And here we have a mini-High Street Update for you. An interim post, if you will. It’s almost poetic in its symmetry, balance and poignancy. Almost.
We have three photos that say something about the state of the modern suburban high street. Although we really ought to have kicked off with an empty shop we’ve spared you that depressing site despite there being plenty to choose from in Twickenham.
First, The Crown on Richmond Road, newly refurbed with a foodie focus after a long period of closure and already getting some good feedback on Twitter.
Second, the display at The Coffee Lab cafe on King Street. The latest addition to Twickenham’s cafe culture serves good coffee and some impressive looking cakes.
Third, one of the big kids shows up late to the party. And he hasn’t even brought a bottle! It’s the new Sainsbury’s Local at Twickenham Green. Expect a mix of offers, bargains and overinflated prices. Not all on the same items obviously.
The concept of an indoor market in Twickenham sounds intriguing. When local resident Alan Winter wrote to the Richmond & Twickenham Times about his idea and also posted details about it on the ‘Your News’ section of twickerati
Twickenham. More spark needed. Apply within.
it generated a good deal of interest. In fact, here at twickerati
HQ we thought it warranted a place on the front page of the site. So, with plenty of lively debate on here and elsewhere about the state of our high streets, we hand over to Alan to explain his idea and how it could work. Oh, and he’d like your support too…
“An indoor community market. Could it happen in Twickenham? I think it could. Since floating the idea a month ago I have received messages of goodwill and support for the idea from many people. The positive response has encouraged me to pursue the vision as an active project. Here’s why and how it would work…
Heath Road now hosts an unacceptable number of empty retail and commercial properties. In the 50′s and 60′s this was a busy and varied shopping area with many specialist shops. It is now a sad looking entry route from the west into Twickenham, full of eateries that often don’t last very long or estate agents, barber shops and charity shops. The road is ripe for some serious thinking on a subject that was previously dropped when Poundland took over the then vacant Woolworth site.
So let’s consider the idea of a midweek and weekend indoor market. The idea here is a simple one. The empty shops that are all clustered around Rubens excellent bakery are empty for a reason. These are some of the smallest retail units in Heath Road. Traditionally they would have been taken on by budding entrepreneurs and start-up businesses but in today’s climate these units represent too much of a financial risk for a start-up. Business rates and rents are coming in at a minimum of £20,000 p.a. This is before shop fitting, stocking, insurance and utility costs.
So we need somewhere for the small retail business person to get a foot in the door. Hence Twickenham Indoor Market. Stallholders would be local resident entrepreneurs and craft persons who are unable to afford current retail rents and business rates but who would like somewhere to try out and sell their wares…
Sir? Madam? Can we tempt you with a brief High street update? Indeed, we would be sincerely honoured if you were to peruse the following article. Err, like, now dudes.
York Street’s in a right old state of flux. Carpet House is closing down and the Rugby Store is moving on. From all the newspaper plastered over the windows recently it looks as if Hair Design (10 York Street) is no more. Work going on inside suggests a new shop will be opening there soon selling phone accessories, gadgets, mobile top-ups, sunglasses and the like [Update: It's called Khan Communication]. Din’s Grill – the intermittently open takeaway sans pareil - is getting a refurb and a new independently run takeaway will open in its place; something a little bit different we hear. And it does seem that we may finally see some movement in what was the old Shanghai Village restaurant with the long-awaited (by some, perhaps) arrival of the estate agents Foxtons at 20-24 York Street. A few steps along, the short-lived Bathrooms4All (now Bathrooms4None) store could be getting new occupiers soon…
Prize of the week? Well, more like prize of last week. Remember our recent Twickenham themed caption competition? Congratulations again to our winner, David. The prize was a gift box of Twickenham and twickerati themed cupcakes from Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery on Church Street. And here they are. Good or what?!
Cupcake Prize from Sweetie Pies
And in case you missed it, here’s the photo again:
And the winner?
It was David. He correctly identified Church Street as the home of Sweetie Pies and won the tie break with this caption:
“Lord True regretted agreeing to judge the cup-stacking competition after it ended in a judicial review.”
