Queen Street: a hive of activity
Ask anyone in Amble what they would like to see in Queen Street and they will certainly say ‘do something with the dilapidated Co-op buildings!’ This is so uppermost that we almost fail to see the steady improvement of shop fronts and new ventures.
So, here is the good news – work will begin in the very near future on the larger Co-op frontage. This has been designed with the help of English Heritage who wish to create the appearance of ‘the small shop’, in keeping with the rest of Queen Street. Hence the division into three small frontages (see illustration below).
The majority of the £94,000 needed for the frontage improvements will come from English Heritage and Northumberland County Council through their Shop Front improvements scheme. The rest of the money must come from funding to be sourced by Amble Development Trust.
Possible plans for the interior of the building, include dividing some of the space into separate retail units and the relocation of ‘Fourways Foods’. The upper floor is being considered as an appropriate venue for artists’ studios and their work spaces. A lot more money will be needed for these improvements and a funding bid for this is currently being prepared by the Development Trust.
Queen Street is a flurry of activity these days, with new businesses opening and empty units being snapped up by local entrepreneurs. The new bakery is always full to bursting, fresh flowers adorn the pavements and if we needed another excuse to stop for tea and cake, there’s a tasty brand new tea room to try. And if you fancy stamping your mark of identity on yourself, there is now a tattoo shop in Cross St.
Work has also begun on redeveloping the smaller of the old Co-op department stores. Howard Chisholm of Chisholms the Bookmakers told The Ambler: “We bought the property a year, a year and a half ago. At the moment new shopfronts are going in and the building is being divided into two. The new tenant is due to move in at the end of September. The other half will be occupied by ourselves next year. The new shopfronts will be in a traditional style. They should look very good.”
Amble’s independent spirit
One of the really distinguishing features of shopping in Amble is the overwhelming number of independent retailers. Very few market towns can boast such a strength. Not only are we the Friendliest Port, but we can also pride ourselves on having such a distinctive array of shops. According to Northumberland Tourism and the Market Towns visitor survey of Amble, which was done in 2009, tourists declared that the independent shops were a particular attraction in the town’s overall offering.
Painting and decorating supplies and services are from N& F Young – whether you fancy doing it yourself or asking John to ‘send the boys round’. They also replace or cut glass, paint signs and sell all manner of home decorating products.
Foresters have a large selection of ladies and children’s wear. Ideal for gifts and those everyday necessities! Their window displays are always bright and attractive, so pop in and have a good look round!
You can’t have failed to notice The Amble Butchers with its locally sourced meat, excellent cheeses, delicatessen, and prepared meals, all attractively displayed. Peter Forsyth Jr has moved his butchery to Queen Street after being at New Barns farm in Warkworth for many years. “We’ve always had a connection to the area, so we were very pleased to be able to open in Amble,” said Peter.
But if sweets and ice cream cornets are more to your palate, then Chapman’s is the place for you! Also selling cards and stationery, Chapman’s stocks traditional confectionery, ice cream cornets and Amble rock!
When it’s time to stock up all the Back to School stationery, find it all at Coastal Colour. The current shop will be going through changes soon, and you may need to look for Mike and the team in a temporary location – watch that space. They can also meet all your needs in graphic design, print and copying services, and it is known as an Aladdin’s Cave when it comes to card making products – with Christmas not that far away!!
Amble is so lucky to have its own independent bookseller. The Bookworm stocks hardbacks, paperbacks, bestsellers, children’s books and maps and if there’s something in particular you want, Beryl can order it in for you. The Bookworm is also the home of all books Northumbrian, so call in and have a look around at the Post Office.
Roland’s Butchers have been a part of Amble for generations! Famed for their high quality meat and entrepreneurial spirit, Jeffrey Roland began selling via the internet several years ago at www.thesteakpeople.co.uk Recently the shop on Queen St launched a new line in ready cooked meals such as steak pie with potatoes, sausage casserole and their chef’s special lasagne.
J.K.Crafts offers a huge selection of gifts, ornaments, silver and fashion jewellery, clocks and watches. They can fit new watch batteries for you or provide a repair service if necessary. You can even have your ears pierced! And always service with a smile.
Carley’s Barber rooms has recently opened and offers a walk in service for gents’ hairdressing, no appointments necessary. She will cater for all ages with traditional or modern styling.
The Premier store, formerly Little’s Newsagents sells cigarettes, wines and beers, newspapers and magaazines, cards and everyday essentials, as well as offering photo printing services and the lottery.
The Flower Centre is the place to go for flowers, gifts, greetings cards, stationery and balloons. From September you’ll be able to send out wine or champagne with gift flowers, so call in and ask Anne and Richard all about it. They’re open seven days a week 8.30am -5pm and 10 – 4pm on Sundays.
S & M Electrics offers any number of vacuum cleaning bags, you can still get 200 watt lightbulbs there and if you fancy a new TV or electrical appliance, they’re the place to go.
In addition, Queen Street is home to a bustling collection of hairdressers, beauticians, takeaway food, cafés, a Post Office, banks, a chemist, estate agents, supermarkets, a tanning salon, cards and fancy dress, DVD rentals, insurance, sewing materials and services, a funeral parlour, gardening, hardware and ladies’ fashion shops.
Only a tiny handful of retailers in Amble are owned by large organisations. How proud we can be of that. And we should be supportive too.
The state of the road and pavement and the problem of parking were discussed at the Annual General Meeting of the Development Trust recently and The Ambler is informed that these issues will be taken up with Northumberland County Council in the near future.
Anna Williams and Lou Pickering