High Street Update (Updated)

It’s been a long time since our last Twickenham high street update. Has much really happened in the last 3 months? You bet your bottom dollar it has. And we’ve even added a couple of updates right at the end.

Heath Road has been a veritable hive of activity with openings (hooray) and closings (boo) reflecting the ever changing face of High Street UK.  Probably the biggest story is the closure of Albert’s Music Shop after 62 years of supporting the musical folk of south west London.  It’s a shame to see a longstanding family business disappear and the end of Albert’s will leave a big gap on the high street. These are tough times for specialist retailers and the internet’s gain is Twickenham’s loss.

Albert's Music Shop

Albert’s Music Shop

Shall we talk about 39 Heath Road again? Yes, let’s! It’s been home to restaurants with more names than Lord Voldemort but was most recently known as Istanbul Ocakbasi.  That has been shut for a while but now building work is taking place to give it a re-fit ready for its next incarnation. We hear it’s going to be an Italian, possibly a Sicilian.  Whatever it is, we wish the new business at that particular location the very, very, VERY best of luck.

And it’s not just Italians that are moving in. The now closed Standard Tandoori at 68 Heath Road will become Chuba Rasa, a Malaysian cafe. Malaysian could be something a bit different for that part of town although the ‘off centre’  location perhaps isn’t necessarily the best.

Coming soon... Chuba Rasa

Coming soon… Chuba Rasa

And sticking with the far eastern theme, what used to be Cafe Coffee Day on York Street is now Ben Thanh Vietnamese cafe.  With Pho Saigon (also Vietnamese) and Miss Siam (Thai) just up the road it’s entering a competitive marketplace but on the plus side, that section of York Street  has a strong foodie theme going on so it could do well.

Ben Thanh, York Street

Ben Thanh, York Street

Our culinary tour continues… We bring you news of the impending arrival of not one but two American themed restaurants. First up is Chicago Rib Shack who we hear might be moving into the old Ales & Tails premises on York Street.  It’s a British chain serving burgers, ribs and the like and it has big expansion plans. Today Clapham, Leeds and Southampton; tomorrow Twickenham and the world! You’d better believe it, buddy.

Meanwhile, Blue’s Smokehouse have plans to open in lil’ ol’ Twickers. Currently based in Bracknell, Berkshire (as opposed to Bracknell, Kentucky* ) it’s another American themed affair specialising in BBQ ribs, burgers and other American dishes. We hear that these guys could be moving into what is currently the Twickenham Tavern pub on London Road.  Both the Chicago Rib Shack and Blue’s Smokehouse look to be covering largely the same territory and what’s more, it will also mean competition for the American themed Mac’s Diner on Cross Deep which recently celebrated its first birthday.  So, it looks as if we could have three American themed eateries in town before you can say, “Gimme the pulled pork slider with maple slaw and BBQ pastrami fries on the side”.  Interestingly Chicago Rib Shack’s Clapham branch does offer breakfasts and we’ve always reckoned that American brekkies could do well in the State of Twickenham.

Worth a mention is the big ‘for sale’ sign over Marc Jason’s Shoeworld on Heath Road.  Does this spell troubled times for the purveyor of cheap footwear to the Twickenham community? We’ll keep you posted on that one.

You’ll have already seen our separate piece mentioning the change in ownership of the London Road bar which has rendered Twickenham Theatre homeless after its very first production.   It’s a real shame, especially given the rave reviews for its Sweeney Todd which played to appreciative audiences in the pub’s upstairs space – we  hope the theatre gets somewhere sorted soon.  Meanwhile, Twickenham waits with bated breath to see how the next bar fares in that particular location. The Rugby Tavern, The Garryowen, Cody’s Bar, The London Road have all come and gone over recent years but the nondescript building stuck in the corner of Regal House remains. At the moment the latest tenant is The Pub aka The Smokeshack although this very much has the look of a pop-up bar rather than a permanent fixture.

Something for the gentlemen? Heath Road barbers Cut Unit (the place that must give dyslexia sufferers a bit of a shock) has extended into the tiny next door premises and is now selling a small range of clothes and shoes. An interesting ‘upselling’ idea that might do well with regular clientele.

And for the ladies? True Beauty Salon on King Street Parade, Cross Deep which we mentioned back in July is now open for business.  It’s in the place that used to be occupied by that other thing, you know, something about pianos wasn’t it?

