61 thoughts on “Leslie Browns

  1. I think it was about 1962 or 63 when the yoyo craze started again, you could buy different yoyos and were shown how to do tricks with them. When you were good at the tricks you went back to the shop and showed them and got a badge saying expert or instructor. Great days at a great shop.

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  2. What shop occupies this now or does anybody know what number on the high street this was? I’d like to go back inside of whatever it is now to remember it.

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    • A delayed response… it was 95 High St. but there will be very little left to recognise. No.s 94 (on the left, was Bradley’s) & 95 were merged with a new frontage added. It has been several bars, but has stood empty for a long time, there are plans to reopen it. The only bit of this picture that is still recognisable today are the windows above Smiths next-door, which is currently The Clock Tower pub.

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  3. Loved this shop as a child, bought my barbies from here, and as I grew up listened to records in the sound booth -FAB!!

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  4. My grandmother was called Dorothy Brown, she was from Stockton, sisters name Muriel, she told me
    she was related to the owners, her brother or cousin – I’m not sure – went into the shop when I was a kid, I must have only been about 7 yrs old then, and tried to ‘namedrop’ in the hope of a freebie ha ha…
    I suppose they are long gone now ?.

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    • My goodness Muriel was my Nanna! Auntie dolly , her sister lived in Harrogate. June and ken still live in Harrogate today. I have a very old photo of presumably Leslie brown which was found in the shop when it was refurbished.

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  5. The host of comments was a wonderful burst of nostalgia for me and, I suspect, many others. This shop takes some beating and it would be lovely to see something like this recreated instead of the big, soulless, money-making stores which we have nowadays; also they are invariably out of town. It seems amazing that they seemed to have as great a variety of toys as today’s big stores; not to mention the records etc that they also stocked.

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  6. I bought all my model railway (mainly Hornby, Triang-Hornby in those days) from Leslie Brown’s. Mrs Longthorn was the font of all knowledge in the model railway department and seemed to remember every model they ever made! It was her help with the electrics for my model railway that got me so interested in electronics and automation of points and signals that I made a career from it. If anyone knows where she is now please pass on my thanks and best wishes. My eternal thanks to Mrs Longthorn 🙂

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  7. I absolutley loved this shop. My mam used to take me here to get my Star Wars figures then on to the ABC for a Saturday morning treat. We moved away from Thornaby in 1978 to Milton Keynes. It was the best toy shop ever, miles better than overpriced Hamleys.

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  8. I loved Leslie Browns so much as a kid. My dad would take me there as a treat (must have been the late 70’s). We called it the bunny rabbit shop – was there a ride-on rabbit on the ground floor? I do remember the cowboys shooting ride, and the machine which had a sort of aladdins cave in it, which had an elephant that did a little circuit, then dropped a brown box with a present out the bottom. My favourite area was the Sindys and Barbies. At one stage they had a Sindy display on the stairs, and they projected a ‘singing’ Sindy onto the display sindy so it looked like she was singing herself. Very impressive back then LOL!

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  9. The shop was called Leslie Brown’s because it was his shop. He, his wife, sister and son ran it along with a very dedicated staff. They were a lovely family to work for. As you said, the coming of the huge toy warehouses meant the end of an era for Stockton children. I’m sure that when my granchildren grow up they will not have such wonderful memories to look back on.

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    • Sandra – when did you work there and on which counter? I was there, between about 1974 and 1977. The family was lovely. I worked mostly Saturdays, but also summer hols and always Christmas – so busy- on the Scaletrix/Nursey Counter downstairs, with Graham. Elizabeth however was my dear mentor. Ruled the roost but was such a kind and caring soul. Trips to get bikes from the ‘warehouse’ in between making daring trips to the Classical Music counter to see the love of my life, but she never was nor realised! And Saturday mornings always started with the Saturday staff crushing boxes and removing to the front to be picked up for refuse later that morning. Mr Brown was always a bit scary and Don the security guard wouldn’t get away with that behaviour these days. Some kids left with torn coats! A lasting memory, always will be, but now the High Street seems such a disgrace I can’t even see where the shop used to be!
      Steve

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  10. I agree Craig, how many shops are there that you can still close your eyes and see the inside features so clearly even after 40 years. When I close my eyes from over 40 years ago I can see as you go in the sound booths on the left hand side and the counter on the right where the young girls would put the record on you choose to listen too and purchase. As you leave the record booths you see LPs covers of the latest records covering all the walls up a couple of steps and then you were into the toys. On the right hand side I can still see all the model soldiers often they were Union versus Confederates and behind the counter on the wall were Airfix models and soldiers. Upstairs was the train set which you put in a penny to make it go. I also remember the section upstairs which just held classical records managed by someone always smartly dressed. Great memories.

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  11. The greatest shop in town, a treat to go in here. I remember it like it was yesterday… two rides on the way in, a big motorbike and a horse, up the steps to see a joke wall, was there a train set downstairs and car racing up the stairs?, record shop in the front on the top floor – great times. Why was the shop called Leslie Browns? There was a toy shop on Bishopton Rd as well. I think the opening of Toys ‘r’ Us destroyed it – very sad. Stockton is a ghost town now.

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    • Hi Craig, was the other toyshop on Bishopton road called DEANS as I have very vague memories of a green painted shop front with the name DEANS above the doorway. Everything inside toy soldiers, and cars etc were laid out on trestle tables not a patch on Leslie Browns but, still sadly gone now.

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  12. I remember very fondly going in the doors, and to the right was a cowboy and indians game, where you shot at the indians coming along in front of you. To the left as you came in was where they sold all varieties of amazing marbles, and I seem to recall getting a violin string from there too?

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  13. I remember Sheila Flynn from Leslie Browns, she was a tall very attractive girl with short black hair, she was a little older than me as I was the youngest there at the time. We were friends with another girl who worked there called Marjorie, I can’t remember her surname. I went to the Coop in Wellington Street a couple of times but I lived in Billingham and my socialising was mainly there. I also remember Mr Browns sister Hazel sometimes helped out in the shop.

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  14. In the book ‘Memories of Stockton on Tees’ there are some photographs of Leslie Browns internal set up including the famous train set we all drooled over. That shop was a Mecca to youngsters for many years and even when we grew up we would visit for records or Christmas presents for our own children. The magic seems to be lost now although letting my grandchildren loose in the huge toy shop on the retail Park still brings a smile to my face and a sad look from my wallet. Looking through the book today checking I had it right, I saw a photograph of my holding hands sweetheart as they then were, we met up on the school bus from Norton to the Richard Hind and then segregated by a high wall and iron gate until home time. She left the area for many years and then returned, we bumped into each other and the recognition was instant, a long chat about old times ensued, such lovely innocent times. Many of the views show the old Town shops and pubs, some I had forgotten about although the view of the market stretches the whole length of the High Street, a vibrant place to be Wednesdays and Saturdays. When the new High Street is finished it will consist of a few stalls at one end, let us hope all the changes are for the better, the last lot were not.

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  15. Can you remember Shiela Flynn when she worked there Eileen? She was a friend of my sister and we all were members of the Co-op Youth Club in Wellington Street. Shiela would always tell us when we could buy the No. 1’s in the ‘top twenty’ chart.

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  16. I remember Leslie Browns shop very well, I worked in the record department for 2 years from 1957-1959. It was a pleasure and great fun to work there. I worked with a girl called Anita Fairburn, now deceased. I was there when the record booths were installed and played many a record for the customers. Mr Brown was the perfect gentleman and would often take Anita and I out to lunch in his Daimler. I have very fond memories of my time at Leslie Browns.

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    • I started going into Ieslie browns in 1960, my brother and I used to buy a Balsa model aircraft, build it on Saturday night, and smash it up trying to fly it in the village park on Sunday. I have several records, bought from there, still with the Leslie Brown sticker on. Very fond memories, especially upstairs, model trains and all.

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    • I worked with you also along with Sheila Lamb and Anita before the shop had the extension built on from 1957 to 1967. When it was built I took over the railway dept and built that train set along with John Boyes who worked with me on a Saturday. Brenda Blakelock. Best job I have ever had.

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  17. I seem to remember they used to have a great window display for Halloween and Bonfire Night.
    They used to have a full window dedicated to those occasions.

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  18. I can remember looking under the beds or on top of the cupboards for the xmas presents wrapped in Leslie Browns wrapping paper. What a busy shop that was at xmas. I wonder who designed the window that had you looking in both sides and then getting you into the door.

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  19. Leslie Brown’s shop was a good place to get guitar plectrums – just inside the front door and to the right. There was a spanish guitar up on the wall. Harmonicas were on display.

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  20. I too have wonderful memories of Leslie Browns toyshop. I had a Tressy doll, and bought outfits for her there. I would stand and drool at the beautiful dolls and the trendy clothes for them. Leslie Browns is special to us as a family because my Mam worked there in 1953, and my Dad went in there to buy a record one day and the rest is history! This year they celebrate their 55th wedding anniversary.

