Get your teeth into these tasty memories of Sunderland in 1977

It was quite a day for shoppers when a bakery opened its new extended shop in Sunderland 41 years ago.

Tuesday, 16th October 2018, 11:00 am
Staff at the newly extended Simpsons shop in Stockton Road.
Staff at the newly extended Simpsons shop in Stockton Road.

So let’s take a look back at some tasty memories of the day Simpson’s opened the doors to its newly extended and refurnished Stockton Road premises in October 1977 - and a celebrity came along.

There was quite an offer for early visitors.

The new shop of Simpsons in Stockton Road.

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Simpson’s promised a free crusty loaf each to its first 50 customers as well as a free can of pop to the first 100 people who used the takeaway savoury section.

And if you got along there in the first week, you could dig in to special offers on everything from buns to stotties, and scones to snowballs.

If that wasn’t enough of a temptation to get you along, there was even a celebrity to come and open the premises. Miss UK at the time was Madeleine Stringer, a local girl, and she was making her last public appearance before she began her preparations and rehearsals as she launched her bid for the Miss World title.

Managing director Michael Simpson said at the time that there was a very specific reason why Simpson’s products were so deliciously fresh. It’s because all products were made on the premises from 7am onwards that same day and there was no baking the night before.

Madeleine Stringer opens Simpsons Bakery. Pictured with managing director Michael Simpson who presented her with a crown shaped cake made by bakery staff.

The firm’s colours of chocolate and cream were proudly on show, in new counters which displayed confectionery and crusty bread.

It was a shop that boasted six different flavours of soup at any one time, and a behind-the-scenes preparation room which was so pristine that customers were sometimes given tours.

The Stockton Road shop was one of a number on Wearside, employing more than 100 staff, and with premises at Humbledon, Gilley Law, Town End Farm, and Witherwack.

And there was another aspect which must have made a difference.

Mr Simpson added in 1977: “The smiling service offered by the experienced staff is a point not often noticed, but appreciated by customers who care.”

Come the day of the grand opening, there was an extra treat for Miss UK who was presented with a crown-shaped cake which had been made by bakery staff.

In fact, it was a week of openings and great bargains in Sunderland that week.

The new Dixon Sports unit opened inside Strand outfitters on the corner of High Street West and Crowtree Road.

There was a half price weekend at Joplings where you could get a music centre with a walnut cabinet and two speakers for £89.95, a chest freezer for £65, or a flowered kimono for £4.99.

The mid season sale was on at Binns where school ties were 35 pence, kettles were £14.95 and support stockings were down from £1.85 to 69 pence.

Had enough of window shopping? How about a relaxing drink at The Old Twenty Nine where you could enjoy live pub rock with bands such as Neon and Stealer.

Sunderland’s newest nightspot at the time was Dial Nine in Fawcett Street where DJ Adam was belting out the sounds, and where you could get a free hamburger and French fries.

There was La Strada where there was ‘records until two plus late cabaret’.

Sloans prize bingo win West Sunniside was offering free games after 6pm.

Or there was always a trip to the cinema and there were plenty of choices in Sunderland.

The 1977 hits included Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, and Elvis Presley in a double bill of Follow That Dream and Kid Galahad, both at the Fairworld.

The Spy Who Loved Me and Swiss Family Robinson were pulling them in at the Odeon and there was Futureworld and Mr Superinvisble at the ABC.

Or, if you just fancied a night in, the choice on the box included Tomorrow’s World, Top of the Pops and Happy Ever After with Terry Scott and June Whitfield on BBC 1.

When The Boat Comes In, and Cannon were among the choices later into the night on BCC 1.

The Brady Bunch, Crossroads, Emmerdale Farm, and The Roger Whittaker Show were all among the choices on Tyne Tees Television.

But what are your memories of the shops you loved on 1970s Wearside?

Get in touch and tell us more by emailing [email protected] We would love to hear from you.