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Unwrapping the history of a village’s confectioners

Glen McWilliams next to the Woodbine sign which was discovered at the front of his Wooler shop, The Chocolate Box.

Glen McWilliams next to the Woodbine sign which was discovered at the front of his Wooler shop, The Chocolate Box.

A high-street shopfront in a north Northumberland village has sparked plenty of interest since embracing a piece of its history.

Glen McWilliams, whose wife Sharon runs The Chocolate Box in Wooler, was working on the front of the premises when he uncovered some old signs.

Harking back to the shop’s former use as a tobacconists, the two signs beneath the windows on either side of the front door are adverts for Woodbine cigarettes.

“What was remarkable was the reaction of a lot of local people,” said Glen.

“My son Jack did a Facebook post and it sparked a lot of interest.

“People are coming in and saying it has transformed the front of the shop or just putting their heads in and saying those signs are fantastic.”

Glen was initially a little uncomfortable because they are adverts for cigarettes, but it is part of the history of the shop.

He has teamed up with local historian Billy Hall to try to do a sort of family tree, detailing the history of the shop and its owners.

Noted for its strong unfiltered cigarettes, the Woodbine brand was popular in the early 20th century, especially with soldiers during the First and Second World Wars.

Collectively, they were known as gaspers until about 1950, because new smokers found their strong smoke difficult to inhale.

 

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