Chippy Minton moved to Chandler’s Ford in the late 1980s. In this second instalment of his memories from the time, he writes about some of the shops that were around Chandler’s Ford and Eastleigh at the time.
The Chestnut Avenue hypermarket had been there for some years. In those days it was still trading as Gateway (having recently changed from Carrefour – and many people still referred to it as Carrefour). Asda took over the store fairly soon after I moved to the area – though continued to sell Gateway branded goods for several weeks. The store closed over an Easter weekend and reopened as a fully Asda-ised store.
In those days the store was not open on a Sunday (can you imagine that today?). The car park was used for a charity car boot sale – a different charity was supported each week and was quite a lucrative money earner.
Another change over the years has been to the layout of the car park. The roadway running along the right-hand side of the car park (parallel to Bournemouth Road) was one way – exit only. This still causes me confusion today as I forget to look right as pulling out from the parking area.
For those interested in how prices have increased, you could buy a 2-pint carton of milk from Gateway for 32 pence. I would sometimes buy a slice of bread pudding (18 pence) at the same time, to make up to a round 50 pence.
Stoke Park Farm
Express dairies provided a home delivery service from a depot in Shakespeare Road. It was also around this time that Stoke Park Farm started a milk round. Their unique selling point was an evening delivery (“tomorrow’s milk today”) which suited my lifestyle, as I didn’t have to worry about milk being left out all day if I left for work before the milk arrived.
The Stoke Park Dairy delivery service operated for a few years before closing down – its rounds were taken over by Unigate, who later morphed into Milk&More (and the evening delivery reverted to the more traditional morning one).
Moving along Bournemouth Road from Asda / Gateway, we had Rowles Garage on the corner of Leigh Road, which was a British Leyland franchise (remember them?). It’s now Picador and Vauxhall. The Hut was, even then, a Beefeater restaurant – possibly one of the longer-serving establishments to be still trading under the same name. Further towards Winchester, what is now the King Rufus has gone through several transformations in the same period – back in 1988 it was a Berni Inn.
Banks and post office on Bournemouth Road
There were at least two banks in the parades of shops just south of the railway – a Barclays on the station side, and a National Westminster opposite.
I forget precisely which buildings each occupied, but think National Westminster may have been in or next to what is now the Indian restaurant. These were both in addition to the branches that are still at Fryern – though they may have had limited opening hours.
I don’t recall ever going inside either branch, but a housemate and I would sometimes go down together on a Friday or Saturday evening to draw money from our respective bank’s cash machine. This was in the days when cash machines could be found only outside banks, and you could only draw money from your own bank’s machines.
A quick anecdote about cash machines – though it may well be an apocryphal tale.
The first cash machines were operated with a voucher – about the size of a cheque. You typed in a six-digit number, opened a drawer, placed the voucher inside, and closed the drawer. The machine whirred and clicked, and when you reopened the drawer the voucher had been replaced with a neatly bound packed of ten one-pound notes. All well and good, except that all you needed to do to open the drawer was to enter a six-digit combination that the machine recognised.
One such combination was 930330, and what was displayed in the window of every bank in the country? A notice declaring: “this branch is open between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm”. Consequently, many cash machines were put out of action on a Saturday night when people discovered this code and found the drawer a useful receptacle for their chip wrappers.
Other shops I remember from this area are an electrical white goods store – Ketts(?) – at the edge of Central precinct (now copy and print – but the building is still called Ketts House) and a fireplace shop further up Bournemouth Road. I seem to also remember a small post office in what is now the nail bar (or may have been the Indian restaurant, if that wasn’t Nat West).
At Fryern Arcade there was a laundromat – maybe where the right-hand part of Costa Coffee now is – and Beatties, the toy and model shop, at the bottom. The Co-Op was a Safeway, and the Dovetail Centre at the Methodist church was under construction.
Before my first expedition to Eastleigh I looked at a map and decided that “High Street” sounded like the place where all the shops would be. But I entered from the Chestnut Avenue end, not realising there was a long residential street to walk along before I reached the town centre. And even then, my path was blocked by the under-construction Swan Centre.
