My Grandfather’s Shoe Shop
These buildings were where my grandfather, Gordon Parkin, had his shoe shop.
Started by Henry Parkin
The business was started by my grandfather’s father, my great grandfather, Henry Parkin, sometime after he moved to Kirkby with his family in 1897, see Chapter 1. Henry Parkin was listed as a bootmaker in the 1898 Kelly’s Directory.
According to a news article at the time of his death in 1957, see Chapter 65, Henry Parkin “moved to Kirkby in 1897 from Hucknall, and commenced a boot and shoe repairing business in a wooden hut at the junction of Portland Street and Low Moor Road. Subsequently, he moved to premises in Station Street, which still bear the Parkin name, and in addition to repairing, also established a boot and shoe retail business“.
Grandad Worked in His Father’s Business
From the time his diaries start, in 1914, when he was 16, grandad was working in his father’s business, see Chapter 2. Grandad worked mostly in the workshop and his brother, Cyril, worked mostly in the shop. They gradually took over the business from their father. The 1928 Kelly’s Directory lists the business as Parkin Brothers, bootmakers, located at 70-76 Station Street.
In 1933, Cyril left the business, see Chapter 13. From then, grandad ran it on his own. According to the details from 1942, Charles G Parkin was a bootmaker and was occupying 72-76 Station Street. The same entry appears in the 1941 Kelly’s Directory. Parkin Shoes appears on Jacques’ List of Station Street retailers circa 1920-1940.
Photos of Grandad’s Shop
I do not have many photos of the front of grandad’s shop. The ones I do have seem to have been taken during a carnival around 1939 or when he paid Armstrongs £1 to deliver a piano through the first-floor window above the shop in 1937. There are also some photos of the back yard including of the aviary grandad built around 1939 and the hammock mum had up in the yard in around 1948.
Memories of Grandad’s Shop
In her book(let) “I Also Remember“, Edith Searson notes “as we leave these smaller shops, we are at the door of Henry Parkin’s Boot and Shoe shop. This is a family business, and includes a repairs service. After trading several years, this business was taken over by Fred and Sadie Flint. They too were in the business several years, and finally, Gordon and Gwen Sugg took over this Boot and Shoe business which is the oldest established business of it’s kind in the town. Gordon and Gwen are still busy.”
Selling the Business
In her diaries, mum noted that, in the early 1950s, she sometimes helped in grandad’s shop, see Chapter 55, as she had done since she was quite young. At this point, she was working for Kirkby Cooperative Manufacturing (KCM). In May 1955, she switched to part-time work at KCM, see Chapter 61, so that she could help more in the shop at a time when grandad was ill, see Chapter 65. In November 1955, she left KCM to work full-time at the shop. From this point on, grandad’s health meant that he struggled to return to work. Although mum and dad considered taking the shop on, they decided not to. In January 1958, grandad sold the business to Fred Flint, as noted by Edith Searson, and see Chapter 60.
In January 1959, about a year after Fred Flint bought the shop, grandad noted that there had been a fire at the premises and the fire brigade were called.
As noted by Edith Searson, Gordon Sugg took over the business from Fred Flint. Grandad noted that this was in 1963.
The Trials and Tribulations of A Small Retailer
Gordon Suggs wrote an autobiographical book(let) called “The Trials and Tribulations of a Small Retailer“. This describes his life and family in some detail. He also explains (p31) moving his shops from Kingsway to Station Street in 1963. Apparently, he did this because he was looking for larger premises and because rents were increasing on Kingsway. He needed to borrow some money to make the purchase. When his bank declined to lend him the money, he borrowed the money from Barclays and switched his account to them. He took over the Station Street business on 17 June 1963 and continued with the Kingsway business too for a further fifteen months before closing that. Over the coming years, he expanded his business considerably opening shops in both Sutton and Alfreton. He finally retired in 1989.