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  21. This takes me back to the days of spending my pocket money in the jokes section of the shop and
    looking at the train display wishing. Then, as I got older, getting my first chart records from there. It was the best toy shop for miles – pity it had to go. It’S like everything, time doesn’t stand still for anything.

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  22. I loved Leslie Browns toyshop as a kid in the early eighties, I went on saturdays with my brothers and we always stood in awe at the amount of airfix kits and the Scalectrix track. Also the train in the window that just went backwards and forwards also the small space invaders arcade machine on the ground floor. I also remember the tube chase lights in the window and how narrow the walkways were. Happy days indeed.

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  23. Was the Dry Cleaner called Martin’s? There was a bird in the window. I loved Leslie Brown’s as a child in the fifties. Every Saturday I used to browse the Gramophone catalogue upstairs and ask the lady to tell me what I should buy with my pocket money, if I had enough. I had eventually a wonderful collection of classical music, mostly bought in Leslie Brown’s and have enjoyed music ever since. We used to stand at the bus stop further along the high street on school mornings. I haven’t been back for years and would love to go. This is a wonderful site – thank you.

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  24. Leslie lived at the 1804 Bath Cottage’s, Vicars Row on Norton Green at ‘Copellia-Cottage’. The two cottage are now 25/26 The Green.
    He said the fad of Television Toy promotion and very large retailer warehouse suppliers killed the small specalist toy-shop.
    He was very much upset by the year of the ‘Ninja-Turtles’, which cut into his late autumn and Christmas trade.
    I’ve many happy memories with Les and the Puppets. I’ll always remember at the Metro-Centre when a party of blind children danced with The Happy-Wanderers.
    Hanging onto puppets, collecting monkey and covers as a RAF ‘Sea-King’ helicopter did a low fly-past through Whitby harbour on RNLI Lifeboat-Day raising clouds of spray, as the whinch-man waved to the crowd.

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  25. I had the pleasure of working with Les for over 10 years, with his Happy-Wanderer Puppets.
    These puppets, 7 in all, were child-size and operated by hand strings.
    We travelled all over the Nort-East from Metro-Centre to York.
    Les was a great supporter of the RNLI and attended lifeboat days.
    On one occassion introduced to Her Royal Highness Duchess of Kent, during a new naming of Whitby Life Boat.
    He also supported Guide-Dogs and raised enough via puppets to name a Guide-Dog ‘Heidi’ after his favourite puppet.
    His ambition was to open a Toy-Museum in Norton and I had the privelage of seeing its contents.
    The coverted stable-block was packed;
    Dinky-Toys from 1940s,
    Meccano both sets and models, Locomotives, Ships, Steamboats, all having appeared in his window.
    Model train lay out from Britain, Gemany and the USA,
    A fully working fairground with music and sound (this appeared in the 1980s-1990s at Preston-Park, Kikleatham and Gateshead Metro-Centre also on TTTV)
    Military and Circus minatures lined glass cases.
    Records and recording from the 1890 Cylinder to present CD.
    Regretably his death saw this project ended.
    To local folk the puppets were a regular feature of the friday market in Stockton High Street, during the 1980-90s, and the yearly Butterwick ‘May-Fair on Norton Green.

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  26. Leslie Brown was indeed a real person and could usually be found working downstairs at the back of his shop along with his wife, son Tony and sister Hazel. He was an excellent employer and is mentioned in other contexts on this site.

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  27. Leslie Browns (was there such a person?) what a magical place for us all as we went through our life stages, Leslie Browns could provide for us all.
    I remember them installing those individual booths which with a bit of effort three of you could just about squeeze in to listen to your choice of record.
    The girls behind the desk had about four stylus turntables to work with and when a booth became available you were directed to it by the booth number.
    We all listened to far more records than we could ever afford to buy and could quite happily spend a couple of hours going from booth to booth.
    I bought my first 78rpm record there ‘Hoots Mon (Lord Rockinghams 11) and also my first 45rpm Buddy Holly’s Rave On. I can remember the staff asking if you wanted your chosen record on a 45 or a 78? and me still choosing the breakable 78 over the unbreakable 45 as I believed you got more playtime from the far larger 78!…..well at least I admit to my innocence!
    If Browns didn’t have your choice in stock you could try Whitely’s in Finkle St which could be a tad daunting. A doorbell rang as you entered the shop which had the atmosphere of a reference library, nothing so common as record booths this was a musicians shop that dabbled with pop records. The most noise I ever heard in there was the sound of the floorboards creaking!
    So here’s to Leslie Browns that played such a wonderful part in our lives for so many years.