In the same parade, what was the King’s Dry Cleaners on Cross Deep is now ‘under new management’ as The Press Gang. And just across the other side of the junction, we hear that Reels ‘amusements’ has now spun its last set of cherries. With so many other ways available to fritter away money including from the comfort of your own home, times must be tough for traditional ‘arcade’ type businesses.

And to end with some more positive news… on Staines Road, just past Twickenham Green there’s a new shop, Glorious, selling gifts, knick knacks and greetings cards along similar lines to Mojo in Church Street and it also sells handmade cushions, bunting and even restored furniture. Worth checking out. And even the ‘Star Wars shop’ has got a new and improved window display.  The nearby Lovers Lights Gallery based at 64 The Green is opening a pop-up shop and gallery in Church Street in the former home of Mercado. It will give arty, crafty types an opportunity to see and buy glassware, lamps, bags and jewellery right in the centre of Twickenham.


That’s all for now.

The pub at 65 Richmond Road which has been through many guises over the years including The Club House and also being closed a lot of the time, has now re-opened as The Mulberry Tree. According to its website, there was a pub with that name on Richmond Road dating back as far as 1855. The aim is to create a craft beery, foodie kind of pub and the work is being undertaken in stages.

One of the long vacant premises on Heath Road has now opened selling Jo Downs Handmade Glass. The shop sells a range of glassware including mirrors, vases, frames and coasters. Based in Cornwall, Jo Downs has four galleries there but has recently added Ripley, near Woking, and now Twickenham to that list. It’s near the former Alberts Music Shop.

Jo Downs Glass, Heath Road

Jo Downs Glass, Heath Road

Expect serious consternation from some (and possibly joy from others) at the plans to open a Lidl in East Twickenham. It’s not new news – a plan for a Lidl and a Travelodge on the site was rejected in May 2013 – but things are moving forward again and neighbour consultation letters have been sent out by the company. The development is at Ryde House, 381-393 Richmond Road and will also feature new flats. Lidl will be running a public consultation about their plans on Friday 14th November. It will take place at the Oak Room at the Crossway Centre next to St Stephen’s Church, Richmond Road. They are also setting up a website but its not live yet so clicking http://www.richmondroad.lidl.co.uk won’t achieve much.

And back on York Street, longstanding resident Pizza Express has re-opened after a brief refurb.

Good luck to all new businesses! OK, so we’ve missed a few… but we won’t know what they are until you tell us. Get your self out there for a mooch around town. 

* Bracknell, Kentucky? There is no such place. Yet.


Filed under Food & Drink, High Street Updates

54 responses to “High Street Update (Updated)

  1. Mr Squirrel

    There is a planning application for a Benson for Beds store where Bathrooms4all was.

  2. Ray

    Just seen that a new ‘Glass by Jo Downs’ shop is opening next to poor old departed ‘Alberts Music’ shop. She is a long way from St Ives where her 1st shop originated. Good luck and lets hope it remains open.

  3. michelangelo

    Seen at the former Reels shop in King St: an application from Silverplay for an “Adult Gaming” licence. Does this mean “Adult Games” will be played there? I thought the pole dancing place (sorry, Gentlemen’s club) across the street had been closed down due to public hostility.

    • Sally

      God forbid.
      However, worth finding out what extras they are going for-I imagine the site already has a gaming license.Rileys over the road were awarded one easily -but most councils are tightening up a bit on gaming licenses when they have a choice.

    • Kingfisher

      Oh dear – I was hoping for something better to arrive at that site…

    • Rufus McDufus

      I think an adult gaming licence covers what they do already – i.e gambling/slot machines.

    • Sally

      Yes, could just be the new owners wanting to contine the licence or could be them wanting to extend what they are allowed to do. Not great either way if you were hoping something more appealing would move in. The LA has so far not stood up to the Gaming industry very well, and tend to let the licenses go ahead providing the trustworthy applicants tell them it will all be well run and patronised by well behaved punters etc.

  4. Ananke

    Central Twickenham has around two kilometres of predominantly retail space stretching over London Road, York Street, Church Street, King Street, Cross Deep, Heath Road and the beginning of Staines Road.
    At a quick guess that’s probably nearly twice as much as central Teddington or Richmond.
    Is that the problem? That there’s just too much of it to be economically sustainable these days?

  5. Robyn

    When will we get a fun & great mexican restaurant to enjoy eating at in the area?!

  6. Steve P

    The bar jutted on the side of Regal House should call itself Brent’s and feature beige carpets, desks instead of tables, belching water coolers and an owner who is not so much a manager as a chilled out entertainer – only a massive royalties payment to Mr Gervais stands in the way of this dream.

