Do you remember the Jopling’s Christmas Parade?

Panto stars Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies taking part in the Jopling's Santa Parade.
Panto stars Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies taking part in the Jopling's Santa Parade.
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Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas these days without tear-jerker TV adverts, Black Friday sales and houses strewn with flashing lights.

But back in the 1970s and 80s, the festive season only really got under way after Santa paid his first visit to the town – courtesy of the Jopling’s Parade.

It's all smiles as panto stars Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies raise a toast to Christmas with civic leaders - and Santa himself.

It's all smiles as panto stars Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies raise a toast to Christmas with civic leaders - and Santa himself.

Wearsiders in their thousands would line the streets to welcome Father Christmas, who was usually accompanied by assorted stars of stage, screen and TV.

In one memorable year Doctor Who himself, in the form of Tom Baker, played the role of Santa’s helper, waving at crowds from a open-top Land Rover.

But in this series of photos from 1982, it was the turn of two stars from TV’s It Ain’t Half Hot Mum to help welcome Santa to Sunderland.

“Melvyn Hayes and Windsor Davies were performing in a stage version of the show in Sunderland at the time,” said photographic archivist Susan Swinney.

Santa passes Books Fashions store during his 1982 trip around Sunderland.

Santa passes Books Fashions store during his 1982 trip around Sunderland.

“The show smashed 20-year box office records, and the pair’s appearance in the parade brought people out in their droves.”

Santa, as the VIP star of the Jopling’s procession, paraded through the town in a 1939 Austin Goodwood, kindly provided by Newton Hall Motor Museum.

But, following close behind him, were the It Ain’t Half Hot Mum actors, who were provided with a 1960 white Rolls-Royce Corniche as their ride for the night.

“Sunderland always became a Winter Wonderland with the arrival of the Jopling’s Santa, and the parade really helped add to the magic,” said Susan.

Santa meets one very happy Wearsider - Barbara McClennan. Barbara was a journalist on the Echo at the time, but later became a councillor and served as Mayoress in 2012-13.

Santa meets one very happy Wearsider - Barbara McClennan. Barbara was a journalist on the Echo at the time, but later became a councillor and served as Mayoress in 2012-13.

“But, although the Joplings Santa was legendary, there was always an on-going rivalry with the Mr Claus who welcomed kids to the Liverpool House store!

“There is no argument, however, over the popularity of the Empire’s panto in 1982 – as it starred Melvyn and Windsor and was a sell-out success.”

Joplings Santa Parade reaches Brougham Street, near Sunderland Central Rail Station, in 1982.

Joplings Santa Parade reaches Brougham Street, near Sunderland Central Rail Station, in 1982.

Joplings Santa Parade passing the Dun Cow in 1982.

Joplings Santa Parade passing the Dun Cow in 1982.

The Joplings Santa Parade passes Williams and Glyn's Bank in 1982.

The Joplings Santa Parade passes Williams and Glyn's Bank in 1982.

Sunderland Empire 1982 panto stars with dancers from the Kathleen Davis Dancing School.  Left to right:  Kristy McDonald (9), Claire Bramley (8), Kim Dormand (8) and Kelly McDonald (11) with Melvyn Hayes ,Joy Launor Heyes and Windsor Davies.

Sunderland Empire 1982 panto stars with dancers from the Kathleen Davis Dancing School. Left to right: Kristy McDonald (9), Claire Bramley (8), Kim Dormand (8) and Kelly McDonald (11) with Melvyn Hayes ,Joy Launor Heyes and Windsor Davies.