What's in a name? Memories of visiting Joplings in Sunderland

It was the store you all loved '“ but who remembers its staff with the famous names.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 18 July, 2018, 12:53
Norma Major meets Glen Miller - just two of the star names that worked at Joplings Store.

Joplings was, and still is, fondly remembered for serving generations of Wearsiders.

But we’re sure many of you will remember the workers who were employed there who had the same names as stars of the stage, screen and music scene.

A view of the Joplings store.

And each of them was just as well regarded as their more widely renowned counterparts. Who remembers the following.

Here’s Norma Major who was picking up an honour in 1997 after putting in 26 years of loyal service in the systems department in John Street. As our story said at the time, she had shown “loyalty and dedication to the firm” and also collected an engraved carriage clock for her efforts.

The Sunderland Echo report at the time said: “If you want to meet the stars, get yourself along to Joplings store in Sunderland.”

At the time, Norma was living in the Fulwell area and our report added: “Norma can pick from a whole host of stars to join the party.”

Joplings pictured in John Street in June 1962.

Others to have the same names as the stars of the time were Glen Miller who was living in Grindon at the time. Glen worked in the store’s maintenance department and enjoyed recording his own music.

There was Gareth Hall who was 19 at the time who was a purchase ledger clerk and had the same name as a Sunderland player of the era.

There was Anthony Quinn who was on his summer holidays when we did our story in the 1990s.

There were also a number of former employees who also shared a name with the stars, including Brenda Lee who had left and moved on to a new position in Lemington Spa.

Others who had worked at Joplings before moving on included David Cassidy and Steve Wright.

We spoke to Jean Benton back in 1997, She was the Joplings marketing manager at the time and she paid tribute to Norma Major back then.

“Norman has worked for the store for years but I had not really thought about her surname until now.

“We have had lots of famous employees with famous namesakes and I suppose it is quite unusual to have them all under one roof.”

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Our shot showed Norma Major and Glen Miller. Who else do you remember from the store.

And what are your own memories of working at Joplings? We would love to hear from you.

Here’s a reminder of what else was happening at the time.

Lucy and Bazz were declaring that they were a couple in Hollyoaks on Channel 4. Dot was at the centre of attention in EastEnders on BBC1 and the Teletubbies were compulsive BBC2 entertainment for the younger viewer.

Loxton and Keane were starring in the latest episode of The Bill on ITV, where The Riddlers and Wizadora were pulling in the younger audience.

And on Channel 5, how about Family Affairs and Sunset Beach.

Maybe live entertainment was more your style and that could have included Idols (with a Mediterranean holiday for two on offer in a competition), Finos, the McEwans Centre.

The ABC in Sunderland was showing My Girl at the Saturday Morning Cinema.

And there was stacks going on at the Thorney Close Variety Club including karaoke night every Friday, bingo on Saturdays and Sundays, and country and western nights with free line dancing.

At Ye Olde Transporter in Low Row, Tuesday night was Buskers Night, and Farringdon Social Club was holding a domino handicap with £50 added on Thursdays.

Eyes down for bingo in the lounge every Thursday at Downhill Workmens Club and there was live entertainment just about every night at Grindon Broadway Social Club.

Old Time Dancing was a big draw at the Vane Tempest Welfare Club each Sunday night, and country and western was the big attraction at Humbledon and Plains Farm Social Club on Wednesdays.

And good news was just around the corner for Sunderland manager Peter Reid.

He was closing in on a deal to capture a striker by the name of Kevin Phillips.

What are your 1997 memories? We would love to hear from you.

Share your recollections by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk