When I think of Tunstall my mind flashes back to H & R Johnson too. I was a child of the 1950s and I lived in Connaught Street, with my parents, grandmother and some of my extended family.
The house had originally been a very large pub at one stage and was huge.
One side of the house faced Connaught Street, and the other side Harewood Street.
Across the road in Harewood Street my uncle Jack kept the Mason Arms public house.
Often another uncle could be found playing the piano while my father sang.
I was granny-reared, like so many other children of the 50s. My mother worked in various potbanks, my father at H & R Johnson in the tile shop, finally retiring in 1980 after 25 years’ service.
I remember attending St Mary’s Nursery in Lascelles Street where cod liver oil and camp beds were the order of the day, and the milk was always warm – it put me off drinking milk from that day on!
The building is still in Lascelles Street; at one stage I remember it being used as a little pottery firm.
At the end of the school day I used to look in amazement at the beautiful prams, scooters and all the toys packed high in Playland’s shop window.
It was Tunstall’s esteemed toy shop, situated at the end of Lascelles Street.
Also in the same street I have fond memories of going to the British Legion, where my friends and I would play outside and have crisps and drink bottles of Ricci (an orange pop drink).
I also recall Blundells. This shop was at the bottom of High Street, where you could get most things: clothes, shoes and kitchenware.
I remember going to the fish and chip shop for my great grandmother, who lived in Limes Street, to get her fritters, an errand I rather enjoyed as there was one always included for me.
I have happy memories of eventually moving and attending the big St Mary’s School until I was 11. This was at the bottom of Harewood Street.
We had a lovely dinner lady who looked after us in the playground, Mrs Porter. She would often bring in jubilees for us.
We had some lovely teachers and it was here that I made lifelong friends who I am still in touch with to this day.
Many years later the school was bought by H & R Johnson and became the canteen.
Opposite our school playground was the H & R Johnson loading bay and my friends and I would play shop with the spacers, which were cornet shapes that were tipped into big containers.
Along with the other pupils I often attended St Mary’s Church, which was situated next door to the school, for various saints’ days. I remember going to Sunday school there and collecting stamps in a little book for attendance. I loved the days when my gran said we could go to the little park opposite the Barbers Palace in Station Road (now the Boulevard).
We love nostalgia – it’s a key part of what we do here at StokeonTrentLive.
So much so that we’ve got a dedicated Facebook group – that’s all about nostalgia!
It’s called Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire Nostalgia.
It’s a look at the history and heritage of Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire, including local places and faces, lost buildings and industries, military history and a nod to our proud past.
You can read more nostalgia stories as well as join in with the conversation – sharing your own recollections and photographs.
We look forward to seeing you in our group!
Sometimes, when time would allow, my gran would take me to the big park, Tunstall Park. That was my favourite, especially the paddling pool in the nice weather and the Floral Hall conservatory with the lovely plants.
I only remember going to Barber’s Palace once as a young child, with my mother and father, to see the showing of Geronimo. We had seats in the circle upstairs and I was so excited. It didn’t last for long though as my mother said she felt as if the horses were coming out of the screen. I often wondered what she would have made of 3D!
Of course when talking of Tunstall, I have to mention the wonderful Victorian swimming baths.
Here, no doubt like so many other Tunstall children, I remember the little changing rooms on the side and learning to swim and completing my length certificate at primary school.
Monday was wash day for my gran, which was a full day’s work and if I was good I would be rewarded with dolly mixtures and TV in the afternoon, watching The Flower Pot Men, Andy Pandy and the Wooden Tops before my afternoon nap.
Often the sound of the popping corks off the homemade ginger beer could be heard from the pantry, also stacked on the shelves would be homemade jam, pickled onions and red cabbage.
I remember gran and I would often go food shopping, walking on the cobbles of Smith Street heading up to the square. I loved looking into Forrester’s window on the way.
This shop sold everything and anything. I recall my mother buying me my first scooter from there at a cost of £4, it was a red and blue Triang.
On reaching the square the first visit would be to the Home and Colonial where I was always fascinated by the bacon slicer.
One of the shops I really enjoyed going into and viewing their windows was Naylor’s clothes shop, especially when it was all dressed up for Easter and the beautiful outfits for children would all be on display.
I also liked looking at Lilly’s Wine Shop windows, which were again beautifully dressed for Christmas and Easter.
In 1957 my grandmother moved to Princess Street and I used to play in the backyard or in the street with the children.
Here her front door faced straight onto the sidewall of a loading bay, now we were even closer to H & R Johnson, the building seeming to overshadow the little terraced houses.
On leaving school at 15 I found myself applying for jobs at no less than H & R Johnson, in the Home Office Department and attending secretarial college on day release.
This company, based in Highgate, seemed like my second home, not only for myself and my dad but so many of my family, extended family and close friends who worked there.
When you talked about H & R outside of work someone always knew someone who worked there. It was such a huge concern and it felt like one big family.
My dad was sometimes asked to pluck and dress game birds for owner Derek Johnson, if he had visitors coming. I remember as a very young child attending one of Christmas party held in Tunstall Town Hall, organised by H & R Johnson for the workers’ children.
Many years later I was to find myself attending the staff party at Trentham Gardens. You would be given so many tokens to exchange for drinks and there would be a meal and entertainment.
Now when I look back at what the Highgate has become and the H & R Johnson factory all knocked down it is so sad. All that is left of the company now is based in the valley.
To me Tunstall and H & R Johnson went together.