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  28. All my toys as a kid came from Leslie Browns – Tonka truck, metal none of todays plastic rubbish, lone ranger with silver, bionic man with rubber skin, Bonds astin martin and moon buggy, Race and chase, stock car smash ups, Thunderbird 2 and action man with kit that was endless..and he had real hair……buy them today and they’ll be plastic that lasts a week if your lucky. We buy our kids toys for xmas that are usually in bits by new year.

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  29. My memories of the best shop in Stockton include as you walked in during the sixties the latest LP covers pasted on to the walls – my first full price record was bought from this shop “Hey Jude” in 1968 after listening to it in the booth. Then you went up a couple of steps into where the toys were, I bought my model soldiers from the glass cases which where situated on the right (I really got the bug and spent 24 years being one myself, thanks Lesley Brown).
    Upstairs was a fantastic model railway set which only needed a few pennies to make it work. What with the minors at the Odeon and the ABC this was heaven on a Saturday. As I write it is Saturday morning in Colchester wishing for those days again.

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  30. Oh how I agree with you all. What a trip down memory lane. My dad used to take us after we had collected pennies for the ‘guy’ and we would get some fireworks. Happy days.

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  31. Oh I remember this shop so well, my brother and I would spend sat mornings here while our mother shopped. Back in the days when toy shops where still “magical”. I feel so sorry that kids nowadays have nowhere but the souless supermarkets or chainstores.

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  32. Leslie Browns was the best shop in Stockton. As a child the shop window wanted you to purchase toys… I had a lady penelope doll, wish I still had it. My mum would buy games for xmas and birthday’s from there and on November 5th she would bring a box of fireworks and sparklers home. As I got older I used to purchase a monthly magazine in the late 60s/early 70s with the words and lyrics from the pop songs…happy days.

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  33. I lived in Yarm Lane from 1951-52 approx, in a two bedroom flat over a dry cleaning shop next to the Garrick. Before Lego took over, at Christmas there was always a working Meccano model in the window. There was an Eiffel Tower one year, and also a Showmans Engine that I can remember, and they had working lights as well. There were others too but I can’t bring them to mind. On the model railway theme, Robinson’s at the other end of the High Street always had a large Tri-ang one down in the basement as well, at Christmas. Can any of you old-timers remember the name of the dry cleaners? It was opposite the Maison de Danse.

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  34. I have fond memories of Leslie Brown’s, I used to love gazing into the right hand shop window, where all the best toys were displayed (the left showing mainly musical instruments). I can also remember a ‘Lego’ model of York minster by the staircase. It was an amazing place to be as a kid.

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  35. I used to love this shop when I was a child. It was full of magic for me. When my family first got one of the old record players, my dad said we could all choose a record each. Mine was ‘I got you Babe’ – Sonny & Cher, and bought from Leslie Browns. When my own children were growing up, my 5 year old daughter asked to be taken to the ‘light shop’ one day. I went through every shop I could think of that sold lamps, chandeliers etc., wondering why she wanted to go to that kind of shop. After much frustration, she said that it was the shop ‘with lights round the window’. I guessed straightaway with this clue that she wanted to go to Leslie Browns! Does anyone remember these lights? Both my daughters loved this shop as much as me. It was the only place in Stockton where you could go into a booth and listen to the latest pop record. I thought all the ‘cool’ kids hung out there on Saturdays. Nowhere like it these days unfortunately!!

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  36. I remember this shop very well it was the best toy shop ever had every toy you could imagine. I remember when Masters of the Universe were big they had a He man and Skeletor instore to promote them, I queued for hours to see them. My mum worked in the underground market across the road and I would spend hours in this shop waiting for my mum to finish work.

