“Turkey Salad with Mayo Again?!”

Last week I wrote a narrative containing untrustworthy recollections from my senior high schooldays in Low Fell, Gateshead. Within those memories I touched upon a sandwich shop called The Griddle – During my schooldays a ‘go to’ source for midday refreshment.

In the 1970s/80s, this Durham Road deli was heavily patronised by Heathfield Senior High School students. A haunt where they sought lunchtime sustenance and distracting from the fact they’d not done that afternoon’s homework for unforgiving Maths teacher Mr Friezer.

Being a creature of habit when The Griddle in situ I’d ordinarily chose a lunch of freshly made turkey mayo salad sandwich, on white stottie bread. On my more maverick days I’d push the boat out, substituting the turkey for ham. I’ve no idea where the boat came from, but in the confined space of the Low Fell eatery it needed shifting.

With sandwich purchased I tended to stroll the short walk along Durham Road, past The Cannon pub, into a small supermarket (may’ve been called Fine Fare), where I’d ordinarily buy a six-pack of United chocolate biscuits. Following which, along with a few classmates head to a lad called Tim Atkinson’s nearby home; which stood around a hundred yards past the Belle Vue pub. Our usual destination for the troughing of our lunchtime scran.

Tim a jovial lad in my Heathfield form who, despite dropping sciences at that point, always carried a Bunsen burner and petri dish in his haversack, “Just in case!” I’m unsure what of, but I recollect him as a good lad….. Although after watching the excellent TV series Breaking Bad I’ll admit to being more suspicious of individuals unnecessarily carrying around chemistry equipment.

I’m struggling to recall the names of the other lads who’d likewise scoff their lunchtime fare at Tim’s mum’s house. Although I think the surname of one was Blackburn, the other Norris (maybe). Anyhow, regardless of being unsure of the other lad’s monikers, I’m positive the Griddle freshly made sarnies were top notch.

A stottie sandwich

In retrospect, I’ll admit eating white stottie bread and three United biscuits every school day for two years wasn’t the healthiest of lunches, but on the flipside there was nutritional value in the salad and cooked turkey filling. Hopefully bestowing more dietary brownie points than Weigh Watchers points anyway!

I’d argue my schooldays choice of lunchtime snack could’ve been far unhealthier. I’m pretty sure my recent cardiac arrest would’ve occurred sooner if, instead of The Griddle, I’d have lunched everyday at Bert’s Pie Shop or the local chippy. Don’t get me wrong, Bert’s pastries were fantastic, but just thinking about eating a pie or pasty on a daily basis makes my coronary arteries ache.

My understanding is that the deli, which was the second nearest shop to Heathfield (after JQ Summers opticians***) on Low Fell, closed many years ago. Last time I was in there was around the early 1990’s; an occasion I visiting the upstairs restaurant with my wife.

*** – A shop I pen about in my narrative Q

At that time my spouse and me had moved away from the north east following my securing of employment in London. If memory serves me correct, my mum and dad had also moved away at that time; back to Leeds, the city of their roots. As a consequence  that weekend Karen and me enjoyed the warm and welcoming hospitality bequeathed to all visitors of her mum and dad’s Birtley home.

As I don’t recollect the meal being fantastic that night, or the place well patronised by diners, I wasn’t overly surprised to hear The Griddle had closed down not long after we’d visited. That being said, I was sad to hear of it’s demise; a place that’d indelible footprints on the 1977-79 section of my life canvas.

I remember the staff of The Griddle as amiable individuals, highly responsive to patrons food order demands, no matter how ludicrous. Below is a little seen 8mm movie clip from the 1970s, showing the responsiveness of the Low Fell deli’s staff to Heathfield teachers when asked to fulfil a huge school disco catering order.




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