Well-known Whitby personality Jill to celebrate 80th birthday

Jill Tindale
Jill Tindale

Jill Tindale, a well-known Whitby personality, will be celebrating her 80th birthday on Saturday (May 6).

She is a well-known Whitby personality from the time she worked at Tindale’s Chemists and latterly walking the sea-wall near the chalets.

Born just before the war on the railway as the daughter of Robert and Miriam Argument she grew up in the 1940s and 50s on Gray Street with her four brothers and sisters and attended little St John’s, West Cliff and Cliff Street schools.

Her friend Mary Lawson went into Tindale’s chemist, then on St Ann’s Staith close to Woolworths, to buy a Kodak box brownie and was offered a Saturday job but it was Jill who took it up, leaving school a year later to start work full time alongside Jean Henderson.

Tindale’s chemist had the Green Lounge Café upstairs and on one side the James bakery and on the other Ms Prudom’s tobacconist. At high tides, the cellar would flood from the river.

Within two years, the business had moved up the hill to Skinner Street and Jean had married and been replaced by Sally Slater.

The chemists had a strong photographic side thanks to the owner John Tindale’s professional interest in photography and there was a wide selection of Kodak cameras for sale, later adding Russian and Japanese models and high-powered binoculars.

The variety of film sizes was also extensive including 120, 620, 127, 35mm, both black-and-white and colour.

Jill married John in 1958, and they lived with their boxer dogs in a flat on Bridge Street above John’s photographic gallery shop near the Whitby Gazette offices.

Business back on Skinner Street was very seasonal as it also was for the rest of the town in those days – the spring and summers were busy with people staying in West Cliff hotels and coming off the beach but after Regatta each year the town settled down to quiet again for the autumn and winter.

Tindale’s chemist on Skinner Street had warehouses behind it, and up the side on Routh Walk there were photographic show-cases - of great interest to Whitby people because they contained the latest photos of local weddings, events, school groups, etc.

These were taken by John in his other role as photographer for the Whitby Gazette.

Many people made a point of checking the show-cases regularly to see if they or someone else they knew were featured in the photos.

Jill had a marvellous variety of assistants in the shop over the years including among others Angela Sanderson, Pamela Scarfe, Ann Coates, Christine Williams, Dorothy Swales, Sharon Belchamber, Sheena Anderson and Beverley Shackleton.

Some of these girls must have felt the cold because Jill always kept the shop door open even in the coldest weather, when they could huddle up to the gas-heater and the boxer dogs peering over the top of the counter. At Christmas, two demi-johns of home-brewed wine were offered freely to friends and regulars dropping in behind the shop to get their purchases gift-wrapped.

So by Christmas Eve all the shop-windows were empty and sold-out without fail.

Jill retired in the 1990s along with her husband John, who continued as a writer and whose photographs of the town are now featured in the Whitby Museum. Jill then became a regular dog-walker on the Whitby sea-wall and she continues walking there to this day.

The Tindale’s chemist shop has remained on Skinner Street and is now a Boots and the old chemists on St Ann’s Staith is now a clothes shop.

Jill has retained her energy and enthusiasm for life and has many friends who will know her from the shop over the years or will have met her while out walking.

They will all be delighted to wish her a very happy 80th birthday.