Page 3 Profile: Alan Clough, sweet shop owner


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The Independent Online

Somebody’s got a sweet tooth.

That’s Alan Clough, proprietor of Clough’s Sweet Shop in Heaton, Newcastle. Mr Clough is celebrating 80 years of the family-run confectionary store this month.

That’s quite a milestone…

Back in April 1934, Mr Clough’s father Arthur took over a sweet shop on Heaton Road and gave it the family name. His wife Edith started working there shortly afterwards and Mr Clough began doing small tasks in the shop from a young age. By the time he was six he was standing on an old wooden crate to see over the counter and serve customers. In 1966 he began working there full time, and has stayed there ever since. His mother continued working in the shop until she was 92.

Not everyone satisfies their sugar cravings by stocking up in supermarkets these days, then?

The shop, where the fittings have remained unchanged since the 1950s, has a loyal customer base and stocks an array of retro treats you’d rarely come across in modern supermarkets. Locals remember Mr Clough’s mother hooking jars of sweets off the higher shelves with a walking stick. Many customers from further afield have tracked the store down on the internet in order to acquire obscure sweets from their childhood.

You can’t put a price on nostalgia…

Mr Clough believes the sweet shop is one of the oldest in the North East. While it has been in the Clough family for eight decades, sweets have been sold on the premises for even longer – 115 years, in fact. “One man tells us that seven generations of his family have shopped here. We are a huge part of Heaton,” Mr Clough said. “You get a feeling of satisfaction that you are doing something that is appreciated and worthwhile,” he added.

Which bestsellers have withstood the test of time?

Midget Gems, Mint Imperials, Merry Maids chocolate caramels, Black Bullets, Jelly Babies and Jelly Beans were the most popular choices 50 years ago and continue to sell well today. However, fudge is also increasingly sought after too, revealed Newcastle’s answer to Willy Wonka.