Obituary: Fond memories of a Hampstead shopkeeper and familiar sight on both Heath and High Street
- Credit: Archant
Damian Pullen who died unexpectedly on June 26 was a well-known figure in North West London.
The youngest of seven children, he was born in Regent’s Park Terrace, Camden. However, at the age of three his family moved to Hampstead – to a house in Holly Place next to St Mary’s Church where his parents worshipped and he later served on the altar with his brother Xavier.
Damian and Xavier both attended the Bishop Challoner School in Woodside Park and after leaving school Damian went on to study for his A Levels at the Kilburn Polytechnic.
Shortly after leaving college he teamed up with his elder brother Christopher, who was running the Cricklewood branch of the famous ice cream parlour in Chalk Farm Road, Marine Ices.
Many of Damian’s former customers who were children at that time still remember to this day the jokey banter he exchanged with them whilst serving them ice cream cones through the front window of the shop.
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The two brothers later opened a jeans shop in Golders Green Road, and on Sundays took the spare stock to Wembley Market where, once again, Damian’s charm and witty repartee encouraged the customers to part with more money than they had originally intended to spend.
In 1979 Damian parted company with his brother to become the manager of The Pine Shop in West End Lane, West Hampstead.
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During the next twenty years he oversaw the expansion of the business, which eventually had a total of seven outlets at various locations in North West and West London, Essex and Hertfordshire.
When the owner of The Pine Shop retired in 2000 Damian and his wife Christine bought the business and changed its name to Woods and Woods.
Damian and Christine were married in 1981. Their first home was a flat in West Hampstead just around the corner from The Pine Shop, but in due course they moved to the Hampstead Garden Suburb, where they lived for nearly thirty years.
During this time Damian became a keen tennis player and every Monday morning without fail he and his coach enjoyed a battle of shots and wits over the net at the Northway Tennis Centre
In 2005 Damian’s home life came full circle when he and Christine moved back to Hampstead Village.
Having finally sold Woods and Woods in the summer of 2014 he retired, and thereafter he and his dog Billy became a familiar sight on the Heath and in the High Street – particularly at the Café Nero where both attracted a “fan club” of regular customers and staff.
He will be much missed.