Can you remember clutching your mum’s hand and being treated to visits to Doncaster shops such as Oobido, Bejam and the Gingham Kitchen?
Perhaps you can remember gazing at the huge talking parrot at the Northern Zoological Stores, drooling over Subbuteo figures at Sugg Sports or eyeing up model cars and train sets at Cuttriss’s model shop?
If those names stir the memories, then chances are you grew up in Doncaster during the 1970s and 80s.
We’ve taken a step down memory lane to remember some of the memorable town centre shops and stores you visited during your childhood.
One of the most fondly remembered of all High Street stores, Woolies was the place to be all year round - but especially at Christmas when it came into its own as a children’s paradise. Toys, sweets, decorations - it had the lot. And if you were especially good during your shopping trip, you could be expected to be treated to dinner in the cafe, decorated with red leatherette furniture and low hanging red ceiling lights.
2. OOBIDO AND TIP TOP
These two discount stores nestled alongside each other at the top of Printing Office Street, roughly opposite where the Four Seasons cafe is situated today. A forerunner of pound shops, they were a favourite of mums everywhere, stocking everything under the sun - at low prices. Toiletries and household products filled the shelves for bargain hunting shoppers. In the same vein was Britannia Stores on High Street.
3. NORTHERN ZOOLOGICAL STORES
Despite its less than catchy name, a trip here on any Doncaster town centre expedition was one to be savoured. For it was one of the few places to see live animals, although most children crowded in simply to see the pets without buying. As well as endless tanks of goldfish, many will recall the huge squawking and talking parrot which eyed up youngsters from behind the bars of its cage.
4. SUGG SPORTS
Perched at the end of the Frenchgate Centre where the Panasonic store is now located, many young boys would spent their Saturday morning here, gazing at the dazzling array of sports equipment on offer. Boots, cricket bats, footballs - whatever the sport, Sugg stocked it. It also boasted an impressive array of Subbuteo table football accessories - and youngsters would scramble together pennies to get hold of their favourite teams. Don Valley Sports in Spring Gardens was similiar in style.
5. GINGHAM KITCHEN
Another treat for young 70s and 80s shoppers in Doncaster was a trip to the Gingham Kitchen, a cafe situated alongside the alleyway at the top end of Hallgate. As its name suggests, the cafe was decorated in acres of checked fabric and the air would be thick with the sounds and smells of coffee machines percolating, bacon frying and other goodies in among its somewhat gloomy surroundings. Other missed cafes include Poppins in Frenchgate and Speedibar on East Laith Gate.
6. JOHN BUTLER
Almost like a throwback to the Two Ronnies ‘fork handles’ sketch, this much-missed ironmonger at the bottom of Silver Street was a proper ‘dads’ shop. Selling every bit of hardware you could imagine, its dusty, musty, wooden floored interior evoked memories of much earlier times - and many a tear was shed when it finally closed its Arkwright style doors. Wild and Sykes on the High Street was its competitor.
7. CHELSEA GIRL
With its far out and groovy stylings that wouldn’t have looked out of place in an Austin Powers film, Chelsea Girl was the boutique to be seen in in the late 70s and early 80s. Situated on the front of the Frenchgate Centre, female fashionistas will probably recall its vivid colours and curved shop window frontage. C&A, upstairs in the Frenchgate, and in particular its Clock House range also styled many children of the decade.
8. BRADLEY’S RECORDS
Situated where Crawhsaw’s Butchers is now located on the entrance to then Arndale Centre, Bradley’s is one of a handful of much-missed Doncaster record shops where you could listen to the latest sounds. Others that have bitten the dust include Track, Our Price, Andys Records and of course Fox’s which had two Arndale bases - one a record store, the other a musician’s paradise, selling all the latest keyboards.
9. TAYLOR AND COLBRIDGE
Long before Waterstones came this cramped, crowded and fondly remembered bookstore and stationery outlet. It was situated on several floors on St Sepulchre Gate, where Cafe Nero is now, and many a rainy afternoon could be spent whiling away perusing the wealth of books on offer, with journals and maps as well as thousands of literary tomes taking up every inch of available space.
10. BEJAM AND FULHAM FROZEN FOODS
The 70s and 80s brought a revolution in the food industry - frozen food and these two stores were at the forefront in Doncaster. FFF, situated near Christ Church was first in on the act and was followed shortly afterwards by Bejam, which was just a few doors down from the Yorkshire Electricity Board showrooms on Silver Street. Chest freezers lined every aisle - and paved the way for current stores such as Iceland and Heron.
11. CUTTRISS MODEL SHOP
Many a young lad will probably get dewy-eyed at the mere mention of the name - a modelling enthusiasts’ paradise which was situated on Duke Street and was stacked high with Hornby railway sets, Airfix models as well as car kits and loads of other amazing toys that would leave youngsters open-mouthed in disbelief. It later became the offices of the Doncaster Star and is now a Polish supermarket.
12. DON MILLER
Bus passengers exiting the North Bus Station would be met with the smell of freshly baked bread as they arrived in the Arndale Centre. That was all courtesy of the appropriately named bakery chain Don Miller which had a store located near to where Boots Opticians is now. Huge white and brown loaves as well as buns and cakes were the order of the day - and shopping trips would often end up here for a treat, if you’d been “good.”
* What are you most missed shops from bygone Doncaster? Let us know!