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Sheffield History

Redgates Toy Shop Layout - Anyone Remember ?

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DaveH

I was an Airfix fan, but only aircraft. I always thought them far superior to Revell! Redgate's was an Aladin's cave. I have to admit that when I graduated to sizeable gliders and control-line I moved on to Hobbies on St Paul's Parade.

I mainly used the shop called Hobbies on London Road.

They stocked the full Keil Kraft range as well as Cox and Davis-Charlton engines and the staff were very friendly and helpful.

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Guest JK WKA

Hello, everyone.

I knew that I'd read (and kept) an article in The Star in recent years telling the story of Redgates, and I'm glad to say that I've found it;

The article was in The Star on 22 Dec 2010 (page 10!), and was based on details given by Michael Nunn, then aged 82, who was living in Dore. (Incidentally, he apparently had a son called Robert, who was in my Mum's class when she was a teacher!..)

The article gives lots of details;

Michael Nunn was the last director and fourth generation of the Redgates family, having married into the family (it says in the article that his flat was still (in 2010) full of model railways and toy catalogues - boys and their toys?!..)

Local artist/cartoonist, Pete McKee, immortalised the Furnival Gate store in a Christmas card - it also mentions online nostalgia, even then, about Redgates was rife!

In 1895, William S Nunn married Edwin's daughter, Annie Gertrude Redgate, and later became a partner in the business.

There is a book called "The Shopaholics guide to 1970s Sheffield", written by Neil Anderson, presumably with references to Redgates (and pictures??)

Later, after becoming a toys-only store, staff were actively encouraged to show youngsters how the toys worked, and let them play with them - so much so that a police officer calling to investigate a shoplifting incident reprimanded Michael (Nunn) for making the store so attractive to children!

Michael's great grandad, Edwin Redgate (yep, that was actually their name), founded a store in Fargate way back in 1857 (although there is an old drawing in the article of "the first E.Redgate shop" which is on a corner, and inscribed as being on Dixon Lane, Haymarket. A copy of this drawing was printed in the 1957 (?) Redgates Centenary paper mentioned a bit later in this post) - although this shop was a sewing machine and fur store. Michael said in the article that people would still be asking for parts for Redgates sewing machines when he was there, 100 years later!

Around 1890, Edwin Redgate bought some cheap fur in London, but it was so cheap that no-one bought the fur coats made from it. Undeterred, Edwin cut up the furs to make pram covers - and bought prams to accompany them; this progressed into the stocking of wheeled toys, and then to toys in general - (so we seem to have a lot to thank those grotty old furs for!..)

In 1918, George, Edwin's grandson/Michael's dad, visited the Manchester Toy Fair, and decided to make the store a fully-fledged

toy shop. Furs and sewing machines got phased-out, and then, having been bombed in the Blitz, the shop relocated to Ecclesall Road.

Michael joined Redgates in 1948, and obviously loved working there - especially due to the happiness it brought to all the children ( - us!!..) who visited.

In 1954, Redgates moved back to Moorhead, and then in 1962 - the year I was born, incidentally... - to Furnival Gate.

By the 1980s, the competition had grown, with large warehouse-type stores (you know the ones..) starting to dominate the toy market and, in an attempt to protect the store's future, Michael sold it to a company called Zodiac Toys, apparently a UK chain, in 1986. That firm struggled itself, and closed in 1988.

Michael is pictured in the Star article (in 2010) reading a special edition of a local newspaper, presumbaly from 1957, with a Redgates Centenary theme - that would be well worth a browse/copying/archiving, should anyone be lucky enough to find/borrow a copy.

As I said, the Redgates history article was in the Sheffield Star newspaper on Wednesday 22 December 2010, so, being so recent, it should be in their archives.

Hope this is of interest.

Phil Harrison.

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Bayleaf

Excellent Phil, thanks for posting that. It fills in a lot of gaps and answers a lot of questions!

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Guest transit

Thanks Phil - great insight ! - however i can clearly remember the old Redgates (top of the Moor ) still being there late 60'''s ? with its hexagon? display case just outside the doors .

I would think they moved to Furnival Gate definately mid 70's ?

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Guest JK WKA

HI, "transit".

