Even writing now, I can’t think of Marks and Spencer in Rhyl, which closed a few years back, without a little nostalgia. It was a real institution in the town and was a hallmark for quality.
Generations of our family worked there over the years. The most prominent being my Auntie Margaret Walker who was Staff Manageress from the 1930s until her retirement in 1972. My mum also worked there in the fifties and features in the centre of this photograph in the dark dress, with my Auntie Margaret on the extreme left. The question is, who are the other ladies shown here?
I remember great times there as a warehouse boy from 1972 onwards. I’d do the early shift whenever possible so that my stint included a cooked breakfast and a dinner – all for a 6d ticket! I really loved unloading the lorries with military precision with Roland, Dudley and Gareth. The clock was ticking to get all the fresh produce on the shelves and to ensure that it was placed behind the stock from the previous day… stock management it was called! I enjoyed less the clearing up sick and the scrubbing of the food trays on a Saturday afternoon!
I was paid £6 for a Saturday shift and once I walked out with £24 after my horse came up in the Grand National sweepstake! On a day when I started on the early shift I’d be finished by 4.30pm and home in time to catch the football results!
One of the great benefits of working there was having the late and great Howard Williams on hand and we formed a firm friendship which took us through sixth form. We were always setting traps for each other – he was much better at it then me. One minute I’d be in the old air raid shelter which had been converted into the cold food store, the next I’d walk out to be blasted by the fire hose which Howie claimed he had been instructed to test. I’d then be sent to clear up a mess on the floor and had to claim that I’d been working really hard and sweating as I dripped across the sales floor. I got him back the following week though with the over-ripe tomatoes dropped from the top of the fire escape which landed all over his head and shoulders. I’d like to say I had the last word on that one but he had dreamt up another stunt for me the following week, the details of which it is best not to reveal!