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Burgin's Newsagent

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We are looking for memories of Burgin's Newsagent, Wolverhampton Street, Dudley as part of our ambitious new development project BCLM: Forging Ahead. We are particularly interested in memories from the 1940s - 1960s, as the shop will be recreated as part of our new 1940s -60s town. 

To help us to recreate this newsagent, we would love to talk to anyone with memories of the shop. Did you buy your newspapers or sweets at Burgin’s newsagents? Were you a paperboy for Burgins? Can you tell us what it was like inside the shop or the home? Do you have any photographs of the shop in the post-war decades?

How to contact us

If you or anyone you know remembers this shop, please get in touch via:

  • Tel: 0121 557 9643
  • Email: collections@bclm.com 
  • Post address: Collections Team, Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4SQ 

 

About Burgin's Newsagent

The shop was founded by John Burgin (1831-1887), a travelling bookseller from Kidderminster, in 1868. It was an old building, built around 1795 and previously a fishmonger, but it served the family well as a place of business and a family home for John and Mary Burgin, and their eight children. The youngest, Alfred Burgin (1880-1951) took over the shop from his father and ran it until his death in 1951, when his widow Jane took over.

Alfred and his wife Jane encouraged their son John (1927-2009) to look for employment outside of the shop – they warned him not to go into the newsagent industry because they were worried that radios were going to kill newsagents! John was a “Bevin Boy” – young men conscripted to work in local coal mines during World War Two – then found work at the Cooperative Wholesale Society’s National Works in Hall Street, Dudley before becoming a full-time electrician. The running of the shop fell to Jane Burgin after her husband’s death in 1951. John married Cynthia Perry in 1954 at St Edmund’s, or “bottom church” in Dudley – John had to be baptised in order to marry, and Cynthia had to become John’s own godmother! John and Cynthia moved back to Wolverhampton Street in 1959 and she began to help her mother-in-law with the running of the shop, taking over completely until her retirement in 2016.

Life as a newsagent was highly regimented. There was rarely a chance for a holiday, only on Christmas day, and days were long. The shop opened at 4:30am – during the war Mr Burgin had to walk down to the railway station at the bottom of Castle Hill to collect the day’s newspapers and wheel them back up, but there were always customers ready for the news first thing. Other customers ranged from workmen in local factories (such as Lenny Henry’s father, who cycled there to buy cigarettes) to doctors at the Guest Hospital (including Dr Messiter, who arrived by chauffeured car). The comedian and entertainer Billy Dainty was a childhood friend of John Burgin’s, and visited whenever he came back to Dudley; and before the war Duncan Edwards – who went to Wolverhampton Street School, just behind the shop – visited regularly with his father.

Burgin’s employed six or seven paper boys from the surrounding area, usually including some from the children’s home in St James’ Road. They covered a wide delivery area stretching from the Priory Estate to Russell’s Hall, including delivering to the council, Dudley College, the Library reading room, and the Guest, Burton Road, and Rosemary Ednam hospitals. Schoolboys started work at 7:15am and the Burgins kept a rack of raincoats and a box of gloves for those that had forgotten them, and gave them toast when they returned.

Why Burgin's Restaurant

As part of its ambitious BCLM: Forging Ahead development plans, Black Country Living Museum will be creating a new town centre, telling the story of the Black Country from the 1940s to the 1960s. This will be full of shops and amenities – one of these will be a staple of every high street, the newsagent. 

BCLM will be replicating Burgin’s newsagent’s shop from 167 Wolverhampton Street, Dudley, which until its closure in 2016 was one of the longest running family newsagents in the country.

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