Legendary Sunderland photography business Charles Eagles and Son is to close after nearly half a century

A legendary photographic specialist shop is to close down after nearly half a century.

Tuesday, 11th February 2020, 9:04 am

Charles Eagles and Son, in Maritime Street, Sunderland city centre, will cease trading on Saturday, March 28, or earlier if all its stock is sold in a farewell sale.

Owner Brian Eagles, the son of late co-founder Charles, has agonised over the decision to close the shop for two years before finally opting to enjoy a belated retirement.

While the rise of internet shopping and camera phones have provided competition, the deaths of his father aged 94 in 2019 and son Charles, 52, who lost his battle with cancer in 2018, are more significant factors.

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Brian Eagles is set to close the family's Charles Eagles and Son photographic shop
Brian Eagles is set to close the family's Charles Eagles and Son photographic shop

Brian, 73, who lives in Durham, said: “I have worked since 1961 without a break in employment and travelled every day from Durham to Sunderland and back.

“My body is dropping to bits.

“I have had my knee replaced, I have had ankle problems where I could not put my foot down for four-and-a-half months and I want a few years to enjoy my retirement.”

Charles Eagles and Son first opened in 1972 in Crowtree Road, around the corner from its current home, after Charles and Brian were made redundant from the nearby Saxons photography firm.

Charles Eagles and Son owner Brian Eagles with staff from left Stuart Lauderdale, Robin Hunter and Peter Rickerby ahead of the shop's closure.

It moved to Maritime Street in 1982 and its reputation as a camera and accessories specialist attracted customers from Scotland, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

Brian, who is selling the premises, praised staff members Peter Rickerby, Stuart Lauderdale and Robin Hunter for their loyalty and said they are looking at forming their own photographic business.

He added: “It will be sad when it closes.

“That is why I have put it off for so long.

The first Charles Eagles and Son shop in Crowtree Road.

“The staff are like my family. Peter actually calls me dad.

“A lot of the regular customers are also sad and I’d like to thank them for their loyalty.

“One person was nearly in tears.

“A lot of them are friends rather than customers and used to come in all the time for a coffee and a chat.

Charles Eagles and Son late co-founder Charles Eagles.

“Even people who would emigrate to places like Australia and Switzerland would pop back in when they were visiting relatives.”