New Chapter for Beavans; Store Reclaims Place at Heart of the Community

Article excerpt

BEAVANS store opened in Shields Road, Byker, nearly a century ago, in 1910 in fact, and although it has stood empty since 2005, it is once again to become the hub of a thriving community.

Although this time, instead of being the iconic store it once was, it has been turned into 30 homes.

But memories of the days when shoppers travelled from all over Tyneside to visit not only Beavans, but also Parrishes, are reflected by a former employee of Beavans, Madge Davies, who is more than pleased to see her old stomping ground back in the business of helping people.

"Happy days," says Madge, now 83, and remembering her days behind the counter at Beavans with affection.

"It is nice to see the old building being made good use of," Madge goes on.

"I worked in the children's department, in 1946, as a first sales assistant.

"Mr Henry Beavan, although disabled, used to visit all the departments with his secretary, every Thursday. "He always liked staff to have a smile on their faces.

"He was a very kind-hearted man. When I got married, he had a dressmaker make my wedding dress for me and sent a lot of wedding presents to my home.

"That was in 1947 and I was very grateful because, so soon after the war, utility and household goods were in very short supply. …