Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Newcastle's Landmark Golden Girl Turns 80; TONY HENDERSON Looks at the History of a Golden Girl Who Has Become Part of a Firm's - and Newcastle's - Heritage

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Newcastle's Landmark Golden Girl Turns 80; TONY HENDERSON Looks at the History of a Golden Girl Who Has Become Part of a Firm's - and Newcastle's - Heritage

Article excerpt

SHE turns 80 this year and she has been as good as gold from the moment she joined the ranks of a city centre business. Over the years she has become one of Newcastle's best-known figures as she poses, Venuslike, on top of the clock outside the Northern Goldsmiths store on the corner of Pilgrim Street and Blackett Street.

Finished in 24-carat gold leaf, she captured the imagination of the young Christopher Goulding.

"When I was a kid my mother would drag me around the shops and in those days the buildings were black with soot," says Christopher, now an English teacher at Newcastle Royal Grammar School.

"I have memories of how the golden clock and figure stood out more than it does now."

Christopher used the golden girl as one of the main characters in his children's book Tinseltoon, in which she comes to life on Christmas Eve and sprinkles magic dust on other Newcastle statues so that they too spring into action. Now she and her clock have been restored and reinstalled at the store, which is in the middle of a PS1m makeover.

It closed in April so that work could start and is due to reopen in July.

The listed building, dating from 1892, is now part of the 111-store national Goldsmiths estate.

The Newcastle shop was opened as a family business by Thomas Cooke, whose father came from Dalton in Northumberland.

Thomas hired a young architect called James Cacket to design the store for the Pilgrim Street junction.

His first week's takings were PS155. By 1973-74 the annual turnover was PS2m.

Before starting Northern Goldsmiths and Silversmiths, Thomas traded as a jeweller in New Bridge Street under the name of Field & Co.

Chris Goulding > Thomas was also a founding director of Tilley's restaurant in Blackett Street and had been elected to Newcastle Council.

In 1907 Thomas's second son, Crossley, joined Northern Goldsmiths. He was called after his godfather, the Northumbrian James Crossley Eno, who invented and made a fortune from Eno's Fruit Salts. …

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