Stink bombs and exploding cigarettes! Memories of the Seaton magic shop

Doreen Atkinson reflects on the time when she owned and ran the famous Magic Shop.
Doreen Atkinson reflects on the time when she owned and ran the famous Magic Shop.

Magical memories of one of Hartlepool’s most famous shops have come flooding back.

We were delighted to hear from Doreen Atkinson who ran the Hartlepool magic shop, and moved it from its old home at Seaton Carew to Church Square in 1993.

Doreen Atkinson with her uncle Philip Senior outside the shop in Church Square, Hartlepool.

Doreen Atkinson with her uncle Philip Senior outside the shop in Church Square, Hartlepool.

Doreen re-lived the days when stink bombs, exploding cigarettes and hot sweets were all the rage.

The shop was originally at the far end of Seaton’s front and, in a recent appeal in our Retro section, we asked for readers to share more memories of the halcyon days of Mac’s Magic.

What a treat it was when Doreen herself replied.

She told us she used to work for an HP firm before joining the shop – which was ‘over the road from the bus stand’ – as an employee.

I am now retired but have lots of fond memories. It was a thriving business when the shows were open in Seaton Carew, then for years went into decline with no passing trade, virtually recluse.

Doreen Atkinson

She said: “It had all sorts of stuff in. A best seller was the dog poo and it looked authentic.

“We did stink bombs, hot sweets and these bangers that would explode in cigarettes.”

Not that Doreen was a practical joker herself. “I did have a sense of humour though,” she told Memory Lane.

Eventually, she took over and became a business boss and she remembered: “I was often there until late.”

But trade was sporadic and only normally picked up on very specific occasions.

“It was really good when the shows were on at Seaton. I would stay open until 10pm but as soon as the shows closed, I was waiting for passing trade.”

Jokes weren’t the only line of business either. There was a fancy dress section out the back of the building. “It was like a little cottage,” said Doreen.

Customers would ring a bell if they were ready to buy an item. And there was another section where goods such as sweets and cigarettes were sold.

Trade always picked up at certain times of year, such as the Boxing Day dip. “They would hire things like King Kong costumes and it got well washed,” she joked.

“Halloween was a good week for me as well but you had to wait all year for it to come back round again.”

When she took over the shop, she “decided to buy all the stock but I didn’t stay at Seaton because it was dying a death there,” she explained. She moved to Church Square and said: “It was in a shop called Knights.”

It all ended in 1997 and Doreen said: “I was sorry to close the business as it was the end of an era.”

It was a sad time for the shop which is believed to be where Paul Daniels got his first magic trick from. Doreen added: “I am now retired but have lots of fond memories. It was a thriving business when the shows were open in Seaton Carew, then for years went into decline with no passing trade, virtually recluse, I then decided to bring it to Church Square hoping business would pick up, but after four years decided to call it a day.”

We’ve loved Doreen’s responses and hope you have memories of your own to share. Email chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk