Was this the best Sunderland toy shop ever?

Snorkels, steam engines, mini trains and troll dolls. You could get the lot at this Sunderland store.
Josephs toy store.Josephs toy store.
Josephs toy store.

Josephs was an absolute treasure trove. Just look at some of the amazing toys and gifts you could get there.

Gary 'Nev' Mackinnon bought a Mamod steam engine for £8 40 years ago and remembered that he had saved for ages to get it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

George Pallas recalled how customers had to go upstairs for train sets and downstairs for all the latest Subbuteo sets.

And Deb Brown recalled buying her daughter’s Sylvanian family and Little Bears toys.

How do we know? Because more than 27,000 people followed the Sunderland Echo story on social media and hundreds reacted to it.

Josephs was no ordinary shop. It was ‘an Aladdin’s cave’ said Echo follower Chris Fairley. “Got many a pair of footie boots from the sports shop back in the day.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When we asked for your memories of it, around 100 people shared their thoughts.

Railton Howes remembered the ‘model aircraft flying days. We used to fly our planes on the site of what now is where Nissan is , the old Sunderland aerodrome, happy days’.

But Josephs wasn’t just a shop where you bought toys. You could watch model trains travel merrily round a track.

Shaun Carroll said he ‘used to put a penny in the slot to watch the model trains go round! When times were so simple.But that was well before the 1980s’.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Andy Reay agreed and said: “Loved watching the train set go round and round.”

But if you were there to spend your hard-earned pocket money, you were spoiled for choice.

Just look at this list of items you remembered buying at Josephs – and this is at a store which shut more than 20 years ago.

There was;

Football boots. David Curtis had ‘great childhood memories of Saturday morning visits to the toy shop and as I got older my annual trip for birthday footie boots!’ Dolls, prams and cots, said Stacey Krager who added: “My mam ,dad and nanna spent a fortune there.” Ice skates and roller boot, said Julie Cole.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Heather Bell got her hockey stick at Josephs and said: “ Loved that shop.”

Badminton rackets. Eddie Scott got his first there.

Action Man, said Steve Powell.

Lots of Star Wars memorabilia, said Geoff Thirlwell.

Model kits, said Dave Armstrong and he should know. He got them there from 1967 to 1990.

Our thanks go to all of you who helped us with further details of Josephs such as Wendy Conlin who said: “The stores split about 1981 and the sports shop moved into the old Milburns cafe further up Holmeside. Enjoyed working there from 80-88.” Wendy’s memory is spot on and one of our photos shows a scene in 1981.

By then, Josephs had been around for 100 years of service and value. At the time, it was a sports, toy and luggage business which had acquired and completed the modernisation of a former restaurant building in Holmeside. It transferred its sports, leisure clothing and footwear department 100 yards along the road. Remember the store?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Malcolm Richardson had a great time there and remembered the days of Matchbox, Corgi, Dinky, Scalextric, Hornby and Airfix models, adding: “Heaven.”

We would love more of your memories of a great store and we’re wondering – was it really the best ever toy shop in Sunderland’s past?

And there are the toys not mentioned by our social media followers. What was that toy or game you remember most fondly from your childhood?

Whatever your view, tell us more by emailing [email protected]