Shopping for piece of history

The Northern Echo: Some of the contents from the shop on display at Tennants Some of the contents from the shop on display at Tennants

THE contents of one of the North-East’s oldest and most traditional village grocery shops are to be auctioned on Saturday.

There are tins, mirrors, medicine bottles, postcards, ledgers and advertising displays from 100 years ago when a traditional grocer doubled as a draper, newsagent, teadealer, apothecary and fancy goods dealer.

The Northern Echo:

They come from a well-known shop in Osmotherley which was founded in 1786 by Edward Thompson. It closed in 2004 when Grace Thompson, the sixth generation of shopkeepers, retired, and has been untouched since.

Tennants of Leyburn, which is handling the sale, is most excited about the set of large, domed tin tea caddies with painted oriental scenes which could make more than £1,000.

“I have never sold a set of ten tea jars before with views on,” said auctioneer Rodney Tennant.

“My grandparents were grocers in Middleham and I thought this stuff had died out with that era.”

The Northern Echo:

A pile of little bags, with Thompson’s name on them, waits to be filled with the customer’s own blend of tea from the jars, and a countertop string dispenser, advertising Cadbury’s Cocoa Essence, waits to help wrap up the purchase in brown paper and string.

The Northern Echo:

A two-and-a-half foot tall tin HP sauce bottle from about 1910 is also extremely rare, and there is a 4lb drum which once contained Dainty Dinah toffees.

The Northern Echo:

Made by George Horner in Chester-le- Street, Dinah was a North-East icon, and the drum boasts that the toffee is the “daintiest of sweetmeats. The flavour is smooth, creamy and delicious. It is purity itself”. How could anyone resist?

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

The Northern Echo:

Alongside a 1930s corsetry pricelist and a thread colour chart is an August 1937 programme for the Cinema-de-Luxe, in Northallerton. There’s a flier for the 1937 Coronation souvenirs produced by ED Walker and Wilson of Darlington, including 72 peashooters at ½d each for a children’s party, and a dozen “unburstable” golf balls – small and large available – for 1s 6d.

The Northern Echo:

Because Osmotherley, on the edge of the North York Moors, was an Edwardian tourist trap, there are the blocks from which Thompson’s printed souvenir postcards.

The Northern Echo:

Then there is a box of uncorked bottles of Kempac’s extremely dubious sounding, and smelling, medicinal compounds: All Fours Chest and Lung Syrup has a gloopy catarrh-like consistency and a whiff of menthol and aniseed, whereas a tablespoon of Blood Renewer, containing alcohol and chloroform, should be taken after every meal.

The Northern Echo:

There are racks from which The Northern Echo was sold 100 years ago, a display stand for Lilia de Luxe Soluble Towels, which were important to women in 1930, and there’s an “O-Cedar dustabsorbing handimop, impregnated with O-Cedar polish, for your car”. No vehicle should be without one.

The Northern Echo:

All are covered in the dust of ages and the rust of time as the till rings for the last time on this shop from the past.

Viewing is at the Leyburn saleroom tomorrow, from 9am to 6pm and on Saturday, from 8am.

  • The sale starts at 9.30am.

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