PENNORTH OF CHIPS
When the bulldozers moved in to demolish the old cottages in (Arle) Village Road, the only village shop disappeared too. This was a small shop, supplying a small selection of general items. The mobile shop mentioned in Volume 1 supplemented this limited service to the area.
By 1952 however, this particular area of the estate was developing rapidly, producing an urgent need for shops. In May 1952, the council gave approval for four shops to be built to serve the 844 houses that were already built or under construction.
The shops were to be built on Hesters Way Road, near the junction of Arle Village Road. They consisted of greengrocer and general store, a fishmonger, a chemist's shop and a grocer, each with a two-bedroomed flat over the premises. Advertisements were issued for the tenancies at reasonable rates for the shops and flats.
Over the years the shops on the Hesters Way Road site changed from time to time, at one time boasting a popular 'chippy'. when interest dwindled, Hesters Way Neighbourhood Project was set up in what had been for years a butcher's shop. In December 1996, The Neighbourhood Shop, selling second-hand clothes, books and assorted items to help finance community projects in Hesters Way opened next door.
At around the same time as the Hesters Way Road site was being built, The Borough Surveyor was also authorised to discuss licences with the Ministry of Works and prepare a brochure giving details of a central shopping area. On the ministry's insistence, the main shopping centre for the whole estate of 2,650 houses and flats was planned around the village green (Coronation Square) and along the new spinal road. This area was to provide sites for a considerable number of large shops in addition to any public buildings such as a cinema or public house. As it happened, this larger development was subject to a number of delays and was not completed until around 1960.
Alderman A. J. Bettridge reminded the committee of the necessity for a sub-post office on the estate; but their aim was to have a Crown Post Office since a sub-post office would only offer limited facilities. Once again, it was several years before this was forthcoming.
There were over 200 applicants for shops at the new shopping centre site and care was taken to ensure that the selection of shops met with the needs of the estate. Given that there are currently a number of empty shops on the Coronation Square Shopping Centre, it would be nice if there were as much interest in taking up the premises today.
In March 1960, Burton's Supermarket opened with the help of TV personalities, the Brooke Bond chimps. This ultra modern food store boasted over 5,000 lines on display, including meat in refrigerated cabinets. To put it in perspective, this was a few years before Sainsburys or Tesco opened supermarkets in Cheltenham High Street. Burton's stocked everything the Hesters Way housewife could want, all under one roof, with the addition of a first floor coffee lounge where they could relax and have a gossip. Shoppers found the 'fast service' vastly different from the limited service offered by the village shop a few years previously.
There have been many changes in the shops on both of the sites but I can't imagine a small child going to the post office to collect dad's benefit and being told as Mrs. Webb was (Volume 1) to tell him to sober up and collect his own, can you?