5 people who live the vintage life in Cheshire

Susie Erlam, Annabel Nickson, Jennifer Hill, Joanne Linder, Billy Gibbons

Susie Erlam, Annabel Nickson, Jennifer Hill, Joanne Linder, Billy Gibbons - Credit: Archant

The past is another country... but not for these lovers of a bygone era, as Janet Reeder discovers

Susie Earlam

Susie Earlam - Credit: Archant

Susie Erlam

Susie lives in Heald Green and has been an avid vintage fan since she was a child. She has a ‘modern vintage’ living-themed blog called Old Fashioned Susie.

‘I don’t really know where my love of vintage came from. Maybe it was my maternal grandmother,’ says the 34-year-old mother of Mary Jane, aged five, and Elizabeth, 20-months.

‘She was a hoarder, I guess, but as a child all I could see were the pretty things she had collected, the glittery brooches. There were loads of clothes, hats and gloves that she never really wore and to me it was an Aladdin’s cave.’

‘My main thing is clothing. I have jumpsuits from the 70s, coats from the 1950s - a real mixed bag. I’m not a purist like the people who only dress in clothing from 1947 but it is whatever I’m attracted to.

‘ I suppose these are clothes that are attractive to me and that I wasn’t seeing in the ‘normal’ shops. I love the shape and style of the clothes. Somehow the clothes from the high street didn’t look right on my body.’

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Her husband Dave, 47, doesn’t share her passion for vintage clothing. ‘Unless you count his collection of leather jackets,’ she laughs. However, the week we talk she’s expecting a film crew from the Posh Pawn programme.

‘My husband has a huge collection of vintage comics, so many that they are taking up too much space,’ she says.

‘So we thought “let’s sell them”. He’s been cataloguing them for weeks.’


Joanne Linder of Vintage Twee

Joanne Linder of Vintage Twee - Credit: Archant

Joanne Linder

It was Joanne’s love of all things from a bygone era that led to her Marple-based Vintage Twee business. Five years later she continues to create stylish handcrafted stationery, table décor and accessories for the loveliest of occasions.

‘It all began from a love for afternoon tea, classic romance and an unshakeable ambition. Vintage Twee was the lifelong dream of a little girl whose favourite childhood pastimes were her ‘making box’ and preparing her Great Auntie Edith’s vintage tea trolley with fresh cakes and sandwiches,’ says 32-year-old Joanne from Hazel Grove.

‘I feel an affinity with the 1940s and 50s and I feel drawn to that era. I love being surrounded by vintage things as they help to inspire me and my work .’

Joanne spent two years in a psychology career before she set up Vintage Twee, combining her love of vintage with her love of making things.

Now the business is going from strength to strength, creating bespoke wedding invitations, place settings and stationery and more recently expanding into baby showers and hen parties.

‘We make rosettes for hens who want a more classy event,’ she explains.

‘Both my studio and home have a vintage look. I also love dressing in a vintage style, especially at wedding fairs because it reflects the whole lifestyle and people love to see it. I have a few dresses from Vivienne Holloway in London - who does retro clothing - and I have my hair done in victory rolls. It’s great to get dressed up for the occasion.’


Jennifer Hill and Andy Muldoon of the Tea Alchemist at the Yard

Jennifer Hill and Andy Muldoon of the Tea Alchemist at the Yard - Credit: Archant

Jennifer Hill

Jennifer runs The Tea Alchemist in Alderley Edge, an old fashioned apothecary-style purveyor of tea, cakes and vintage remedies.

‘The shop is set up as a Victorian apothecary and has a cabinet with all the drawers filled with different blends of teas like chemists used to blend medicines.

‘We’re principally a merchants although we also wanted to mimic and recreate what we’ve lost in the retail experience. There are cakes and scones every day and we do a monthly afternoon tea service that people can also book for parties and events.

‘I love the Victorian era. I actually come from an English teaching background and that is really where the fascination for the period started. As vintage has become more and more popular it often loses that element of Victorianism but it just seemed perfect for the kind of business we wanted to do.

‘I was teaching at a girls’ school in Sandbach and I decided to give it a go. Now we’ll be moving to The Yard in Alderley Edge where we will expand the business with an Alchemy of Food and Alchemy of Cosmetics range. We will also be growing our own produce in a vertical garden so we can provide people with the freshest produce, ramping up the health benefits.