Memories of Gordon Sugg
In comments on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Richard Evans recalled buying his first pair of “grown up” blue suede shoes from Sugg’s in Kingsway. He recalled “Mr Suggs” as “a lovely man who never forgot a foot“. Melanie Millington recalled loving being a “Saturday girl” at Sugg’s in Station Street. She commented that she “used to look in the small department store opposite in my lunch hour. Also go to the library to do extra homework. Challans was very posh, bought presents for my mum there. Think it was a thriving shopping centre then.“
Marty Parish recalled that his grandmother always bought her shoes from Suggs and “I’m sure at Parkins before that“. Kathleen Jeacock noted that she always had her school shoes from there. Jan Quigley noted that they “always used Suggs for our shoes. Loved the balloons we got in the box. Mum saved up family allowance for them“. Apparently, Gordon Sugg used to put a balloon in each box of children’s shoes. Christine Wright noted that, “as a family we had little money but always had our shoes from here“. She also remembered the free balloon. Jenni Revill Smith recalled her mother taking her there for shoes. Jane Burchell noted the same and that she, in turn, took her own children. Jeanette Carter did the same. She noted that Mrs Sugg always remembered her name and the name of her sons.
David Meredith also recalled his sports’ shop on Kingsway saying “it’s where I bought my first real archery bow from equipped with real arrows“.
One of the things that contributors on Facebook remembered about Gordon Suggs shop was that they measured your feet there. For example, Pam Breedon remembered this. I recall that this was something mum was very insistent on, presumably learned from grandad.
Memories of the Suggs
Jane Powell noted that Gordon and Gwen Sugg were great friends with her mum and dad and they visited them in Indonesia. Gordon referred to this trip on his book(let) “The Trials and Tribulations of a Small Retailer“ (p47). This was in 1989 and they visited Jakarta for one night when they were on their way back from New Zealand.
Jane noted that she has some lovely stitch work made by Gwen“. Christine Redfern referred to her as “an amazing needle woman“.
The Parkin Family and Living at the Shop in Station Street
Based on the 1901 census, grandad was living with his family at 20 Victoria Road, see Chapter 3.
In 1901, George and Eleanor M Wragg were living at 70 Station Street. George was listed as a coal miner (loader). Two other loaders were boarding with them, William Scott and Frank (surname not known). No-one was listed at 72 Station Street. James and Harriet Richardson were at 74 Station Street with their four children, William (b1882), Thomas R (b1888), George (b1890) and Lily (b1892). James was a farm labourer (yardman), William was a coal miner (ganger) and Thomas R did general work on a farm. George and Bertha Best were living at 76 Station Street with their two children Cyril G (b1890) and Agnes M (b1893). George was working as a coal miner (loader).
However, by 1911, grandad was living with his parents and his three next-youngest siblings, Eva, Cyril and Len, at 70-76 Station Street. Henry is listed as a boot manufacturer and dealer, Len as boot shop manager and Cyril as assistant boot shop manager. Grandad’s oldest sister, Olive, was married and living in Welbeck Street with her husband, John Smith, and son, Leonard. Grandad’s oldest brother James Henry was also married and living with his wife Annie and their two children, Gordon and Ethel, at 67 The Hill.
According to grandad’s diary, the family moved to 54 Welbeck Street in December 1915.
According to the 1921 census, see Chapter 24, Henry, Sarah and grandad were living at 54 Welbeck Street, as were grandad’s sister Eva and her husband Arthur Evans. John and Olive lived next door at 56 Welbeck Street. Len and his wife, Ethel, were at Alfred Street, Riddings and Cyril was listed as living at 3 Welbeck Street with his wife, Minnie, and their son, Basil. Based on the 1921 electoral register, Len was living with his wife, Ethel, at 64 Forest Street. However, they do not seem to appear there on the 1921 census.
In the 1921 census, grandad’s oldest brother, James Henry Parkin and his family were listed at 76 Station Street. James was listed as a motor lorry driver at Kirkby Colliery. At this point, he was the only family member living above the shop. However, two Salvation Army Officers, Catherine R Wright and Ada E Furr were listed as living at 72A Station Street.
According to grandad’s diary, in 1924, his brother Len moved to Ollerton.
In 1925, grandad moved himself. Based on electoral registers, he was living with his father and mother at 158 Diamond Avenue. His sister, Eva, and her husband Arthur Evans were next door at 160 with his other sister, Olive, and her husband John at 162, see Chapter 24.
Grandma and grandad married in 1930 and they lived on Diamond Avenue. However, in 1931, when grandma was unwell they moved in temporarily with grandma’s parents at 61 Milton Street. Similarly, in 1937, after grandma’s mother had died, they moved in temporarily with grandad’s father at 96 Welbeck Street. However, when he died, they moved to the shop in Station Street which is where mum remembered growing up.
