Former Joplings worker composes song to remember closed Sunderland department store

The former Joplings site in Sunderland city centre.
The former Joplings site in Sunderland city centre.
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The wonder of a Wearside tradition will not be forgotten as a song to mark Joplings’ place in the city’s heart helps celebrate a staff reunion.

Sheena Robson is organising a second get together for workers from the Sunderland department store after last year’s event was a huge success with more than 180 gathering together to remember their time at the shop.

It closed down on John Street in 2010 after serving shoppers at various premises in Sunderland for more than 200 years.

Among those to have started their careers there was Glenn Miller, from Farringdon, who began serving customers as a 16-year-old YTS boy in 1985 and went on to work with its delivery team, then maintenance department.

The 47-year-old, who now works as a warehouseman for Asda’s ADC depot in Washington, will perform a song he wrote to mark Joplings place in the city’s history at the gathering.

‘Santa Lives at John Street’ was first penned as a Christmas song and may yet get a charity release after it was recorded at St Chad’s Church in East Herrington with the help of pianist Graham Brown and East Herrington Primary Academy’s choir, led by Nicola Hair.

Former Joblings worker and singer-songwriter Glenn Miller

Former Joblings worker and singer-songwriter Glenn Miller

Glenn - who is dad to Jordan, 26, Jade, 24, and Holy, 14 - said: “It’s about the whole place, but also about me going to see Santa and then taking my kids.

“My old colleagues have said they found it really emotional, but it’s not depressing.

“I know I’ve been a worker at Joplings, but anyone from Sunderland would say it rang true for them.”

Glenn, who came up with a song by his managers as part of the shop’s Children in Need campaign in 1998, has also written a tune to back Asda’s Tickled Pink appeal, which was performed for its bosses.

The thing about Jopling, and I’ve worked in other, different places, was that everybody had a camaraderie and everyone was there for each other.

Sheena Robson

The reunion event, which will include a disco run by Glenn, will be held in the function room of Port of Call in Park Lane.

Sheena, who worked at the business from 1990 until 2007 as its electrical manager then group warehouse and transport manager, now runs Essentialz bespoke children’s clothing shop in Stanhope Road, South Shields.

The 55-year-old, from Whitburn, said: “The thing about Joplings, and I’ve worked in other, different places, was that everybody had a camaraderie and everyone was there for each other.

“It was such a massive part of Sunderland, it was the only store where you could get everything, clothing, furniture and electrical goods, and the difference was if you came back with something or came in again, you got a personal service, and that’s something you don’t get in the same way any more.”

Glenn Miller, pictured in 1998, when he penned a song on behalf of Joplings in aid of Children in Need.

Glenn Miller, pictured in 1998, when he penned a song on behalf of Joplings in aid of Children in Need.

The reunion will be held on Saturday, March 4, from 7pm.

Tickets are £10 and can be bought by calling Sheena on 07984 644 279 or from A Taste of Home in Olive Street.

A snap taken of Joplings toy fair.

A snap taken of Joplings toy fair.

Joplings in the aftermath of the blaze which tore through the High Street premises in December 1954.

Joplings in the aftermath of the blaze which tore through the High Street premises in December 1954.

A Joplings Christmas breakfast in December 1985.

A Joplings Christmas breakfast in December 1985.

Children and Santa in Joplings Grotto, November 1994.

Children and Santa in Joplings Grotto, November 1994.