Friday, 3 August 2018

Another Nostalgia Trip

I grew up in Rugby in Warwickshire. Someone has to. I suppose everyone has a downer on their home town. Rugby has never been cool. We didn't even have a cinema when I was a teenager.

I don't suppose we realised how lucky we were in some ways. We had several good local model shops, and a really good book shop too, because of the proximity of the Public School in the town.

The book shop was George Over's. It was a big shop, with a model and arts supply department too. I could spend most of a Saturday morning in there, and then go up and leaf through the hobby section of the book department, poring over Don Featherstone's latest book, hoping no one would buy it for another week, please. They were also a printers, and did the big Lord of the Rings posters before we had all the movie stuff*. Due to town centre development they moved from their Clock Tower location to a smaller unit in the High Street, but still had good model and book departments. Due to the internet or whatever they went bust or closed sometime after I moved away.

But we were lucky to have a model/hardware shop that did kits and things like "dope" and balsa aeroplanes and all that stuff. Sort of like the Model Shop we still have in Northampton that I wrote about last year. This was known as "Moore's" and was virtually opposite one of the town's secondary schools. You had to go upstairs to the modelling department and that climb up the narrow stairs was full of anticipation. That's now a shop with wheelchairs and aids for the old and infirm. I have no idea when that went, although in my later years in Rugby the quality and quantity of stock was declining. The oddity was Wilson's of Bilton which was a newsagent in a nearby village, within a short cycle ride. That had a whole wall of Airfix kits. Everything you could imagine from bags to blisters to boxes. I used to love riding out there during the summer holidays with my pocket money. That's gone now. I think the shop has even been knocked down. Again, however, by the time I was a sixth former the quality and stock was declining.

And then Joto Hobbies opened. It was set up by a couple of railway modellers, but it had a full range of kits and modelling supplies too. The guys who ran it knew their stuff and were so helpful too.

I would regularly pick up paint and modelling supplies from it. I was buying metal figures by this stage anyway, and cycling out (and then driving) to Bedworth Art Supplies, who stocked Minifigs (and then from the New Model Soldier Shop in Sheffield when at University). But I did buy my first acrylic paints from Joto, - Humbrol's "Badger" range.

And it survived. Nearly 40 years. Every time we go back to Rugby to see family I try to nip in and have a look. If they've got any boxes of figures I have half an interest in I buy them, just to support the shop. If you don't support them, then they'll be gone.

But alas a few days ago we got a call from my wife's step mother saying that they'd got a closing down sale on. Hobbycraft has opened up on the big out of town retail park up near the M6 and they just can't compete. I guess that the upstairs area with the needlepoint and all the other non-modelling stuff was key to their profitability, and they just can't compete with a bigger shop with parking right outside.

Damn shame.

* Actually my memory has played me false here. I woke up in the night and remembered it was actually Jolly & Barbers.

20 comments:

  1. Sad to hear of these shops closing , our model shop closed about 10 years ago , couldn't compete with the internet I think . I can remember years ago when you could buy Airfix kits at odd little shops - our village shop had a few kits when I was a child and knitting shop in town had some as well (?).

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    1. Yes. Being able to buy an Airfix kit whilst parents were shopping for something else made Saturday shopping trips into town bearable.

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  2. Fond memories of older Hobby shops- ours was a small Cycle Shop owned by Mr Barnes- he had a lot of stock in his small shop- Airfix, Hornby, Scalextric, Humbrols and Modelling Materials...that was over 50 years ago! One of our current Hobby Shops doesn't even come close to what Mr Barnes catered for. Cheers. KEV.

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    1. Sounds great. Was Mr Barnes a jovial old fellow or a grumpy old git? Owners of shops like that tend to e one or the other.

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    2. Mr Barnes was a friendly -helpful chap...I think back in those days you could buy a packet of Airfix OO/HO Figures for about 40 cents...those were the days. The first Airfix figures that I painted was the WW1 French...which I sold for the huge profit of $1. Cheers. KEV.

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    3. I think the first figures I painted properly (as opposed to "blue army" or "red army") would have been...hold on a minute, I can't remember...

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    1. Yes. And Hobbycraft will flit in and out of stock lines as it pleases them. The one in Northampton had full on Flames of War for about 6 months before dropping the range.

      I might be exaggerating a bit.

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  4. A shame. A shame. We will have to remember (ToysRUs style) not to shed a false nostalgic tear when Hobbycraft eventually passes away ... just remember all the small model, craft and toy shops that they killed off. Not forgetting that the Internet and supermarkets have had their cut of the best profit lines of toys and crafts.
    My local Hobbycraft store has given an ever decreasing space to Mancraft or Boycraft (or those "intelligent girls that H G Wells mentioned in Little Wars" craft) since it opened a few years ago - down to one shrinking aisle of Airfix and Tamiya kits, some model paint, a few tools and balsawood. And not one Mancraft or Boycraft magazine ... I suppose if no one buys any of it from them, they don't stock it.

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    1. You hit the nail on the head with your last comment. I wouldn't buy in Hobbycraft if I have an independent store to purchase from instead, so they get very few pennies from me, so I suppose they're unlikely to stock what i want.

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  5. Hi Treb,

    I have been going to Joto for 20 odd years, a great little shop. I went in there this morning to see the signs up. Very bad news all round!

    Cheers

    Jay

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    1. Commiserations to you for losing your local outlet. Rugby has had a rubbish week with Shadow Games shutting as well.

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  6. Yeah, I love indy shops too. There's even some in other cities that I try and get to when I can.

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  7. I'm lucky to have a model shop like this within walking distance. http://clint-anythingbutaone.blogspot.com/2013/11/rochester-games-models-and-railways.html This blog post was from a while back but it still gives a good idea. We now also have another model shop, by the dockyard, with more emphasis on model rail but still very good for supplies etc.

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    1. You are very lucky, living in the effluent south!

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  8. :(

    IMHO - in the long run the Internet is a poor substitute for these shops - it's the people thing versus the "click and get it" mentality

    Sad

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    1. Yes, but alas if you know what you want you can normally find it. The Shop enables you to discover things you didn't know were out there.

      I went back a week or so back and bought some paint and figures, and had a chat wit the current owner. The shop had been open since 1981.

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    2. Totally agree .. the best finds are the ones you didn't know existed ;)

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    3. That's how I started my plastic ancients collection. Just stumbled on the Republican Romans from Hat in the local shop.

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