In 1939, grandad (Charles Gordon Parkin) and grandma (Ethel May Cecilia Parkin) were registered as living at number 74. Mum (Sheila May Parkin) was there too although her record on the 1939 Register is closed. Grandad was listed as a boot and shoe retail dealer and repairer.
According to the 1939 Register, Harold Green and his wife Edith M, both ladies hairdressers were living at 70-72 Station Street with their daughter Beryl (b1924) and a domestic servant Elsie J Hall. They also had a son, Clifford (“Cliff”), but he was not registered as living with them in 1939.
Mum Recalled Playing with Beryl
Mum recalled playing with Beryl even though mum was ten years younger than her. There are photos of them playing together. In May 1938, grandad noted that Beryl had pushed him into a pond!
Beryl Died Aged 16
Beryl had Down syndrome and, in July 1941, she died aged just 16. Mum was sent to family friend’s Tom and Annie Holmes for a week and, during that time, Beryl was buried. Mum, who was seven at the time, was not involved in the funeral and it appears that no-one explained to her what had happened.
It must have seemed to her that one minute her friend was there and the next she was gone. She wrote on the back of one of the photographs, “Beryl lived next door to us at Station Street… She died but I have no idea when or how. It wasn’t talked about in those days”. Among her papers, there was a newspaper cutting about Beryl’s death. This shows that not only did grandma and grandad attend the funeral but so did other family members Eva, Arthur, Olive and Roy Evans and Olive, John, Len and Dolly Smith, see Chapter 29.
In August 2023, on a visit to Kirkby, I thought I would look to see if I could find Beryl’s grave in Kingsway New Cemetery as I was visiting other family graves there. I did manage to locate it although the writing is somewhat faded.
In 1941 and 1942, at number 70, was a ladies’ hairdressers run by Mrs Edith Green.
I also came across a hairdressers at number 70 called Madame (later Madam) May. Madame May appears on Jacques’ List of Station Street retailers circa 1920-1940.
Edith Searson Remembered Madame May
Initially, I thought they were different businesses but Edith Searson, in her book(let) “I Also Remember” noted that Mrs Green of Hucknall traded as ‘Madame May‘. She noted that it was one of many hairdressing salons that popped up in all towns with the change in hairdressing styles in the 1920s. She noted that it had grown and was still busy.
Other Memories of Madame May
Several contributors on Facebook had personal recollections of Madame May’s.
Memories of Customers
These included that having a perm took nearly all day. Perms tended to be reserved for special occasions, such as Christmas and summer with “sets” every week if money permitted. Home perms were also available. One member noted that “back then they [home perms] had metal curlers the perming solution stunk awful“.
Colleen Varnam Flint recalled going there with her mum and thought she had her first perm there. Brenda Sharman noted going there every Saturday to have her hair done. She was not the only one. Tracy Burton noted, “mum always had her hair done here on a Sat morning“. However, not everyone went regularly. Dot Grice noted going there once or twice.
Mostly Fond Memories
Most memories of the salon were relatively fond, for example June Freeman noted, “I used to go to Madam May’s in my teens. I had my first perm there. I can still feel those heavy electric things in my hair!” Jennifer Colledge recalled the “hot permy smell. With lacquer and smelly setting lotion.” Another contributor noted, “I remember my mam taking me there for a perm. The heavy irons in our hair.. oh my!!” Several people recalled that Madam May did their hair for their weddings.
Sometimes Less Fond
However, Lesley Atherton commented, “I remember going once there and she cut my hair different to what I had it. I was starting… school the September and I wouldn’t take my hood off I hated it“! Another contributor on Facebook noted that “I think I went there when I had the spider cut when I got home I ran up stairs and slammed my bedroom door crying, and I didn’t want my mam to see it ‘cos I hated it.” She also recalled that when young she had referred to the salon as “mad and may“.
