Tuesday, 7 February 2017


Once upon a time, in a mystical, faraway land called 'The Past', there existed a magical place of wonder called JOHNNY'S.  Nothing to do with anything you got in the barber's 'for the weekend', I assure you, but rather a shop in Gallowflat Street in Rutherglen, Scotland.

My grandparents (who I irreverently referred to as 'Grunt' and 'Grumpy' - shame on me) lived in Rutherglen in the early '60s, and it was our well-established custom to visit them every Sunday.  We had to pass through Gallowflat Street en route to their house in Hamilton Road, and we invariably stopped outside Johnny's on the way.

Johnny's was a newsagents, confectioners, tobacconists - and, as well as other sundry items that such shops always stock, also sold toys.  Oh, what treasures teased, tempted and tortured both my brother and myself from within that toy and trinket-bedecked window display.  It was there (around 1963 or '64) that I first saw an AURORA PHANTOM Of The OPERA model kit, built and painted in all its blood-curdling, gruesome glory.

I well remember being fascinated by the desperate prisoner staring out pleadingly from behind the bars of a basement window on the model's base.  Deep lacerations in his arms had exposed the bones, and blazing red blood weeped from the wounds.  What four year old boy wouldn't be captivated by such a gory and macabre sight?

A few years later (if memory serves - and why shouldn't it?  I pay it enough), Johnny's had moved to bigger premises a few doors along (The Hospice Shop, I think - in the 2nd photograph from the top), and it was there I obtained my second QUERCETTI FIREBALL XL5 parachute toy in 1968 or '69 (or even '70) for a mere 2/6d.  A bargain if ever there was one, because the one I got for Christmas back in 1962 or '63 cost 10/6d.  (Now it would cost far more.)

Ah, dear old Johnny's... now sadly long gone.  It must have been around the mid or late '70s it closed its doors for the final time, but I don't know for certain.  In 1964, my grandparents moved to the town in which we lived to be closer to us, and that late '60s visit to the shop was the last I can remember.  (Might've paid it a visit around 1971, but can't be sure.)

The featured photos were taken a good few years ago, when the original Johnny's premises were a flower shop (and may still be). The reason I took them was because 'Johnny's' name was still clearly visible under the painted green board above the new sign.  At least, in real life it was clear, it's a bit harder (but not impossible) to see it in the close-up photographs.

So, if you're around my age and are familiar with Rutherglen, you may well remember this legendary landmark.  Click on the pics to enlarge, click again for optimum size.  You should just be able to discern a hint of the name of that long-gone, much-missed shop from childhood, when, I wager, each of us used to think we had forever.

Here's to Johnny's... and to us.


paul Mcscotty said...

As you know "Johnny's" was also one of my favourite places as a kid and a teenager. I used to go to school in Rutherglen (used to live there as well) and passed it almost every day on the way to or from the school annex (at the old Gallowflat Secondary School). In its heyday Johnny's was full of toys and more importantly (for me) US and UK comics. I recall regularly queuing up for the latest toy craze like "clackers" and those "Sekiden" toy guns and those silver pellets etc. I even remember as a kid of about 9 years old “Johnny’s” was the place we would get an ample supply of those mulita-coloured plastic rockets that you put a "cap" in and threw it up in the air so that when it landed it made a “bang” – loads of kids used to play with them outside the shop after purchasing the rockets and getting a “telling off” from the shop staff for blocking the shop entrance. They even sold individual Woodbine” cigarettes (and others) and a single match for about 10p each and were more than happy to sell them to kids.

Sekiden gun (in case you forgot what it was)


Kid said...

I miss Johnny's, PM, and am glad that I got some photos of the sign, just to 'capture' the place. Imagine still being able to see the old signwriting under a new coat of paint so many years after it had closed. Amazing, eh? I remember clackers and had one of those guns. (It was probably my brothers before it eventually passed to me.) I've got a similar one in my vast collection, but I can't remember who the maker is - I'll have to check. Wouldn't it be amazing if it was actually a Sekiden gun? I well-remember these cap rockets as well, and may even have one kicking around somewhere. If not, I'll have to track one down. Whenever I look at my Phantom of the Opera model (unbuilt and unpainted in its box) and my Fireball XL5 parachute toy, I think of Johnny's. Happy days.

baab said...

They banned them at the schools in the area.
Broken wrists,they said.

I just remembered my Young Dad mastering the Clackers and hurting his wrists,
maybe it was he who banned them.

Kid said...

Right, that's settled the matter, Baab. We'll blame him.

Kid said...

Oops, couldn't have hit the apostrophe key hard enough - brother's, not brothers.

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