Shared Moments: Day 79 – ‘Boodle Am’ written by Maureen Kershaw

Day 79 Shops & Shopping: The streets between Briggate and Vicar Lane were home to more Furriers, Suede & Leather and Sheepskin shops but also those selling musical instruments and sheet music, for example ‘Kitchen’s’. Round the corner was ‘Vallances’ where we could visit the listening booths and hear the latest records. Wearing headphones and bopping along, it was easy to outstay one’s welcome! Another music shop, ‘Barker’s’, was on the corner of Albion Place and Lands Lane and appeared to be geared more towards pianos and organs rather than guitars and drum kits as with ‘Kitchen’s’.

It later moved to the narrow street behind ‘Schofields’ and one could book – if one fancied – tickets for classical music concerts. The building was replaced by the one housing ‘Curry’s PC World’ – with no character. ‘Scheerers’ in the Merrion Centre sold instruments too and I was sad to see it close – on a personal level, due them selling greetings cards, mugs and pens for musicians and music lovers alike.

There was a ‘Classical Music Shop’ also in the Merrion Centre, a tiny place occupying a corner position overlooking Wade Lane and a one-time Job Centre. Run by Graham Bennett, no-one knew their stuff like he did and it’s closure brought sadness to many as buying classical music in HMV offered neither the knowledge or the ambience.

Back to Briggate and ‘Readicut’ next door to the Empire Theatre sold Kits consisting of a canvas and a selection of wools which would be hooked through and hey presto a fireside rug in a contemporary style would be born! I think it was a progression from ‘painting by numbers’ a popular pastime in the 50s. Opposite ‘Readicut’ was ‘Boots’ a very tired looking shop but following its relocation to the Bond Street Centre, the building was taken over by ‘Zodiac Toys’ which had a ‘Farmhouse Kitchen’ cafe downstairs. Very popular in the late 80s with my young son who would admire the toys on Thursday Christmas late shopping evenings, enjoying a plate of chips downstairs, before catching our bus home outside ‘Chelsea Girl’ (?) or where ‘Chelsea Girl’ had been previously – and ‘Peel’s Chemist. The chemist being open until late, offered warmth and shelter on the occasions when the bus missed. It was a safe haven to test the perfumes and if felt obliged to purchase, we would leave with at most, a tube of glucose sweets or a drink.

Queen Victoria Street was swept into the ‘Victoria Quarter’ and the run-down shopping arcades were restored to their former glory and beyond. I made purchases at its outset; cards from ‘Chuckles’ who still had a branch in the Merrion Market but its name was soon changed to two surnames to be more in keeping with the tone of the ‘VQ’. ‘Boodle Am’ came from much more humble premises on Woodhouse Lane and was fabulous – but their prices rocketed in the County Arcade. They had a stock of ‘Kickers’ shoes and boots like no other, with sizes and styles to fit the smallest of children to adults who could team their ‘Kickers’ with clothes and accessories from their extensive stock.

‘Boodle Am’ was the only shop throughout Leeds I knew to have such an abundance of Boho wear which I dearly loved. It was one of those shops where every bit of stock was on display, its rails bulging with rich velvets, silk florals, long-flowing linens and eye-watering tie-dyes. There were fabulous long silk scarves, velvet hats for every occasion and chunky jewelry unseen anywhere else. A heady aroma of burning incense permeated the air on entering the shop. I wanted to buy everything and it was probably the shop in which I would be at my happiest should I have been locked in somewhere overnight; there or ‘Ainsley’s’ confectioners!

I bought only one garment from ‘Boodle Am’ when a wedding outfit had to be sourced in 2004. I chose a cream linen suit which had a wrap skirt, a floaty top of pink and green floral design and matched with a long asymmetrical linen jacket, its cotton pockets picking up the floral of the blouse. The ensemble was finished by a delicate scarf in the matching fabric of the blouse, however It was not a good value-for-money garment – I think I wore it twice – but that did not hold the regret and sadness I felt at ‘Boodle Am’ closing its doors for ever. Annoyingly I missed the ‘Closing Down’ Sale!

Next time: ‘Lewis’s’, ‘Schofields’ et al.

Thank you Maureen, such a vivid recollection, until next time….