LETTER: Market Rasen - Shame to see shops’ demise

With the many references in your letters page concerning how we can rejuvenate our High Street,

I am afraid I am of the firm conviction that all these ideas of Mary Portas and MR BIG are just wishful thinking, and that the Front Street as we all know it has gone forever.

When my Wife Joan came from Leeds in 1940 with her parents who had bought the Greyhound Pub (Circa 1639) she was absolutely delighted by 
what she saw, and immediately fell in love with Market Rasen.

Then, there was a veritable cornucopia of small shops, dress shops such as Lacey and Clarkes, with merchandise on two floors, Messrs Topliss and Douthwaites, there were Bakers Starbucks Ronnie Burns, Cottinghams and even earlier George Footitt, who were combined with many grocery outlets, Robinsons and Marshalls, the International Stores, Hunters Tea store the large Coop and other smaller outlets.

We had real Ice Cream made every day, from Garnetts, the Blue Bird Cafe, Egens in Oxford Street , what a delight, along with all the many Sweet Shops, a young lads paradise.

We had two shoe shops Wyles and Dunnes, two shoe repairers, three barbers shops, Barber Smith, Freddie Goodliffe and I believe Jack Toyne, what an experience to have a shave with an expertly wielded cut throat razor, leaving one with a face as smooth a silk.

We had a jeweller who also repaired clocks and watches, gents outfitters Brumbys Watsons and of course Bradleys who also supplied all the De Aston uniforms.

We had three chemists, two china shops Miss Eyre and Faulkners.

We had a very good furniture shop kept by Mr Thies and a good second hand one run by the Mr Walker.

Two newsagents one of whom was W H Smiths, four fish and chip shops, four excellent butchers shops, Lancaster, Cockings, Foremans and Taskers, fortunately we still have two of them still with us, as we still have good old Starbucks, I was an errand boy there in 1938.

All of these shops trade successfully and made a good living, back then no Cut Throat prices, no buy one get one free, no buy and pay next year, just fair and honest trading, these shops were in the same hands year after year, and there were no empty shops in Rasen,

I can’t recall hardly ever a shop changing ownership whilst I grew up there.

Of course large retail outlets like Meadowhall will attract people for day out and people now have so many cars compared to those days, but the real cancer that is slowly strangling our small shops is when a large retail outlet opens in Market Rasen, in this case Tesco’s who attempt to be all things to all people and will stock any commodities, particularly those of which our small shops here have sold for years, in an attempt to have a complete monopoly of the Town.

Who after parking there on their large car park and having shopped will then come back into the Town, park again to buy what?

These large retailers are doing this all around this Country of ours and who can halt their progress, certainly not our wishful thinkers.

As a challenge to anyone, if they were offered a shop here in Rasen rent free for a year, what would they stock and sell to make a decent living.

I do not know and certainly would not take the gamble, that my friend is the problem.

As I have said everything is loaded against them, we now have internet shopping, which gains ground every day,

I see that at Christmas up to 50% was ordered by this method, even the larger stores that are under threat from this new technology, but time marches on and with it all new ideas, especially in the computer world, and we smaller people will be soon left behind.

Small market towns like Market Rasen are unique and should be preserved, it did not help when our lovely Town Hall Cinema was demolished, the beautiful facade with its lovely stone pillars, wrought Iron Gates and the ageless Town Hall clock looking out over the Market Place, surely this could have been incorporated into the new development by the Co-op, as also the Historic Greyhound pub.

With its links to the Civil War and Cromwells men being there, why pull it down and replace it with such a pale imitation, all these were part of our lovely town and diminish it by their removal.

I will end here, all I can add is how truly sorry I am seeing old Rasen I loved gradually but surely disappearing.

Dennis Hall

By hand