OLD NANTWICH PICTURES (11)

The first of three branches                       Updated

The staff of P.H.Chesters outside the original premises at the end of Hospital Street. In the days before Health and Safety regulations, meat and poultry were hung in the open air at the front of the shop.                             Picture and information from "Lost Houses in Nantwich"

PHILIP Hale Chesters' grocer's shop at the end of Hospital Street was so successful that over the years he opened more branches in Pepper Street and High Street. Sadly, none of the branches still exist. 

   The picture above was taken around 1901 but the building, and two public houses round the corner in Pillory Street, were demolished in 1910. Not only was the old building replaced by a more modern structure - designed by Nantwich architects Bower and Edleston - but the end of Pillory Street was widened to its present dimensions. Previously, there had been many accidents on the blind corner.

   Today, the more ornate building has identical frontages on to both Hospital Street and Pillory Street. The "porthole-like" windows in the roof of the new building were not favoured by everyone when they first appeared on the Nantwich street scene, some likening them to the recently-launched ship, "The Lusitania".

   Mr Chesters, and around a dozen apprentices, "lived over the shop", as did many business people of the day.

   The premises were occupied by other businesses, including H.S.Jones and Son, wholesale confectioners, and Boots the Chemists, before the present owners, Clive Christian.  

 

Nantwich historian Andrew Lamberton added: "The current shop was built in 1911. The architect was

E.H.Edleston of Edleston & Bower. It is now Grade 2 listed, and described as "a corner block of unusual design with details of French late 17th Century derivation." If you examine the carved swags of fruit, you will see that every one is different. I know Boots the Chemist had it in the 1960s and before Christians it was a carpet shop."

 

oThis page was sparked by a request for more information about the "fabulous" building seen by Caz and Tony Bowers when they visited Nantwich. A comment from them appears on the Things You Say page.

 

AFTER reading the information here, Caz e-mailed:

"Thanks for your prompt and most interesting account of the building. They don't build 'em like that any more do they?

"We didn't notice that the swags were different but will certainly be making a return visit to this very pretty town to take another look.

"The photo of the interior as a grocer's brought back happy childhood memories of going into a similar grocer's and sitting on a large wooden chair while my grandmother had some butter cut from a large slab.

"She would sometimes take a selection of biscuits from a row of glass-topped tins on a stand in front of the counter - an early version of 'pick and mix' ! She'd hand them to the grocer who weighed them and tipped them into a brown paper bag which he then swung round by the corners to secure it, a manoeuvre which always fascinated me.

"Sides of bacon hung from ceiling hooks above the counter and the huge red bacon slicer was another source of fascination for me as a small child, I remember the grocer asking my grandmother if she wanted it slicing on number 3 or number 4. Happy days."

 

lRecall those happy days next time you are in Nantwich, Caz. Call in at A.T.Welch, the pork butcher, grocer, delicatessan and coffee shop in Hospital Street, and have some bacon sliced at a thickness of your choice. And while you are there, have a look at the replica old shop. [Other coffee shops are available.]

 

On a personal note, this is my mother serving behind the counter at P.H.Chesters. A similar photograph would appear to indicate that this was taken around 1935.

 

Note the chair for the use of customers, with a letter C cut into the back. Unlike these days when a dash around the supermarket is the norm, customers sat in the chair while the assistant fetched the required items from the shelves and made up the order. 

 

   There appear to be Easter eggs on the counter. And are the counter top and the insets made of marble?

 

The corner of Hospital Street and Pillory Street (left) and the Pillory Street facade (above)

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