Redgates' iconic toy store in Sheffield - the stuff that kids' dream were made of

Lovers of old Sheffield had a lot of fun remembering their childhoods and working lives when we asked for memories of Redgates toy shop, now being demolished.

Friday, 4th May 2018, 3:05 pm
Updated Friday, 4th May 2018, 3:11 pm
Michael Nunn, pictured in 2010, was the final generation of a family who ran the Redgates toy shop in Sheffield

We posted the picture seen here of children’s TV star Leslie Crowther drawing a crowd of fans to the store in November 1975 and asked people to share some reminiscences.

Several members of the Sheffield History Facebook page posted their memories.

Michael Nunn, pictured in 2010, was the final generation of a family who ran the Redgates toy shop in Sheffield

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Jessie James said: “It was a dream place for kids. I spent hours wandering around in there making up the wish list!”

Nathan Knight said: “The glass chemistry set cabinet, the wall-mounted train set, Action Man Infinity and then always the most expensive toy in the world as you walked in.

“And then there was the wooden boxes of dinosaurs, soldiers and cars, as well as teddies. And for some reason the iconic carrier bags, ha ha.”

“Airfix cars, ships and planes… they had loads.”

Children's TV star Leslie Crowther draws a crowd to Redgates in November 1975

He asked: “ I wonder if kids of today will remember Toys R us in the same way?”

Diane Storey said that she got her baby pram from Redgates 42 years ago

Dave Smith commented: “Santa’s Grotto all year round. Farewell friend.”

Carl Hill said: “1977, all the Star Wars figures on the left just as you walked in the doors. Would be worth millions now. Oh for a time machine.”

Lynne Hague said: “Kids dream outing once upon a time! I remember the dolls outfits for Cindy and Tressy... and strangely Crazy Foam with their animal head tops to squirt from!! Remember having a parrot one! So sad it’s going.”

Steven Barker posted a picture of a model traction engine, saying: “Bought at Redgates, March 1973 for 8 quid. I still have the box.”

Pauline Fretwell remembered working at the old Redgates shop in her first job, from 1964 to 69, and said she loved working there.

Lindsay Wright said that her parents, Neville Sharman and Christine Middlebroke, also worked at the store and so did Dawn Fleming and her mum Margaret.

On Pictures of Sheffield Old and New, Chris Youle recognised the Armada board game that Leslie Crowther was leaning on.

He said: “ You moved ships round a 3D board of islands trying to place flags in the opponent’s half while shooting a spring-loaded cannon at the enemy ships, it was amazing.”

Several people shouted “CRACKERJACK!” when they saw the picture but Rebecca Bryson retorted: “ Never mind Crackerjack, what’s going to happen to the Redgates space ship lift?!”

Tracy Whybrow recalled: “My mum and I queued outside Redgates from the early hours to buy Cabbage Patch Dolls when they were first out. They were THE thing to buy and Redgates was the first store to get them. Bought three and we were interviewed by The Star!”

n Michael Nunn was the fourth generation of his family to run Redgates, once regarded as the best toy store outside London.

Then aged 82, he told The Star in 2010: “It is wonderful to think people still remember the shop with such fondness.’’

Michael’s great granddad Edwin Redgate founded the store in Fargate in 1857, selling sewing machines and furs.

A chance idea to make pram covers from some dodgy fur in 1890 led to stocking prams, then wheeled toys, which set the whole toy idea in motion.

In 1918, Michael’s dad, George, visited the Manchester Toy Fair and decided the business would become a fully-fledged toy shop. In 1925 the store moved to Moorhead but it was bombed in the Sheffield Blitz and had to relocate to Ecclesall Road. A move back to Moorhead in 1954 was followed by relocation to Furnival Gate in 1968.

The store was sold to UK chain Zodiac Toys in 1986. Two years later, Zodiac shut it.