Frankie Vaughan used the bus

A busy scene outside A Walker butchers at the corner of Musgrave Street and Lynn Street. Whitfield's chemist on the left of the picture
A busy scene outside A Walker butchers at the corner of Musgrave Street and Lynn Street. Whitfield's chemist on the left of the picture

I WORKED at M W Whitfield’s from St George’s Day 1951 until I was three months pregnant with my daughter in 1956.

Firstly in Lynn Street, then at the dispensary-only premises in Victoria Road, which is still in use.

I was asked to leave because the doctor told me not to climb step ladders or lift heavy weights.

As well as selling branded goods we made a range of ointments and formula medicines at both branches.

The Lynn Street shop also held a drinks licence, selling own brand wines and commercial spirits, and tobacco goods.

A woman from Greatham used to run a Christmas club collecting around friends and neighbours at Greatham.

One year she took ill and I was sent to collect payments from the customers.

On Christmas Eve we opened late to give customers time to collect their wares.

Walker’s the butchers also worked late, auctioning off their remaining stock.

I could never understand people waiting till the last minute to buy their Christmas dinners.

At Lynn Street I helped the police trap a shop lifter.

She used to ask for face powder or lipstick, chopping and changing which shade she wanted, having us constantly turning our backs to her to look for another shade.

When the police caught up with her at her office in Church Street, as well as quite a few goods from us they found items from Binns.

Our most famous customer was Frankie Vaughan, who lodged at Seaton Carew while appearing at The Empire.

He used to get off the bus in front of the shop and come in for stage make-up.

Gloria Wainwright,

Fenton Road,

Hartlepool.