Christine Evans commented, “I had a perm done in there when I was 16 I wanted a shaggy 80s style but after perming and drying they styled it into a sort of buffant on top of my head it looked something out the 60s not 80s and I was mortified, I practically ran home hoping no one would see me and went straight in the bath and washed my hair, now us ladies knew we wasn’t supposed to wash our hair for 2 days after a perm but I didn’t care there was no way I was going out like that, once I let it dry naturally into spiral curls it looked lovely and funnily enough was the best and longest lasting perm I ever had.” Sharon Ellis had a similar experience, “sounds exactly like what happened to me. I was 17 and wanted a loose perm but I ended up looking like Ena Sharples off Corrie. It was awful and aged me about 50yrs. I was so embarrassed to walk home I hated it. Took a good few months before it looked how I’d wanted it to in the first place. I never had a perm since.“
An Eventful Trip
Sometimes, trips to Madam May’s were eventful. Bet-Bet Phillips recalled, “Carol was doing me a perm and we got to the drying stage and the electric went off the whole of Station Street went black she went outside came back and said one shop had electric so I went out head wrapped in towel bus queue outside all cheering and went down the road to green grocers and sat on bag of potatoes to have my hair finished we had quite a laugh they didn’t understand why they had electric and no one else had it was talk at carols for a while“.
Memories of Working There
Laurine Stafford, Diane Waterhouse and Wendy Finlayson worked at Madame May’s. Laurine commented, “I worked at Madam Mays in the 70s on a Friday after school and all day Saturday, from 6 am to 7 pm , that’s when salons was open long hours, I remember the ladies bringing their sachets of Beer shampoo“. Diane noted, “I worked for Carol at Madame May’s when I left school, did my apprenticeship there. It was her grandma’s hairdressers before Phylis took over she was the Original Madame May“. Wendy recalled that it was her first job after leaving school and that she later worked at Johns.
Natalie Ann Cornish recalled that she and Samantha Waring Hudson helped out there many, many years ago. Kathryn Chapman recalled that her sister Elaine Sweeney worked at Madame May.
Jane Burchell noted that her mum went there in the fifties when Madame May was Phyllis West. By the seventies, it was Carol Green. Jane herself worked across the road for Hilda Copeland. Steph Banks noted that she went for a Saturday job as a “shampoo girl” at Madam May’s but they did not need anyone. She did get a job at John’s.
Madame May/Edith Green Once Cut Grandad’s Hair
On 10 June 1933, Mrs Green cut grandad’s hair… and cut his hear. He notes that this was “a great joke” although I am not sure why!!
Create Your Day and Coffee N Cream
Now, the bridal shop, Create Your Day occupies 74-76 and the café Coffee N Cream occupies 70-72. Create Your Day appear to have been there since at least June 2015, although at the start, the sign had not gone up but there were wedding dresses in the window.
Similarly, Coffee N Cream have been there since June 2015 at least. However, the sign saying Coffee N Cream seems to have been missing since at least August 2021.
The Booking Centre/Kirkby Travel and Surreal
Between October 2008 and April 2011 at least, the Booking Centre/Kirkby Travel occupied 74-76 Station Street. Over the same period, the salon Surreal were at 70-72 Station Street.
Memories of the Booking Centre and Kirkby Travel
On November 18 2023, Alwyn Bowskill asked members of the Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group if they recalled a travel agents shop in this location. Many did. Tracey Bramley recalled booking concerts with them. Carrie Martin recalled booking Smash Hits Poll Winners Party tickets through them in the late 80s/early 90s. Clare Howlett recalled booking Butlins with them 24 years ago and it cost £49 per person for four nights. Jenny Keeling recalled booking through them to see Pocahontas on Ice in Sheffield. Sandra Payne recalled booking Skills coach tickets to Scarborough from there.
Lou Sarah recalled doing work experience there in 1995. Bobby “Moore” Buxton noted that it started off half travel half clothes and that there was a “lovely lady Ann Chamberlain” working on the clothes side. Sandra Playford recalled that parcels were dropped off there and that before this it was a shop selling baby clothes, possibly Simpsons. Steve Mcgough recalled that Kirkby Travel was owned by someone called Terry. Deborah Goodwin recalled that his surname was Brentnall.
Memories of Surreal
Jan Quigley noted that she used to use Surreal until it closed.
Simpsons Ladies’ and Children’s Fashions
In the eighties, it appears that Simpsons Ladies and Children’s Fashions occupied 70-76 Station Street.