Former staff of a well-known Armagh city department store, which closed its doors in 2014, are planning to host a grand reunion next month.
The reunion has been organised for those who worked at TJ Walkers – formerly of Market Street in the city – between the 1950’s and 1990’s.
All staff employed within this period are invited to attend the function in the Armagh City Hotel on Monday, April 17 at 2pm, where a light tea will be provided.
Priscilla Anderson (Scott), who started working in TJ Walkers in 1962 says the aim of the reunion is to “get everybody meeting again to talk about old memories.”
The event promises to be a truly unique occasion that will not only bring some former staff members together, but will pay tribute to those who worked in the store that have since passed on.
Speaking on her career at Walkers, Priscilla recalled: “I really enjoyed working there. The staff were all well treated and we were just the heart of the town.”
Those wishing to attend are asked to contact Priscilla on 07531 056925.
Despite having closed its doors almost a decade ago, TJ Walkers is a name that needs no introduction for many in Armagh.
The store was run for many years by Mervyn Walker, who left his beloved city in 2020 for a new life in Scotland. He ran the shop alongside his late wife Ivy up until their retirement in 2014.
The history of TJ Walkers stretches back to 1911, when it was opened by Mervyn’s dad, Thomas J. Walker – nicknamed TJ – as a general drapery store, which expanded over the years to include a highly-regarded fashion store.
Manager George Stacey was then appointed to run the business before Mervyn underwent his apprenticeship in Austin’s.
It was then he took over the running of the store in the early 1950s, inheriting extremely dedicated staff, one of which was Ivy Gray, who became Mervyn’s wife in 1954.
Modernisation continued with other specialty fancy goods shops opening, such as the Woolcraft and the Jolly Roger in English Street. These were smaller units; the Jolly Roger was a record and toy shop. Then, in 1969, number 5 Market Street was obtained (1,3 and 5) and he was able to expand the business to sell furniture, carpets and curtains.
In the early 1970s, the Woolcraft and Jolly Roger returned home to the enlarged department store, which employed over 70 people at the time. It was a big store for Armagh.
There was a fire in April 1974 and then Walkers was re-established as a mini-store at what was more recently known as the Rainbow Restaurant.
In 1978, rebuilding was completed and Walkers returned to their Market Street home (No3-5). It was ladies fashion only – not as large as its previous incarnation.
The business prospered greatly until its closure in February 2014 after trading for 103 years when Mervyn and Ivy retired, well into their 80s.
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