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Article and photographs by Paul Wright, 2021
W H Smith
26-28 High Street
Run up to closure

The Till area
The question is a sad one, what is going to close in Rushden next?

Well we know that in the summer of 2021 we lost the Peacocks store, Argos also went, and was closely followed by Barclays Bank branch in town.

Now it was the turn of W. H. Smith, at number 26 - 28 High Street, to wave us goodbye. They have been in business for the best part of 230 years as a company. The firm took advantage of the boom of the railways, by opening news-stands on railway stations, starting off at Euston in the centre of London in 1848.

Newspaper titles were a bit different during that period, with such names as the British Gazette, Daily Citizen, Daily Dispatch, Daily Chronicle, British Worker and the Daily Express.

cards some of the bargains
Card section
Fancy a bargain?

So from the days of the commuter buying their newspaper and books, for what would have been an ideal way to while away the hours in your train compartment, to the modern traveller, climbing aboard a sometimes over crowded commuter train carrying their morning cuppa, and then sitting glued to a tablet, laptop or mobile phone. Consuming news content etc via an electronic screen, instead of the ink covered paper form, that sometimes ended up being re-cycled down the '€œChip shop'!

But the footfall on railway stations, and in airports up and down the country had been decimated by the pandemic caused by Covid-19, which started at the end of 2019.

Over the years W. H. Smith had spread their wings a bit, and even had interests in '€œOur Price'€ records, John Menzies, Do it All DIY chain, The Gadget shop, Past Times shops etc.

W. H. Smith are closing 25 stores after recording a £280m annual loss, and sales were hammered at its sites in train stations and airports. The closures will result in around 200 people losing their job, in addition to the 1500 job losses, which are part of plans announced earlier by the company.

Our shop in the High street was selling stock at a 50% reduction in price prior to its closure, and on my visit it was fairly busy. In the final week it was 75% reductions on most stock. (not the maps!) Saturday, August 28th, 2021 was the closing date for W. H. Smith in town.

making a purchase final days
Customer making a purchase
Former neighbours

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