Your site showed a sign which said "Happy Days in Newcastle". This belonged to the original joke shop (Central Prom) in Newcastle, which I owned for 20 years. It was featured in the BBC programme 'A Month of Sun Days' and I was interviewed about the history of the shop over the last 20 years.
"Happy Days in Sunny Newcastle" postcard
From a painting by Richard Croft RUA
One of the features of the shop was a bubble machine which blew bubbles for the children on the street to play with. Many mothers' tempers were tried trying to get the children away from the bubbles. Other attractions included flags of all nations flying above the shop, plus music played out into the street featuring Blackpool's famous wurlitzer organ playing wartime and seaside favourite tunes. This, plus children's rides and a bright display of seaside novelties to catch the holidaymakers' attention, made the shop one of Newcastle's most popular shops. It was featured on every TV travel show or news item about Newcastle or the Mournes that came to town. Thousands of holidaymakers enjoyed standing under the sign saying 'Welcome to Happy Days in Sunny Newcastle' to have their photograph taken - specially when it was pouring with rain! One American couple called to see the shop they said they had seen on a documentary on American television (sorry to say I was unable to trace this show).
A local artist Richard Croft (Dundrum) painted a giant picture of the shop , 5 ft x 3 ft, which was put on display at the Ulster Museum Belfast by the Royal Ulster Academy and was on sale for £3,000. I took great pleasure bringing my children plus granddaughter Sherdia to see this painting. Sadly it is now in storage in Downpatrick Museum. Prints of the painting were on sale in the Bucks Head Inn in Dundrum and one is still on display in the tourist office in Newcastle. One of the interesting features of the painting was that the artist painted himself, his wife, son-in-law, daughter and grandchildren standing outside the shop. I was the sinister one in the doorway with the dark glasses.
I still have some fond memories of happy days in sunny Newcastle.
I now have retired due to ill health and live in the seaside village of Dundrum,
where I organised the first all-Ireland busking
competition. (Sample the colour and excitement
of the 2003 competition by clicking
The 2004 All Ireland Busking Competition will
be held on the 28th August at the Central Promenade
Newcastle. The All Ireland Busking organisers
have a website at: www.allirelandbusking.com
and if you want to enter you can contact the organisers
See you there!
Patrick mentioned how he featured in the BBC NI series "A Month of Sun Days". We've tracked down a clip of his interview - click here to watch it.
Note from NI Editor:
Patrick is also keen "to contact any artist or
band who played the Pierrots or anyone who knows
where they are now. I am also interested in any
old photographs of the bandstand, artists or bands
who played at that time - with the hope of collecting
enough material to produce a book to mark this
great era. I am also interested in any old photographs
of Newcastle". If you can help click on 'Discuss
this Article' at the bottom of the page and leave
Niall Bradley - June '06
Hello i am researching Richard Croft's perspex
box designs as i am undergoing a project of my
own which will be aided immensely by examples
of his work. But, i am unable to find pictures
of his example and im seeking help - please email
any pictures you have to sparkyballs89 at
hotmail.com. thank you!
Paul Crilley - February '05
I have the clock that was above the entrance door
to the joke shop opposite Marlborough Crescent
in Newcastle. The building was about to be demolished
and being a collector of clocks I remembered the
clock above the door, even though it had been
painted over, and so reused it. Is this the same
shop as in your feature? The information I am
looking for relates to any photographs of the
shop with the clock in situ. Anyone with any information
can contact me through YPAM.