Now, it would be remiss of me to not start off this post by mentioning the passing of our dear old Queen Elizabeth II at the ripe old age of 96.
Anyway, I mention this, as it meant that plans for this weekend were a bit sketchy if they went ahead or not.
Let’s rewind a new days. I got sent a flyer on facebook… there was a car boot sale in an area of Stockton I’d never visited. Now, Stockton is a couple of towns over, and this wasn’t a journey that could have been made by bus. I asked Chris if he fancied it, and the answer was to the affirmative.
Evenrything was planned… until the sad death of our former monarch. Pretty much the country stopped. Horse races were cancelled. Football was stopped. Even the BBC dropped their coverage of the final Diamond League athletics meeting of the year halfway through their coverage of the women’s 3,000 metre steeplechase. The country had ground to a halt.
Understandably, there’s a period of mourning, and I was wondering if this car boot sale had been cancelled. I asked on facebook. Nobody got back to me.
Saturday morning rolled around, and I took a chance. Yeah, we’re going. The entire journey for me had a nagging, painful memory of a car boot sale that didn’t happen,back in… oooh, let’ws say 1996. Back then, I’d arranged with Chris to go to a similar car boot sale in Billingham on an early Sunday morning. Now, this was long before Facebook was a thing, and real-time information on events was non-exisent. Either way, Chris’s dad drove us up and down this road where it was meant to be… aaand no sign of it. Absolute waste of a journey, and I felt awful for it.
As I mentioned, I ‘took the plunge’ Google’s sat nav guided us to the destination. The church was there, and there were some stalls set up. Phew.
Overall, there were meant to be 33 stalls. There might have been than many, I didn’t count. I’d been though a few stalls, and picked up 6 from one at 50p each.
Now, the next stall I visited was… shall we say, awkward.. I’m going through some more CDs, at 50p each. While flicking through, and picking one or two from a particular artist, I heard the words “He liked those”. My heart sank. I knew what was coming next.
The sellers were two women, probably late 60s, early 70s. I’m clearly looking through some of the CDs that a late son had once owned. Oh my.
I was in too deep at this point. I’d picked some out, but I clearly wasn’t going without a few more, was I? Admittedly, I had a couple of them which I left behind, but the rest of those came home with me. “Think Of [Dave] While you’re listening to them!” were her parting words….
Shortly after that, the heavens opened. Thankfully, we’d managed to go through the entire car boot sale before the rain started. It was time to go, and head into Stockton’s town centre itself.
Now, 2022 is a bit of a time of change for Stockton. The “Castlegate Centre” that has been “at the heart of Stockton” for at least 40 years, is getting flattened. I have very good memories of this centre. And I hope you’ll excuse me if I go on a bit of a ramble. I’m archiving memories of a (now defunct) shopping centre….
Let’s go back to the 80s. I remember being there, must have been something like October or November, as the Christmas decorations were being put up. the fluorescent lanterns that were used to illuminate the external walkways were 4ft Thorns. At this time I don’t have an exact model number, but they were the same that were used in Hartlepool, and that’s what made them stand out to me.
Let’s fast forward to the 90s. In 1991, before I even owned a proper record player, I picked up my first “proper bought” single, “Carribean Blue” by Enya. It was either this, or “World In Union” by Kiri Te Kanawa. The Rugby world Cup had been happening at the time. There was something like 20p difference, which made me choose Enya. Plus, it had “Orinoco Flow” on the B side. A song I vaguely remember liking at the time. I remember going back to my cousin Julie’s house, and listening to both sides on her record player, as she lived near the Stockton railway station at the time.
So, as I mentioned, it’s getting flattened. Like a lot of shopping centres, it’s suffered a massive decline, and Stockton council think it’s going to be better off replacing it with a park.
Here’s a “few” photos I took at the weekend.
A brightly lit, modern shopping centre, with three people in it.
This was Kitsons butcher’s last day.
This left one shop still open… Herons. Quite surprisingly, this was the last shop before you hit the barricade of where they were demolishing the place. I asked the ‘lady’ behind the counter how long it had left. “A few more weeks”, she grunted, as the new shop in “Welly Square” was still being prepared. I genuinely don’t think she was much into conversation, or communication in general.
Even the parking meters had been “evicted”…
Did this mean the car park was free? I’ll never know. There was, however, a “graffiti wall”, where memories could be posted of the place… I was very disappointed with the complete lack of actual vandalism, and people posting actual memories of the place.
So, yeah. this will almost certainly be my final trip into Castlegate. I’ve just had a couple of memories come into my mind while typing these. There used to be a “Cash Generator” in there. I remember picking up some great vinyl from there which they were getting rid of, for 20p a pop. At some point, it moved across the road, became “Tyne Bargains”, and became of little interest to me, as they stopped selling music.
This was also one of the sites of my final “That’s Entertainment” pilgrimage when I found out they were closing. I picked up a box of empty CD cases from there for 50p. To this day, the cardboard box full of empty CD cases is still cluttering up the kitchen. Whoops. This very same store wa also the one I picked up “Now That’s What I Call Music! 4” on CD, for 49p. I’ve seen it go for hundreds of pounds with the case… sadly, mine was just the CD and therefore probably worth nowt.
Oh yeah, I also bought “Faithful” by Go West from there. It was exactly a week after my mother’s funeral, and it was also the first time Id ever been over the Transporter Bridge…
Right. We’re getting a bit too deep into the memory banks there, so let’s just draw this bit to a close. I hope that somewhere down the line, these photos remind someone of The Castlegate shopping centre…
UPDATE OCTOBER 2022: I can confirm the shopping centre has now closwd down, though B+M, Barclays and maybe another one will remain. Can’t remember. These are all accessible from the high street. No doubt these will go in the future too.
UPDATE FEBRUARY 2023: the demolition continued. They’ve taken a fair chunk out of the old Swallow Hotel now too.
There’s a chance I’ll be going back at the weekend for a proper look at the weekend, so I’ll post a proper update if I manage to get any decent shots. I’m not sure how much of it is fenced off.