You can see all the entries here.
“If you’ve got nothing to say, don’t say anything”. Wouldn’t the world be a beautiful place if we all kept to that mantra? Well yes, probably, but here at twickerati we’re not about to find out. Despite things being fairly quiet out there, we’re going to say something about it anyway.
The biggest news is probably the least unexpected, namely that Blockbuster has joined the long list of big name high street casualties. The chain is now in administration although northern-supermarket supremos Morrisons are in the market to buy 49 Blockbuster stores and turn them into Morrisons Locals. Will Blockbuster in Twickenham be one? Will Sean Bean’s dulcet tones soon be ringing out across Heath Road? We don’t know yet. The store is about the right size for a ‘local’ supermarket and in the current climate there might not be too many other retailers willing to take on a unit of that size. The twickerati view is that the best solution is to divide the current shop into several units accommodating, say, a charity shop, a café, and an Indian takeaway. This might work well given how lacking we are in such establishments in Twickenham at the moment. Would a Morrisons work? Who knows? There’s an M&S Food and an Iceland within 200 metres and a Waitrose and Tesco Express within 1/2 mile. Add to that the Sainsburys on Twickenham Green and numerous independents and one might feel there were already enough options to buy food locally.
And talking of the impending Sainsbury’s on The Green, we’re certainly no evangelists for supermarket chains but we have to say that some of the comments submitted to the El Brute licensing committee border on the hysterical. Yes, some have genuinely valid concerns but for a few others it’s as if the addition of another outlet for alcohol near the Green is going to lead to a complete breakdown of civil society and see Twickenham morph from leafy London suburb to post-apocalyptic Mad Max-esque hell hole ruled by teenagers, powered solely by alcopops, Hollister T-shirts and iPhones and where words of more than one syllable are banned.
Opposite Blockbuster the former florist shop Chez Chevallier, the one that was both short-lived and a bit crap, has been re-let. We hear a rumour that a kitchen showroom will be moving in. Now, is there a big demand for new kitchens during a recession? Dunno. But what we do know is that a kitchen showroom would fit with the Council’s Twickenham Action Plan that dreams of having that stretch of Heath Road populated by such establishments. A DIY heaven, if you will. Or will it be a kitchen gadget shop, perhaps? We’ve heard it said that Twickenham lacks a place to purchase that oh-so-special lemon squeezer and so maybe that could work too. Anyone?
Blimey! Just when you thought to yourself, “I’m feeling a bit peckish, when, oh when is twickerati going to run some kind of food themed competition?” and, hey presto, one appears on the screen in front of you. That’s right folks, it’s only bloody competition time isn’t it?!
We know how you love a photo. And we know how you love a cake too. Well how about if twickerati teams up with Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery in Church Street to run a competition combining those two wonderful things? Could life get any better? Well, yes of course it could, if you win the competition that is.
A delicious gift box of twickerati themed cupcakes made especially for you by Sweetie Pies Boutique Bakery. Yum or what?!
What do I need to do?
You just need to answer our tricky question and then wow us with your witty caption in case there’s a tie-break. Well, to be honest, it’s all about the caption competition really.
In which street in Twickenham is Sweetie Pies based?
The witty tie-break photo caption?
Whatever you like as long as it’s not too long. Here’s our topical Twickenham picture to inspire you.
So there you have it. Get to it, Twickenham!
- You can enter by posting your answer and your caption either on here, or on Twitter. If you answer on here you need to use a valid email address otherwise we won’t be able to get in touch with you if you win. Don’t worry, email addresses are not published on the site. If you answer on Twitter you must use the hashtag #twcupcake otherwise we may never find your oh so hilarious answer!
- Your response must answer the question (on which street Sweetie Pies based) as well as including your photo caption.
- Judging of the best caption will be done by Sweetie Pies and twickerati. The judges’ decision is final. So, even if you don’t think the winning caption is funny, tough!
- One entry per person please.
- Closing date is midnight on Monday 25th February.