I reckon the foundation stone for the Swan Centre must have been unveiled at about the time that I moved to the area.
Tesco was there before the Swan Centre was built but was closed for a few weeks while the building works took place. Tesco offered a free bus service to the Bursledon store during this period.
The opening of the Swan Centre was a bit of an anti-climax. Most of the units were still empty, or being fitted. I think that Boots and W H Smith were pretty much the only stores there.
This wasn’t unusual for new shopping centres – I suppose it is a chicken-and-egg situation: the shops can’t open before the centre, but the centre needs the shops before it can open. But it wasn’t long before the rest of the units started to fill, and the Swan Centre became an asset to the town centre.
Another Chippy Bonus – what was the name and type of store that first occupied the unit now occupied by Poundland? Just to clarify: that’s the store that until recently was the 99p Store, not the one where Woolworths used to be – I don’t make these Chippy Bonuses that easy!
Elsewhere in the town centre could be found two – if not three – greengrocers. No KFC or MacDonald’s (happy days?), but there was a Wimpy in Market Street. The site of the KFC was a pet food store. My favourite store was possibly Collins, the hardware store.
A few years later, after moving to the town centre, I was in and out of there so many times one Saturday to get different supplies the owner said “next time, just come in through the back door”. There may have been a café in High Street, but I can’t remember any other coffee shops other than the café at the bus station – we didn’t imagine that one day we would have the plethora of coffees shops that we have today.
Does the mention of Wimpy fill you with nostalgia? The place where you were allowed to eat a burger with a knife and fork, and a Brown Derby was the epitome of childhood sophistication!
There are still a few around (there is one in Basingstoke) and I am sometimes tempted to try one for old times’ sake. But I resist on the grounds that either it won’t be as good as it used to be, or it will be the same as it was and I will realise that it was never particularly good.
Do you still remember these shops and pubs?
Other names that have disappeared, not only from Eastleigh but from all town centres, include the gas showroom (now Salvation Army shop), Dixons (Ponden) , Radio Rentals (Subway or Edinburgh Woollen Mill, or thereabouts), Brentfords (somewhere near Burtons), and QS (Costa Coffee). Burtons, Super Drug, Martins and (possibly) Peacocks are among only a handful of premises that are still trading under the same name as they were in 1988.
Pubs in the town centre were The Home Tavern (now Wagon Works) and the Royal Mail. The latter was later revamped as a night club (which in one short-lived incarnation featured topless dancers) before eventually being demolished to make way for the Travelodge.
I forget what Stones was, but the site of the Litten Tree was a furniture shop – I forget the name, but there was another branch in Southampton – possibly in Above Bar, but I may be wrong. There was another furniture shop in Leigh Road (now Mumbai Lounge) and a third in Wells Place (now a car park).
Other pubs that have since gone to the great brewery in the sky include the Tabby Cat in Hilitingbury Road, the Golden Hind in Twyford Road, the Victoria Inn at Allbrook and the Eastleigh Hotel in Southampton Road.
All this talk of pubs has made me thirsty, so I will end now and go and get a beer. But I will leave you with another Chippy Bonus – what was the original name of the pub that is now called Stones?
Update: 28th April 2016
I’ve found some old photos on the Francis Frith website.
This one shows the Westminster Bank in Bournemouth Road (national Westminster in my time).
And here we have a Lloyds (which I had forgotten about) on the opposite side of the road.
Further down there was a National Provincial. I think this is where the Barclays that I remember was. I suspect that after the merger of National Provincial and Westminster, the two branches merged, and the National Provincial building was taken over by Barclays.
- Chandler’s Ford from the 1980s – Part 1
- Chandler’s Ford from the 1980s – Part 2
- Chandler’s Ford from the 1980s – Part 3
Part 3 of Chippy’s Chandler’s Ford memories will be published next Wednesday: 30th March 2016.
Follow the link to read more posts from Chippy Minton.