And what an interesting journey it proved to be. First up, Mark Durham sent me a scan (how modern!) of a Tobacco Dealer’s Licence, costing five shillings and three pence (5s 3d) dated from July 1960 and lasting for a whole year.
I asked Mark if he was now retired. Not a bit of it. He replied: “This is my parents’ store. They have been trading since 1958 I’m just carrying on the tradition. A way of life for dad, who even comes in to keep an eye on things. Many changes since they started. Whoever would have thought we’d now be selling ready-made frozen Yorkshires and bags of ice!”
Mark also sent me a picture of the old place in Northampton. The fascia said The Candy Shop and in much bigger letters underneath it said Player’s Cigarettes. Decorating the windows along with rows of big sweetie jars are signs for Olivier Tipped Cigarettes, Woodbine’s, Senior Service, Capstan, Nelson Tipped and Old Holborn.
Interestingly, laws against tobacco advertising came in shortly after this photo was taken. All TV ads for cigarettes were banned on 1 August 1965, although ads for loose tobacco and cigars continued until 1991. Non-television ad campaigns were still allowed, but came under stricter guidelines in 1986, which prevented adverts from actually showing a person smoking. Until the mid-1990s many shops had signs prominently branding ciggies until it all became outlawed.
Mark doesn’t know when the need for a licence went up in smoke, but he points out that the situation in Scotland is somewhat different. Since April 2011 you needed to be registered to sell tobacco.