Chester-le-Street Heritage Group

We used to visit Emily’s café above Aspects on Front Street, Chester le Street, with friends twice a week to enjoy a coffee and some toast or a bacon sandwich. Margaret used to like trying all the varieties of scone on offer, and there were also lovely cakes for sale. The owners of Aspects and Emily’s Cafe, Lesley and Keith, were always very welcoming. Lesley who was friendly and outgoing, ran the café with her friend Jane who helped with the baking. Apart from the regular weekly visits with friends for a chat over coffee, Jean sometimes called in on her way to Church and Margaret occasionally had a coffee there on her own. They always felt welcome as there was such a friendly atmosphere in the Café. Jean and Margaret and their friends feel it is a real shame that the shop and Emily’s Café have recently closed down.

Lesley told customers stories about ‘Emily’s ghost’, who the café was named after. ‘Emily’s ghost’ was a friendly presence not an evil apparition. Sometimes when Lesley and Keith opened up in the morning they noticed that things had been moved in the shop and Café – more so in the case of the upstairs Café. The owners of the Computer Shop next door to Aspects also said that articles were moved mysteriously in their shop. Lesley used to say that at times the lights in the shop and Café went on at night when no-one was there – and Emily’s ghost got the blame! It was as though the lights going on were a sign that ‘Emily’s time’ was starting. In one corner of Emily’s Café, Lesley said she often felt there was a ‘presence’. Lesley firmly believed that this ‘presence in the corner’ was Emily’s ghost.

Aspects shop was probably the nicest gift shop in Chester le Street - somewhere where you could guarantee a warm friendly welcome both in the downstairs shop and the upstairs café. According to Jean, Lesley made a very good Latte coffee in a proper Latte glass. She used a special machine. The coffee went in the glass first, followed by the steam and then the milk. A lovely glass of Latte coffee! Jean has never seen anyone else make a Latte in that way.

So where does ‘Emily’s ghost’ come from? Before Aspects, there were quite a few shops occupying the building, but you probably remember it best as the chemists Timothy White’s. Previous to that, ‘Dalkin’s the Saddlers’ had their shop there. The footballs used in the annual Shrove Tuesday match were made at the Dalkin’s shop and the first floor window of the shop was the one that the football was thrown out to start the match. Emily Dalkin is thought to have been a daughter of the owners. When the Dalkin family ran the shop, they probably lived in rooms above, which may be why the presence of ‘Emily’s ghost’ was felt more in the upstairs Café than downstairs in the shop.

Reminiscence by Audrey, Jean and Margaret November 2010.

Emily’s Cafe