In­con­ve­nience of su­per­mar­ket shut­down

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Remember When? The Kentish Express Memories Page W -

While mod­ern­day con­ve­nience stores now grace town cen­tres up and down the coun­try, they are cer­tainly noth­ing like the ‘su­per­mar­kets’ of yes­ter­year, some of which have moved out of town in the last 30 years.

To­day, mini-ver­sions of our larger chains such as Tesco, Sains­bury’s and Ice­land are of­ten a ‘poor ex­cuse’ for what once was.

They are only for con­ve­nience, you say. Well I think read­ers will join me in agree­ing it is some­what alarm­ing that you have to go lit­er­ally ‘out’ of Ash­ford to find most things nowa­days.

That’s very frus­trat­ing for those of us of a cer­tain age who re­mem­ber you could get al­most ev­ery­thing in town at one time.

One such ex­am­ple of a proper town cen­tre su­per­mar­ket was Sains­bury’s, who were lo­cated in the town’s heart up un­til 2000.

Af­ter open­ing their first counter ser­vice store at 18 High Street (now the NatWest) in 1934, and a self-ser­vice store at 56 High Street (now Boots) in Oc­to­ber 1968, the com­pany opened its first de­cent sized store, com­plete with mul­ti­storey car park, in Park Street in 1978.

One will never re­ally know why Sains­bury’s closed their Park Street store, es­pe­cially as it was still ex­tremely prof­itable while run­ning along­side the out-of-town By­brook store that opened in Au­gust 1992.

The town cen­tre site was pur­pose built and Sains­bury’s owned the car park too so con­ces­sional park­ing was a ben­e­fit. But the com­pany were one of many un­der the il­lu­sion that ev­ery­one had a car and shop­pers would buck the trend and jump on a short-lived ded­i­cated free bus ser­vice to the out-of-town store. So many were left out in the cold when the store closed, be­com­ing a Wilkinson store a year later.

It had even been ex­tended in 1986, when neigh­bour­ing Park Mall was built, so why did they do away with a lit­tle gold mine?

In re­cent times, Sains­bury’s has vastly al­tered their out-of-town sites, and the By­brook branch was ex­tended and made to look more like a B&Q ware­house on the in­side when the ceil­ing was re­moved. In the minds of many, the store was made too big, much against the wishes of loyal shop­pers. Even 24-hour shop­ping has been aban­doned in re­cent years.

This week’s Re­mem­ber When looks back at the chain’s fi­nal town cen­tre store in Park Street, which opened in the days be­fore bar­codes, scan­ning and dot.com ser­vices were even thought of.

Do you have any pho­to­graphs or slides that you would be will­ing to lend me, to en­able them to be scanned and fea­tured in the Ken­tish Ex­press? If so please write to me: Steve Sal­ter, Ken­tish Ex­press Re­mem­ber When, 34-36 North Street, Ash­ford, TN24 8JR, email me at re­mem­ber­when_k­mash@ hot­mail.co.uk or fol­low me on Twit­ter @SteveKMAsh­ford. Or you can also leave a tele­phone mes­sage for me with brief de­tails by call­ing 01233 623232.

Ed­in­burgh Road, Ash­ford in 1977, and a pic­ture show­ing the se­cond self-ser­vice Sains­bury’s store in Ash­ford town cen­tre be­ing built on land for­merly oc­cu­pied by hous­ing. Un­til con­struc­tion started the land had been used as the site of­fices for the con­struc­tion of Char­ter House. The store, branch num­ber 032, was de­signed by ar­chi­tects Ley Col­beck and Part­ners and built by Wilt­shier of Parham Road, Can­ter­bury. It opened to­gether with a four floor multi-storey car park in 1978.

Park Street, Ash­ford in 1978, and a pic­ture show­ing trol­l­lies lined up out­side the third Ash­ford store for su­per­mar­ket gi­ant Sains­bury’s. Their ear­lier store, which had opened 10 years pre­vi­ously, be­came a branch of Boots the Chemist in 1979. The store, typ­i­cal of a 1970s Sains­bury’s, was fur­ther ex­tended and re­fur­bished in 1986, show­ing a con­tin­ual in­vest­ment in the town. It ran along­side the out-of-town 1992 store un­til 2000. The for­mer Sains­bury’s store is now home to Wilkinson.

Park Street, Ash­ford in 1978, and an im­age look­ing in­side the su­per­mar­ket, show­ing pre-bar­code days with the tra­di­tional Sweda cash reg­is­ters and boxes at the rear of the check­outs. The branch was still bustling up un­til the day it closed.

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