the maintenance department for about two years after leaving school. Really enjoyed working with all of those girls and married one of them. The building itself was one of the first steel framed structures and had one of the first “fire sprinkler” systems. The main water header tank being located at the top of the Robinson”s Tower. Does anybody else have any recollections from those mid 1960″s.

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  15. Left to right on the picture is Jean Whittaker, Muriel Gurr, Angela Casey, Molly ? and Ivy Armstrong. Only know the whereabouts of Muriel, now Mrs Davis.

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  16. It was with great interest that I read your information on Robinsons basement. I also worked there in 1955 in the basement. It was Mr Moffett who was our basement manager in those days. When Father Christmas came there used to be hundreds of people waiting to see him arrive and it was great fun to be santa”s helper.

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  17. Only know three of the girls names, Left to right, Jean W, Muriel G and Angela C. The basement was used for such as santa”s grotto, storerooms and the famous Lanson vacuum system for sending money around the store in vacuum tubes. Staff in each department would send cutomers cash in canisters place in the system and the transaction handled by cashiers in a central location all the change and reciepts were then sent back to where it came from via the “system”. I helped dismantle the system in the basement in 1965/66 although I believe it was not used for a few years prior to that – it was a work of mechanical engineering art, noisy, hot and sticky.

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  18. Robinson”s Girls and the mention of Robinsons basement , will bring back many happy memories of “Christmas Past”.  It was here that Christmas really started in Stockton , the first Saturday in December (not as to-day in Sept) with Santa”s apperance, after a triumphant coach ride from Stockton Station, down the High Street to Yarm Lane, past of hundreds cheering and waving children and their parents then back to his “Grotto” in Robinsons basement. A sheer delight of thousands of shining gift and game boxes Mecanno, Hornby, electric-lit dolls-house and floor to ceiling racks of toys. Stall-holders always held back till his arrival, this gave them an equal start and any who “jumped-the gun”, were cold-shoulder by fellow traders. Department stores such as Doggarts, Wilsons and the Co-op followed, but Robinson”s “Grotto” was No 1 in Stockton.

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