Walkers” Newsagent of Quinton

Jim Walker

The following is a transcript of an interview held a year or two ago, which I discovered when looking through some old papers in the loft.

I was old enough to “go about” on my own at the tender age of 14-15 (us children were very protected in the 1950s! When I used to leave school at “Fordies”-Four Dwellings n the Summer, we used to have an ice-cream off “Pagetts” outside the school entrance, the vehicle he sold from was a very high and instable converted three- wheeled Reliant Van (not Del Boy Type) It had handle bar steering! We then used to walk down Ridgacre Road to the shops at Walkers, which included from now the “Carpet Shop?” that was Glynn

Farm House which was like a fancy goods, come grocery/ironmongers then the Barbers, Homeshaws, greengrocers, Walkers then the Outdoor at the end by the gully.

Mr Walker and his wife always worked in the shop and he could sometimes get annoyed if there were too many of us kids making a row in the shop, while he was doing his papers, then he would smile at us and then shout “Shurrup will yer!” There was everything in that shop to delight us, cheap toys, expensive Dinky Toys (which we could save up for “on the club”) sweets of every kind and colour you could dream of. All contained in endless jars on what seemed to be never ending shelves, it was like a shrine to everything a kid loved.

The smell of the print ink off the papers mixed with the smells of the old wooden counters and of course the sweets. I had a similar experience the last time I visited the sweet shop in the Black Country Museum. If you stayed in the shop till the men came home from work, from the number 3 bus, then new smells came into the shop. You could never move in the shop for bus drivers and conductors from the Bus Garage over the road.

Walkers was a local institution, it was never empty and Mr Walker was a man you looked up to as he was always the same temperament, we all respected him. He was firm but fair. He had a lovely rosy cheeked face and when the Mums came into the shop with their babies his face would light up with a big smile and he would make chuckling noises.

I bought my very first Scalextric with my first weeks wages (I still have it), and Mr Walker’s club. The legendary “Radio Times” was printed on the roof of the shop-it has always been a landmark to tell people to look out for if they were new to the area. Mr Walker always had crisp “News Headlines” on the boards outside the shop and woe be tide you if he caught you sitting on top of the boards balancing your heels on the sheets. Naughty I suppose but he would come and chase you off, and we ran down the road. But he had a photographic memory and got his own back next time you went in the shop by pretending you weren’t there and then he would point his finger and say “I’m watching you from now on!”

And following his sad demise I found this article in a local newspaper dated 16th October 2003.

Heartfelt tributes have poured in for a popular Quinton newsagent who served the Ridgacre community for most of his life.

Eighty-four year old Jim Walker died after battling a long illness, finally succumbing to pneumonia on September 20th.

Jim was proprietor of Walkers of Quinton Ltd. A radio Times newsagent on Ridgacre Road from 1938 – 1983 when he retired.

His funeral was held on the 51st anniversary of the day he first met his wife Mary, and the pair worked side by side in the shop, as well as bringing up their family of three, Sue and twin brothers Martin and Peter.

The couple were five months short of celebrating their golden wedding anniversary when Jim died. Daughter Sue said “even after Dad retired people still referred to the shop as “Walkers”. It was more like a community meeting place really and his six part-time staff were really all like family as well. The shop was old-fashioned and always had a great atmosphere; it was one of the first toy shops in the area to stock “Lego”

In his spare time he was busy sitting on the committee of King Edward’s School, Five Ways. He also enjoyed oil painting at the Quinborne Community Centre.

Dad was always a gentleman-kind, caring and good natured. He was cheerful and was a very giving person. He was musical, always singing and you would hear his whistle when he was coming home.

Ed’s comment-I was sure that I had a photo of the shop somewhere in the archive but sadly I couldn’t find it but I hope you enjoyed the article

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