Great Uncle Bimbo Remembers #1

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Robbs Department Store situated opposite Pykes and the Army & Navy Stores.

Everyone else seems to be using their first post to introduce themselves to this here interweb thing, but I hate talking about myself, so I will break the tradition and get on with my first post. However, I suppose I better quickly tell you that I am Bimbo and as you can no doubt tell from my photo, I am not a bona-fide Renault Bear. I am in fact a Chilton Bear but I have been made an honorary Renault Bear by the other Renault Bears. That is because they consider me to be their Great Uncle because I am old and wise. I grew up with The Bearkeeper and remember many things from years and years ago. That is usually what I write my posts about. Anything else about me you will no doubt pick up as we move along.

The very first thing I can remember as a young bear was sitting in Robbs Department Store in Birkenhead. Robbs – or Robb Brothers Limited, to give it the correct title – was a large department store established in Charing Cross, Birkenhead in 1872. There were lots of shops in Grange Road. At the Grange Road West end is where “Robbs” stood, a large store which was rather up market compared to Allinson’s at the other end of Grange Road. In between – from what I can remember – there was Woodson’s (a grocery shop), Waterworth’s (a green grocers), Timpson’s (the shoe shop), Pyke’s (the jewellers) and Woolworths plus many more.

Robbs sold everything you could think of. I remember there was a large boy’s department selling school uniforms, along with departments for Men, Woman, Haberdashery, perfume, furniture, house-hold and even a record department. There was also a small toy department which is where I sat. One Monday (24th October 1960 to be precise), a man walked into the toy department during his lunch hour and purchased me as a “birth” day present for his very first grandchild. That man went by the name of Horace Elliot Ogden (or “Da” as Davidd later christened him) and he bought me for Davidd – also known as The Bearkeeper.

Now, evening visiting time at St Catherine’s Hospital – where Davidd was born – was for fathers only. However, Davidd’s Dad was away in the Merchant Navy at the time and so Joy (Davidd’s mummy), if the rules were followed, would have had no visitor.

Mr HE Ogden Esq, was a very honourable man and would never tell lies to anybody. Joy was only seventeen when she had Davidd and when Da tried to walk in looking much older than Joy he was challenged by a nurse and told evening visiting time was for fathers only. Da told the nurse that he was indeed the father and walked straight passed the bemused nurse carrying me in with him. Bear in mind, this was 1960 and times were very different back then so you can imagine what the nurses thought seeing a man who was fifty years old at the time telling them he was the father to a seventeen year old’s child. It’s a surprise he wasn’t arrested.

I was presented to Davidd that day and I have been with him ever since.

Of course Davidd was too young to remember any of these incidents and so many years later I told him the story. Davidd went straight to Da and asked him had he lied to get into the hospital during “fathers only” evening visiting times. Da acted most offended that Davidd would accuse him of such skulduggery and maintained that he was merely confused in all the excitement and thought the nurse was asking was he Joy’s father, which of course he was.

Yes, we believe you Da but thousands wouldn’t!

Sadly, the Robbs store was demolished in 1982.

Bear With Me Strip

About the Author

Great Uncle Bimbo MBE

I was given to Davidd, The Bearkeeper back in 1960 in St Catherine’s Hospital when I was presented to him as a “birth” day present. I came home with him and have been with him ever since. We grew up together and, unlike many other people, he has never decided he was too old to have a teddy bear. I am the oldest bear at The Jammy Toast Retirement Home and was awarded an MBE by The Queen for services to retired Renault Bears in 2018.

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