It was a magical place to be ... who loved a visit to Joseph’s toy store?

Michael Joseph in the Holmeside store in 1997.
Michael Joseph in the Holmeside store in 1997.

Childhood days at a toy shop have shaped many a young life, and here’s one place which will never be forgotten by a generation of Wearsiders.

Joseph’s toy shop may be long gone – it closed in the late 1990s – but it has stuck in the memory for its superb range of Airfix models and paints, its supply of Subbuteo equipment and teams and its extremely helpful staff.

Street view of Holmeside in 1998.

Street view of Holmeside in 1998.

How good was it? “It was a Tardis that place,” said Steve Henderson, who was referring to the fact it had everything you could imagine inside one building.

Peter A Lusby said: “Loved that shop, spent many hours browsing right up to the time it closed for the last time.”

And Julie Garland said: “It was like Aladdin’s Cave. Loved this shop.”

We reached more than 28,000 people when we asked for your memories and shared a photograph on social media.

Such fantastic memories. I loved this shop when I was little, just an Aladdin’s cave of children’s magic

Susan Ophield

More than 500 of you reacted to the post, and when we posted a photograph of Michael Joseph – one of the members of the family behind the business – plenty of you wanted to tell us more.

June Milburn said she “started working in Joseph’s in 1976 when I left school. I worked on the model railway counter, Michael Joseph was a lovely man, a true gent! X”.

Adeleine Stubbs said: “I remember his dad used to come into Smythes cake shop in Blandford Street about 1955 they had a shop on corner of Union Street. He was a lovely man!!”

Stuart Wilson had extra reason to remember the shop. “I remember being presented with a toy James Bond car there after being one of the winners in an Echo competition, quite a few years ago!”

Thanks also to Liz Ayre Harrison who said: “Worked for them for 5 years till I left to have my children in 1984. They were behind the times hand written receipts and they worked us hard but I loved it x.”

Lovers of model making adored the place and came forward in their droves to share their memories.

David Chiffy Punshon said: “Bought all my Airfix models and tiny paints there,” while Stephen Blakelock said: “Bought a few Subbuteo teams and Airfix models from Joseph’s.”

And then there were those of you who loved sport of the table top variety. Neil Robson said: “Home of Subbuteo, class.”

Terry Ward bought “many a Subbuteo team from Josephs and he was always stood behind the counter”.

Tom Booth remembered the skateboard section under the stairs, while Susan Ophield said: “Such fantastic memories. I loved this shop when I was little, just an Aladdin’s cave of children’s magic.”

Jon P Bonallie remembered the “joke shop carousel, and the only place I could get “Caps” for those who remember.”

Jackie Dunstone told us: “Remember my mam used to take us there for Xmas toys and a birthday treat,” while Lesley Cook said: “Proper shop with lovely people.”

While Margaret Miller commented: “My two daughters loved Joseph’s on a Saturday. Their pocket money was nearly always spent there.x”

Ian Smith spent his Saturday mornings in Joseph’s and said: “Happy memories,” while John Adams had “so many happy memories of here and Lermans!”.

Jean Holdsworth said: “My son loved that shop then left school and started working there,” and Phil Jones told us: “My favourite shop as a kid. Absolutely loved the place, great memories.”

Angela Carter reminisced: “My grandfather was a good pal of Mr Joseph Senior, Monty. A lovely gentleman.”

Thanks also to Jennifer Anne Craggs, who said: “Worked there for five years as a student, loved it.”

Since it shut in the 1990s, the store has been turned into various bars including The White Rooms and Plugged Inn before it became a pub named Joseph’s.

The Joseph’s family business was set up by Benjamin Joseph in 1881 and over the years, the family ran stores in South Street and Union Street, before relocating to Holmeside in the Sixties.

Angela Dalzell said: “Loved Joseph’s, brilliant toy store,” and John George King called it “a fantastic shop”.

Lynette Gunn said she had “many, many memories” of it and called the Joseph’s a “lovely family”.

Which store was your favourite from the years gone by?

Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk