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Articles and photographs by Paul Wright
High Street Closures
& memories
In the Lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 for Covid 19,
several High Street business have folded.
Mostly far newer than our history pages have recorded.


INDEX
1
Argos
2
Barclays Bank
3
John Lewis in Waitrose
4
Peacock's & Rushden Music

1

Argos - People in Rushden and Higham are going to travel out of town if they want to use an Argos store from now on. The name Argos evolved from the end of the “Green shield” stamps era!

The growth of Green Shield Stamps gave its founder, Richard Tompkins, a bright idea: what if customers could use cash to buy products from its catalogue as well as stamps?

So, in 1973, he started rebranding Green Shield Stamps as Argos, named after the Greek city where he had been inspired, and because it would feature high up in any alphabetical listings.

They even went on to developing their selling base by launching “Argos TV” in 2011, that platform lasted until the spring of 2013.

the store
The windows covered with notices of closure
And “Argos” was acquired in 2016 by supermarket “Sainsbury’s”.

The area of Rushden high street that Argos has occupied was used by “Lawrence fashions” into the mid 1970s. And then a supermarket called “Bishops” moved in during 1974.

After Bishop's the Co-op took on the shop; the good old Co-op also ventured in to the realm of savings stamps during the 1970s. The Co-op electrical store was one of the best around, and would arrange a delivery of white goods etc, at a time to suit their loyal customers, sometimes within the same hour.

Then Budgen's came in 1991, then moved to College Street, until closure in 2007.

Next to occupy that College Street space was “Wilkinson’s”, which at one stage was home to the Post Office. The Post Office is now to be found in Cherry’s pharmacy in the High Street. [the only Post Office in Rushden now, no sub-offices left!]

So, yet another shop in the High Street has bitten the dust, and more “Tumbleweed” can make it’s way from what was Charlie Robinson’s to Billy Keller’s former shop.

window notice
far window notice and inside
Parent company Sainsbury's revealed their plans to open 350 more Argos stores in Sainsbury’s and Argos collection points in supermarkets and convenience stores in three years time, by early spring of 2024.

The announcement was made, the week ending April 30th, 2021. It did seem rather sudden that “Argos” vacated Rushden, and moved to “Sainsbury’s” in Wellingborough, on Wednesday 16th of June, 2021. The interior picture was taken through the window - already cleared!

One customer did write a review stating, Argos has just opened in the Wellingborough branch of Sainsbury's. But the Argos branch in Rushden has closed permanently. So, before the Rushden branch was closed, I could walk and get what I needed. Now I have to travel 6 miles by bus or car. This is definitely a step backwards and not a very green solution.

2

Another Rushden closure just days after Argos shutting, this time in the banking sector, Barclays bank in town closed for the final time on Friday 2nd July, 2021.

Customers will need to go to the Barclays branch at number 8 Market Street in Wellingborough in future.

3

This came in the same week that “Waitrose” announced they were to scale down their Rushden floor space, and would be subletting part of their store to another, yet unknown brand?

Originally the “Waitrose” building at Crown Park was a “Safeway” store in the mid 1990’s, then becoming a Morrison’s for a short while, and finally “Waitrose”, the food and home side of “John Lewis”. A fuel site came later, with the addition of a drive through car wash. The car wash was demolished in 2020.

Earlier in the year of 2021, the John Lewis Partnership confirmed it would shut more sites, and said its “partners” would not receive their annual bonus for the first time in nearly seventy years.

Locally the John Lewis store in Peterborough was closed, along with three other’s in York, Sheffield and Aberdeen.

We are now left with Percy House’s the jewellers, and the excellent Osborne’s toy shop to fly the flag for what was Rushden High Street of old.

4

Firms normally herald their arrival on our high streets, with a virtual fanfare, but when they depart, they depart with more of a whimper.

Let’s face it, how many people really knew when Argos was leaving town? They ended going to Wellingborough in June 2021.

So the closure of “Peacocks” in our high street was maybe another shop that was a victim of online shopping during 2021. Sitting above the store was “Rushden Music”, who had been there for over ten years, but has shut too.

The former home of “Peacocks” started off as the site of the “Waverley” hotel. Going back in time, I remember my late mother taking me to see the film “Moby Dick” at the “Palace” cinema, one evening in 1956. And we did go in to the Waverley Hotel for a cup of tea prior to the film starting at 19.00.

Peacock's with Rushden Music above and the notice on one ofthe
windows to shop online!!

Rushden enjoyed having three cinemas, (the ‘Pictures’ as we called it then). They were the Ritz, the Royal Theatre, and of course the Palace.

Down at Rushden Lakes, the “Cineworld” cinema opened in the summer of 2019.

And after the Waverley was pulled down, it became “Fine Fare”, our original “Supermarket”, way back in 1960s. The brand name did change several times, and has been “Gateway and Somerfield” over the years.

On a mini plus sign, a new business arrived on the High Street on Thursday 1st July, 2021, in the shape of another greeting card shop at 42 High Street, called “Cardfair”. They claim to have the “UK’s largest range of exclusive gifts etc.”

Cardfair
Cardfair - a new arrival in 2021


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