THE family owners of one of the country's most traditional sweet shops are celebrating 80 years of weighing out black bullets, rhubarb rock and buttered brazils.

The shop, where the fittings have been unchanged since the 1950s, has been in Alan Clough's family since 1934, and the premises in Heaton, Newcastle, has been serving happy customers with midget gems and lemon quenchers for 115 years.

Mr Clough, now 66, began serving when he was six, standing on a wooden drinks crate so he could see over the counter and make up mixed bags for wide-eyed local children who would gaze in wonder at the 300 jars lining the walls.

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His parents, Arthur and Edith, originally ran the shop, with his mother working there until she was 95. Locals remember her hooking jars off the higher shelves with a walking stick.

Surprisingly, adults are the best customers these days, and many are in contact using the internet to track down obscure sweets from their childhood.

Mr Clough believes the sweet shop is one of the oldest in the North-East.

He has no intention of retiring soon, saying: "You get a feeling of satisfaction that you are doing something that is appreciated and worthwhile.

"People in the area all know the shop. One man tells us that seven generations of his family have shopped here. We are a huge part of Heaton."