No, the Furnival Gate Redgates store was definitely open during the sixties - I was born in '62 and was a keen collector of diecast car models from a young age. The big Furnival Gate store was where I bought most of them; I've still got the vast majority, and can even remember the years when I got some, which was mid-sixties onwards. They have the Redgates yellow and red "gate" price stickers on, and the release dates of these models are well catalogued (some even have the receipts in the box!..). One of the nicest/most valuable, which I still have, was a Scammell three-deck car transporter set with six cars, which I got for my birthday in December 1971.

I somehow managed to pull off the tricky "double-whammy" of playing with them on a daily basis, yet still keeping them in very good nick (and keeping the prized - to collectors - boxes too, so that they're now proving to be very good investments). There were also a few that I clearly remember having, but which sadly got lost, pinched or swapped at some point!..

I can still remember the diecast Corgis and Dinkys, etc, being at the rear of the ground floor, and what a treat it always was to be taken to buy one. It's lovely to hear how Redgates still holds such fond memories for so many other local people too.

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Leonr2z

Dates are a bit out there, the Furnival Gate store didn't open until the back end of the 60's (68 or 69 I think). I was always in the Moorhead store with my mum throughout the 60's. Distinctly remember they had a ride on Helicopter down in the basement next to all the railway stuff (which was my real love). My first proper Train Set (Triang's Freightmaster set) came from there Christmas 1965. Hope this helps jog a few memories.

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Freebooter

Hi serelle ....... Not sure if you have seen this photo posted by "syrup" back in February 2008 but here are the Redgates staff from the 1960's ....... too much to hope I suppose that you are in the photo ?

attachicon.gifredgates_staff_c1960.jpg

Hi,

My era was mid '50s to mid '60s, the "old" shop. I well remember the model railway section. If I am not mistaken, the man about the middle of the back row in the brown overall was the Railway man, did a few repairs on the stuff I had from there for Christmas.

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westmoors

I can only remember the train layout which was in the basement, but this was in 1938  ! I was only a toddler but used to be taken here occasionally to feast my eyes on what was in those days a fantastic layout. ro me there seemed to be miles of tgrack and severfal trains runnig around constantly. The shop was right on the corner at Moorhead and unfortunately was burt out during the Shefield blitz

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Sheffield History
15 hours ago, westmoors said:

I can only remember the train layout which was in the basement, but this was in 1938  ! I was only a toddler but used to be taken here occasionally to feast my eyes on what was in those days a fantastic layout. ro me there seemed to be miles of tgrack and severfal trains runnig around constantly. The shop was right on the corner at Moorhead and unfortunately was burt out during the Shefield blitz

 

Thankfully they kept the train running round the shop when they moved round the corner from the Moor too!

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maxiesmum

Redgates in the 70s layout ground floor, trains corgi, dinky and brittains toys  on the first floor was baby wear prams cots etc, Dolls , dolls houses teddy bears and a large warehouse behind the doll department.

Basement .......large toys bikes subbeuteo books magic sets toy reed  organs roller skates skeelers,  and plastic musical instruments crafts  there was a nother department where galt wooden toys were sols and another big warehouse behind it with access to the loading bay. Mr Michael (Nun) was the director along with mr Georgr and Mr Frank . on the 3rd floor was the retail warehouse behind that was Wilson and Gumpert wholesale warehouse (also owned by the Nun family.

I worked on the latge toy department, repired bikes and prepired them for delivery as well as being second sales assistant in the department.

 

Pat

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deejayone

I've compiled a lot of the information in this thread (and others), plus elsewhere to what I think is the most definitive history of Redgates currently available, here:

https://www.sheffieldguide.blog/2020/05/25/redgates-toy-shop-sheffield-legend-definitive-history/

Now — a couple of people have mentioned the branches at Hillsborough and Chesterfield... can the hive mind track down details and photos of those ones? 

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Sheffield History
14 hours ago, deejayone said:

I've compiled a lot of the information in this thread (and others), plus elsewhere to what I think is the most definitive history of Redgates currently available, here:

https://www.sheffieldguide.blog/2020/05/25/redgates-toy-shop-sheffield-legend-definitive-history/

Now — a couple of people have mentioned the branches at Hillsborough and Chesterfield... can the hive mind track down details and photos of those ones? 



Good article that. I learnt stuff about Redgates I never knew before

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