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Shopping spree in Wigan way back in 1965

Inside Wigan Market in the 60s
Inside Wigan Market in the 60s
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Geoff Shryhane travels back the the Sixties to check out what he could buy...

It’s 1965 and I’ve been working for five years.

Wigan is a familiar place now with its bustle and thriving shopping centre.

Not like today – with a raft of shops closed and closing and Marks getting ready to put up the shutters.

I’m going to close my eyes today and go on a shopping spree half a century ago.

You are welcome to come with me.

First stop will, of course, be Woolworths at the top of Standishgate. It sells a mind-boggling array of goods and the cafe still takes up quite a lot of room. Who will ever forget the hissing giant kettles? Cuppa for a couple of old pennies. Wilting sandwiches under plastic domes.

And almost across the road, the wonderful Little Arcade, with a host of stalls, Syd Smith’s newspapers and books stall as well as the former race course jockey scales.

Thanks to Gorners the place always has an appetising smell. Pudding, chips and peas – three old shillings.

We now head to Lowe’s and Pendlebury’s stores – both a little on the posh side, but nothing less than we deserve.

We now visit two stationery shops – Starrs and Wildings, note books of every size and description, pens and pen nibs as well as books.

Time for a coffee in up-the-stairs Makinson’s Cafe at the top of town. Meals too. So many customers it sounds like a bird cage.

On both sides of Library Street are Timberlakes car show rooms, and at the top the Midland Bank. It will be years before cash machines arrive. At the bottom of Standishate there’s time to visit the multi-department Co-op premises, as well as C and A.

As most of the family and colleagues smoke, it’s time for a visit to Ashton’s tobacconist’s on Wallgate – British and foreign brands of cigarettes and Churchill-sized cigars. Soon the cinemas on King Street will be slowly flickering out, but there was, of course, the Bodega club which had a yummy

Wimpy bar...our haunt each afternoon.

Millgate had an atmosphere all of its own – and the array of little shops – including two cafes where I, as a young reporter, stretched to a generous bag of chips each day.

For more memories and musings from Geoffrey Shryhane, buy the Wigan Observer and Leigh Observer, out every Tuesday.