- The winner will be notified by messenger pigeon and must then contact Sweetie Pies to arrange collection from their shop during normal opening hours (sorry, no deliveries)
- If you don’t like the rules, don’t take part.
- If you want to win a gift box of tasty twickerati themed cup cakes, what are you waiting for?
Woohoo! It’s not long until Valentine’s Day and we all know what that means. That’s right, a beautiful, romantic red rose. Or rather, an undersized rose crammed into a plastic tube which never blooms but simply wilts when exposed to the atmosphere. Damn and blast that Shell petrol station! But it doesn’t have to be like that…
Get the love in Church Street
Twickenham’s Church Street traders will be feeling the Valentine’s lurrrrve and sharing it with you in the form of a treasure hunt. How does that work then? Good question, Einstein. Well, four times a day from the 12th to the 14th February, if you’re in Church Street, then you’ll have the chance of finding a Valentine’s Goodie Bag. The bags might be hiding anywhere in Church Street’s shops, pubs or restaurants, or like our local traffic wardens, they could be lurking in the street, partially hidden from view. And the contents? A Sweetie Pies cup cake (best eat that straight away, obvs) and details of a prize donated by one of the many businesses in Church Street.
There’s a bit more detail through the link below or through the power of love (and the internet), you can click the image to enlarge it and read more.
* More info from the TTBA
Blimey! It’s nearly Christmas. Are you trembling with excitement at the prospect safe in the knowledge that the cake is baked, the presents beautifully wrapped and the cards all written just waiting to be popped into the postbox? And not just any postbox, thank you very much, but a bright red pillar box with VR on the front and a robin perched atop. Wearing a tiny knitted scarf. And boots. Hang on a minute, the little fellow is chirruping away at you. How cute, he’s actually saying something! What’s that little robin? Oh. He wants to know if you’ve still got the receipt for the boots. He doesn’t like the colour. The ungrateful swine! Yes, why oh why can’t Christmas be like it used to be with a piece of coal for a present, a single orange instead of a turkey and just the one day off work. Why indeed?
Our last High Street Update was a pretty comprehensive affair and it seems that not much has happened since then. Or rather, a fair bit has happened but mostly in the form of things that were going to open now actually being open.
What you talkin bout Willis? Well, Ruben’s Bakehouse is now open at 52 Heath Road selling baked-on-the-premises ‘artisan bread’ and even offering deliveries too. In fact it’s an ‘artisan bakery lab’ not just a bread shop. Initial reviews seem good and Ruben is tweeting away on Twitter mentioning things like ‘sourdough’, so it could be worth your while checking it out. He’s been selling bread in places like Kew market and Ham but his Twickenham shop is a new venture. At between about £2.80 and £3.50 for a loaf it’s not cheap but we can confirm that it is darn good bread. Best of luck, dude.
Also now open since our last update is the Blah Blah Blah vegetarian and vegan restaurant also on Heath Road, near the ‘Red Lion’ Tesco Express (more on that company later). The menu is small but has a few interesting things on it. It’s the fifth restaurant on that site in the last few years so let’s hope it sticks around.
And another one from our last update, Ales & Tails bar on York Street is no longer a ‘pop up’ bar, it’s now a fully grown-up bar. It’s had its refurb and is open for business selling a range of ‘craft beers’ and cocktails and has got a good menu going on too. It’s been busy putting itself about a bit on the marketing front and feedback so far has been positive.
Burger That! We see that what was O’Zon on London Road is to become, wait for it, a Burger King! KFC, Wimpy and now Burger King in Twickenham. What chance of the return of McDonalds to the town some point? Don’t rule it out. In fact the Burger King’s franchise owners are seeking a late opening licence for food, though not booze. (see the comments section below).
These images seem to sum up the last couple of weeks on the High Street. It’s true that there are a few new, interesting things happening out there but signs like this are becoming depressingly common.
Staggerin, Twickenham – closed
Bathrooms4All, Twickenham – closed
* September / October High Street Update – openings, closings & refurbings
* The great twickerati shopping index – looking at the state (and sheer volume) of retail in the town