One of the prime shopping sites in Sunderland’s city centre is the area at the south end of the Central railway station, writes Philip Curtis from the Sunderland Antiquarian Society.
But until the late 1960s, it was the north end of the station in High Street West which was the far greater commercial site.
It was dominated by a large canopy. Under it was the taxi rank and office but at the front were two shops – J Stephenson’s who specialised in bread and cakes and Finlay’s, the tobacconist.
The red luggage metal-strip machine in the entrance was also a magnet to school children who could print out their names for one shilling.
J Stephenson’s traded in High Street West until 1967. The business began in the late 1890s when James Stephenson went into partnership with a Monkwearmouth baker, William Smith, and a large bakery was established on the corner of Church Street North and Dundas Street.
James eventually took over and his son, also James, became the managing director in 1935. The firm expanded with James’ interests extending including, at one time, the part ownership of Meng’s Restaurant in Fawcett Street with WS Martin.
James Stephenson’s grandson, Derek, opened his own shop in Church Street North. Smith & Stephenson’s traded until the late 1950s when the bakery closed and a garage run by Thomas Cooper’s haulage business took over.
The shop in High Street West carried on serving Wearsiders until 1967 when the whole of the north entrance to the station was demolished.
Littlewood’s department store was then built on the site and opened in October 1967.
Littlewood’s initially did well but once The Bridges shopping mall was built the lack of footfall in this area eventually brought the closure of the store.
Today a pound store occupies the premises.