William Sharps Warehouse, New Street in Thornaby

William Sharp was a well known market trader with a towed caravan/stall placed adjacent to The Shambles on Stockton High Street. Mr Sharp sold fish, eggs and poultry and was famous for his boiled crabs and winkles at 6p a bag with a free pin provided. The eggs he sold were excellent value and his number one seller.

I worked for Mr Sharp (Bill) for four years, and always admired him and his wonderful family and son David. They rose at 5am each day, and took up their positions on the four markets they attended by 7am each day, getting back home at 6pm. This was fine in the summer, but an hardship in the winter when it was bitterly cold, snowed or rained. Suffice to say he never took an holiday, was never ill, and was always well admired by all who knew him. A fine man whom I still miss and admire.

Photograph and details courtesy of Bob Wilson.

6 thoughts on “William Sharps Warehouse, New Street in Thornaby

  1. Everyone knows that major supermarket chains will not purchase, sell or accept fruit and vegetables that have leaf, skin or have appearance blemishes, these items are eatable but buyers tend to avoid them resulting in tonnes being dumped by farmers each year in landfill tips. What few people know is eggs undergo a similar selection process and are graded almost the same way. When I worked for Mr W Sharp it was my job to hand-grade the eggs he had purchased whilst they were being placed on his stall, most eggs then had ‘white shells’ and sold for around a 1/- a dozen, a penny each. My job was to grade them for size (small, medium and large) for shell quality and shell thickness and for cleanliness and appearance. Any eggs we were not happy with where put to one side and sold to the commercial bakeries. During my time working for Mr Sharp, I was witness to the arrival of brown chicken eggs in England. When we placed them on display for sale – some housewives incorrectly guessed that brown dye had been mixed into the chicken’s food in order to produce brown eggs. Brown eggs were laid by Rhode Island Red chickens imported from the USA, the breed of chicken that was developed by crossing a black-breasted red Malay cock imported from England with American native breeds. This now famous English cock bird is on display as the father of the Rhode Island Red at the Smithsonian Museum Institution, Washington, USA.

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  2. Hello. Does anyone remember me or my family? I am Sandra Dover. Went to Robert Atkinson school. Also Mandale infants and Juniors. Dad was Tommy Dover who worked at Head Wrightsons. Mum Sylvia Dover new Harris.

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  3. I used to go to Sharps stall every Wednesday for crab claws and a fresh crab, then to David’s stall inside Bolams at sedgfield. I have moved abroad so have lost touch, I used to do Margaret Sharp and her sister jeans hair in our shop in Hartburn, does anybody know if they are still alive, and if so please remember me to them.

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  4. I worked for Mr Sharp in this warehouse plucking chickens for 3d each, geese for 6d, and afterwards loaded the waggon with goods for the next day market. I was age 11 when I started this work in 1952, it was a part-time job which took place after school. I was never very fast at killing and hand-plucking chickens and could only manage about five birds per hour. Some chickens had smooth silky feathers and were easy to pluck and clean, these birds would be White Leghorns, Black and Buff Orpintons and Bantie’s, you then had the medium size White Suffolk chicken which had strong stubby feathers, and top of the list in overall bird size and feather strength were the Rhode Island Reds whose feathers could cut your fingers and took a lot of pulling. These birds often laid eggs in the crates they came in and Mr Sharp allowed us to take them home free. On Saturday I worked on Mr Sharps Stockton stall as a ‘shelf-filler’. Although this was supposed to be a part-time job – most weeks I worked over 24 hours for the sum of £3.00, which I gave my mother each week. I was offered a full-time job by Mr Sharp when I left school but wanted something better. I regret that Mr Sharp did not open a shop or tried to develop a chain of supermarkets, he had a brother called Norman Sharp who sold fruit and veg from a fruit stall situated near the Town Hall.

    Without any doubt, the King of the Stockton Poulterers in those days was Harry Meynell who had a stall in the Shambles, I can still remember Harry’s Fantastic Christmas Displays of poultry, and by common consent, he easily won the Market Traders Admiration and the Stockton Councils First Prize each year for the best-dressed stall. Harry Meynall was a professional butcher who could dress meat and poultry better than any man in Teesside, he married a Gladys Robinson who took over the business when he died. David Sharp took over his father’s business when he retired and with his wife he had a stall in the Castlegate Centre for many years.

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  5. I was a Saturday girl on Sharp’s red & yellow striped caravan on Stockton market circa Winter 1964 to Summer 1966. That same van was still there the last time I visited Stockton, a few years ago, but striped no longer and almost in the same spot. The main draw on the stall was the fresh seafood (and in vinegar): mussels, whelks, cockles, shrimps and all sizes of crab. One of my jobs was to bag up the winkles which arrived from the warehouse in barrels. It was a long day from 8.30am to 6pm, with about 20 minutes for lunch, but we got 30/- or £1..10s..0d – about twice as much as the Saturday girls at Fine Fare or M&S. It got spent mostly on records – which I still have.

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