Back to the past in Blandford Street with a look at Bedan, Dacks and Kate Elwen

Bergs, Bedans and Blacklocks are names you might well remember.

They all belonged in the same Sunderland street which still stands after 180 years of history.

Philip Curtis, from Sunderland Antiquarian Society, reports.

Blandford Street was built in the 1840s and has hosted traders such as Blacklock’s the jewellers, Leadbitter’s the chemists, and Arrowsmith’s bookshop.

Bergs and Len Duns are among the shops in view in this 1961 Blandford Street scene. Photo: Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

The street is believed to have been named after the Marquis of Blandford, the eldest son of the Duke of Marlborough.

The street was initially houses and was dubbed “the short cut to the station” because of the town’s Central Station which opened around the corner in 1879.

Eight years later, the Blandford House pub opened and, by the end of the 19th Century, the street was mainly shops as traders benefited from the increasing footfall from the railway.

It soon became one of the thriving shopping areas of the town and, by the 1950s, most of the businesses in the street were household names.

What do you remember of Blandford Street's shops of the past, such as Bedan's pictured on the left? Photo: Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

These included Blacklock’s the jewellers, Leadbitter’s the chemists, Arrowsmith’s bookshop, Bedan Fashions, Fred Stewart’s fireplace shop, Hector Grabham’s the decorators and Dack’s who dealt in typewriters.

Sheet music was available at Katie Elwen’s, whilst at the south side of the street on the corner stood Bergs, directly across the road from Knightall’s furniture store.

The street boasted Sunderland’s first Wimpey Bar, which, when first opened, would not allow entry after 10pm to females who were

Which shops do you remember from this Blandford Street scene? Photo: Sunderland Antiquarian Society.


Grantham’s furniture carpet shop and A. Hector Grabham’s paint and wallpaper store graced the north side of the street.

Arguably the busiest shop was Arrowsmith’s bookshop which was between Smythe’s the bakers and Bedan Fashion.

Blandford Street at Christmas in the 60s. Photo: Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

Joe Arrowsmith began with a stall in the old market down High Street East before opening a penny library in Hendon and, by the 1950s, the

family had a book and magazine stall in Jacky White’s market as well as their shop in Blandford Street.

Although the street is still a shopping parade, the well-known family owned shops of the past are long gone and, with part of the street having

recently been destroyed in a fire, a number of the old premises are now occupied by charity shops.

However, the pub, now called The Blandford, is still going strong and businesses are working hard in an attempt to recapture the atmosphere that existed there over a half a century ago.

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Our thanks go to Philip. The story of Blandford Street features in the latest monthly newsletter which is circulated to members of the Antiquarian Society. It is packed with many more great reads and you can enjoy them by signing up to the society.

The society holds extensive archives which were amassed and donated by the people of Sunderland.

To find out more about the Antiquarian Society, visit its Facebook page or

To apply to become a member, email [email protected]

To share your own memories of Sunderland over the years, email [email protected]