‘The aim is to become as self-sufficient as we can.’


Matt and Annabel Nickson Copyright James Melia 2012

Matt and Annabel Nickson Copyright James Melia 2012 - Credit: Archant

Matt and Annabel Nickson

Matt and Annabel are vintage DJs who are making a living spinning 78s at Stockport Vintage Market, private parties, weddings and festivals. They’re passionate about 78rpm shellac recording and collecting vintage fashion.

‘We got into it through the love of the gramophone. Both Annabel and I are collectors and we now have a hoard of over 20,000 discs at our home near Manchester city centre,’ explains Matt.

‘I’m also a sax player and was doing a wedding gig at Portmeirion, which is a nice eclectic place. They wanted a vintage DJ and I said I’d do it. It went down so well that we got two gigs booked immediately.’

Soon the DJ business took over and Matt, a former partner at Matt and Phredd’s in Manchester’s Northern Quarter found their It’s a Wind Up Vintage 78s DJ being booked all over the country -including on their doorstep in Stockport.

‘We had such a collection of records we went there to sell them and ended up playing in return for getting a stall,’ says 48-year-old Matt.

‘We work all over Cheshire. Next week we’re at Arley Hall and in Malpas for a private party. It’s really taken off.’

After being together for seven years the pair married in 2012 at Victoria Baths in Manchester. It was a distinctly vintage affair with a 1950s tea party in the afternoon for 300 guests who quaffed Babycham and tea served in metal teapots. There was even a pork pie wedding cake.

Of course, the clothing aspect is important to them both, although Matt insists his Panama hat and gentlemanly styling is classic, rather than fancy dress.

For Annabel, clothes have always been an interest: ‘I started collecting vintage clothing before it was even known as vintage,’ says the 48-year-old.

Billy Gibbons in his 1950's music room

Billy Gibbons in his 1950's music room - Credit: Archant

‘I used to go to Oxfam shops and pick up 1960s gold lame suits from Harrods. Then I met a seamstress who gave me a collection of clothes that her clients had never collected from the 1950s, I also made my own clothes and have a collection of vintage sewing patterns, although as I’ve get older I have been careful about what I wear and prefer to mix things up with some newer or contemporary pieces too.’ w


Billy Gibbons

Musician Billy Gibbons is obsessed by the 1950s, so much so, he can even be seen driving around Cheshire in a ‘rocket’ car from the era.

‘I was born in the 1950 and liked it so much, I stayed there,’ says the larger-than-life entertainer, from Audlem.

‘It all started when I saw Blue Peter of all programmes, aged about nine. There was an item on it about dogs and they showed them having a race around a track but it wasn’t this that interested me, it was the music they were playing. It was Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog. That opened my ears to the music and to cut a very long story short I went on to teach myself to play the drums, followed by the guitar, double bass and the electric bass. I also play the spoon and the saw!’

He currently sings in a rockabilly band called New Moon but it is perhaps his day job which brings the most joy for both him and others.

‘I work in two care homes, Minshull Court Nursing Home in Crewe and Audlem Country Nursing Home and the thing is, I absolutely love it,’ he enthuses.

‘It’s the best job in the world for me because I’m into the 1950s and many of the people in the care homes were teenagers in the 1950s so the tales they tell me are priceless.’

His home is packed with 1950s memorabilia which people have either donated or were throwing out, while his 1950s gear is bought from retro shops, charity shops and some specialist outfitters.

‘The most expensive thing I have in my home is in the kitchen. It’s a £15 radio because everything has either been given to me or I’ve found it in skips (with the owners’ permission). I’m rather like a Rockabilly womble.

‘People say to me “would you like a 1950s fridge?” and I can’t refuse. I now have nine of them.’

Billy is also the proud owner of a 1950s Ford Duce Coupe, which he’s had for 20 years - off and on.

‘I’ve sold it three times and three times I’ve bought it back,’ he says.

‘Circumstances dictated I had to sell it but I was always lucky to get it back.’

And the best and worst thing about living in the 1950s?

‘The worst thing is I can’t find a garage that sells petrol at 1950s prices.

‘The best thing about the 1950s - and this sounds like a cliché - it’s when I get up, I am living the dream. I love the 1950s so much it’s such a thrill to wake up in the era.’