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  37. As previous posts indicate, the day of the ‘speciality’ Toy-shop have long since passed, of which I recall there were three on Teesside in the post WWII years. These were, Leslie Brown’s (S’ton), Smarts, and Romer Parrish’s (M’bro). The finely engineered, or even handcrafted toy, provided work for many UK based factories (Hornby,Triang, Chad Valley etc) with imports of other quality items springing from the ‘traditional’ German, and other continental manufacturers. The advent of plastics technology, and the expansion of far-eastern economies, eventually sounded the death-knell for ‘Toy-shops’. Maybe it was our own fault? The baby-boomer generation by the ’60’s wanted ‘new ideas’ and sought quantity, over quality, for their own chidren, This, to make up for the possible toy ‘deprivation’, that the 1920′-30’s, and the post-war rationing had played in previous generations. So, plastic Tonka trucks and Barbie-dolls were produced in such volumes that profit margins were reduced, and as wages were high, these soon wiped out the expensive train set, or hand-crafted dolls-houses, which had prevously been given as the ‘main’ (or only) Christmas present each year. And so, it was ‘goodbye’to the Toy-shops, who ended up eventually competing with supermarket chains. However, I do recall that Leslie Brown’s also used to have a magnificent display of Hohner Harmonicas, these in a large glass fronted showcase just inside the main doorway. One day in 1966, aged just 17, and having just formed a blues-band, my guitarist pal Bob McConnell, and myself were in Stockton, and found they had a rare, F-sharp harmonica in stock. By putting our joint finances together, we came up with the 7/6d needed to buy it…with the result we had no bus-fare, and had to walk all the way back to our homes in Middlesbrough! Like all Hohner harmonicas back then, it came in a finely printed card box, with gold embossed lettering and inside it was wrapped in ‘gossamer-like’ fine tissue paper. That same harmonica, in the same key (available almost anywhere by now), recently cost me over £20. Incidentally, it came in a plain-old plastic case!

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  38. I remember Leslie Brown`s as a travel from Stockton’s High street, to an Individual World where kids and grown-up’s could get easily `lost` on a Saturday re-living model railways, scalectric, records etc. My mum used to have a stall on the nearby market and I would look forward to climbing into the world of Leslie Brown every time I could do so, usually on a Saturday morning, ogling at the magnificent train layouts and item`s for sale. Hornby, Trix, Meccano, Scalectric etc. Shame these shop`s are now long gone – kid’s of today don’t know what they have missed.

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  39. Leslie Brown’s was one of those shops you couldn’t walk past without going in or looking in the shop window, I couldnt anyway. It was like a fairground attraction, it was always buzzing.

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  40. I cannot agree more with all the comments regarding Leslie Brown’s. My Father bought me my very first record there, The ‘1812’ Overture by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Band of the Grenadier Guards. It may have been fate but I spent 30 years with the band from the age of 16!

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  41. The instant I saw this photo I thought of the Scalectrix set upstairs and I was just telling my wife about the Lego QE2 the other week, remembering wondering how much it would cost in Lego to build it. I used to go there to buy Matchbox and Dinky cars , bits for my trainset and Swapitts, then later on the record dept trying to cram 3 of us into a soundproof?? booth

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  42. I also ended up on the ground floor in Leslie Browns when I got older as well, only thing I didn”t like was the wait to get into the soundproof booths – over half an hour on a sat morning. Regarding Tripe & Onions, also Udder, on a Saturday Teatime my Mam used to put a Sparks fresh cream cake in the middle of the table and the only way you could reach it was to get past the tripe and onions first. Them days we ate whatever was put in front of you or went withought tea and every night was a full dinner with yorkshire puds and the lot. Nowadays the kids are too fussy and picky and eat just rubbish. The school dinners at Stephenson weren”t that bad except on a wednesday when it was that watery smelling fish followed by rice pudding. Anyway I always missed out on a Wednesday thats when my amnesia started and couldnt find my way to school and got lost down billingham beck for the day hahaha. Mind you by 10am on the Thurdays my fingers rememberd were I had been in Bill Summers office. Its nice to hear from you again Alan.

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  43. You and me both Peter, except that I was sixteen and went there to hear the latest top twenty hits of the day. Guy Mitchell – She wears red feathers and a hula hula skirt, Frankie Laine – I believe , and many more. Leslie Brown had soundproofed booths that you could go into and hear the record that you wished to buy. I”ve still got some of them 55 years down the road. Re your love of tripe. I have a friend who likes it also and gave me some when I visited her recently. I thought it was vile and have not eaten any since. Maybe my taste buds are wimps. You”ll be telling me next that you thought that Stephenson Hall school dinners were delicious!! Hope you are well. Have you thought of putting your details on FRIENDS REUNITED? You will meet up with some old friends there maybe. I”m in contact with two former pupils at the moment. Try it!

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  44. I used to love going in this shop when I was a bairn, it was our treat if we behaved while our mam and dad were shopping. We used to run up to the top floor to put our penny in the scalelectic but my fave was the QE2 made out of Lego, then home for tea – Tripe and onions. Only wish them days were back again.

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