  7. The new larger pavements also now mean that there is less room for cyclists – now with two lanes of traffic in the middle of Twickenham, there is no space for a cyclist. It is especially bad next to M&S where there is no room to pass a bus at the bus stop. It’s also very tight after the lights. Does the pavement really need to be so wide? As a cyclist I feel very unsafe now riding through town compared to before the works.

  8. Sally

    I wish to goodness there were some popular stores . A Dyas would be a hit. Somewhere to buy children’s clothes-look at how many new families there are here. The streetworks look grotty and unfinished. (My family has a bet about how long it will take them to finish the pavement in front of the pool hall-or perhaps that’s what they’d call finished?
    I have written before that the promised trees didn’t go in and the ones taken out weren’t replaced. There is nowhere to park and nowhere to sit.I am not that crazy about Ribs.
    This is insane. there are great schools here, reasonably well off people, a huge number of young families and all we have are some unfinished streets and lots of we’ll-do-well-when-there’s-rugby stores.
    Hampton is looking better and better. So is Whitton. Do our representatives not have eyes?

  9. Ben Makins

    Does anyone know what the impact of the “improvement” work has been on the takings of Twik’s businesses? A “bellweather” store might be Waitrose, though they also presumably had a downturn with the works on the car-park. Certainly it’s kept me out of the town centre, with more trips to Teddington and Hampton. Whitton is a revelation too, with its free High Street parking and car parks and seems to be thriving with new cafes and stores. I know I should keep out of my car, but I miss the parking on York St and the loss of spaces on Heath Road and beside Cousins fruit and veg and old Belmonts for a quick “stop and shop”. Access to Holly Road car park isn’t clearly indicated. So I get on my bike, but can I find anything to secure it too? A woeful lack of bike racks and none of the “improvements” make my cycling experience feel any safer. It all seems rushed through and ill-considered, in order to secure the funding. There’ll be an outcry when the first child gets knocked down near the very exposed pedestrian “island” on the Halifax / HSBC junction. Let’s call for a review within a short time of the completion of the project.

    • Ananke

      It’s a shame these improvements weren’t thought out properly, as there has clearly been an impact on retailers in Twickenham. Re-siting the bus stops was extremely poor judgement. As previously said, many people now don’t come into Twickenham because of this decision, and go elsewhere to shop in other more attractive local areas like Teddington, and now in Whitton High Street.
      Sadly, it’s also the first time in over 20 years I have experienced a number of people moving out of the town as they feel it’s becoming an unfashionable area and run-down and tired in some parts.
      To name some of the gripes, these are the so-called road and bus ‘improvements’, the unwanted and unfinished building work going on everywhere, the pending high-rise construction at the railway station, lack of primary schooling, the RFU holding more games and events disrupting traffic and local people’s lives, the amount of rubbish left everywhere, the amount of poor quality shops, frequent anti-social behaviour at pubs and in the streets, and the threat of more noise and pollution from Heathrow airport.
      Twickenham must be one of the few nice places in London where real improvements pass it by, whereas other areas once unfashionable and undesirable are becoming vibrant and booming.
      It’s also been noticed how many retail businesses in Richmond come and go so quickly these days too.

    • Jonathan

      Everyone was whinging like hell in Whitton whilst they were carrying out the repaving. The contractors seamed to take forever – but it was worth it in the end, as it took down the rundown feel to the place.

      Twickenham could also do with a some discounter stores like Lidl or Aldi as they are extremely popular as they can be up to half price of the normal supermarkets. All the supermarkets are pricy in Twickenham and that’s part of reason people avoid the town. Tescos and M&S food mark up their prices higher there main store in Richmond, whilst Waitrose is expensive full stop. Out of necessity – many locals can’t afford Twickenham prices.

    • Rufus McDufus

      I’m frequently amazed how popular the Tesco Local is on Heath Road though.

    • Starting from Twickenham Green:
      then Tesco next to Chapmans
      Further down Morrisons followed by Iceland.
      Then finally Waitrose, which gives Twickenham a bit of class that everyone is asking for.
      We did have a Budgens, which didn’t last
      Doubt another supermarket is what us twickers needs.
      And Twickenham does have an Aldi, though most people would say it is located in Isleworth.
      Oh and don’t forget Tesco Extra near Stadium and in the opposite direction another big Sainsbury

    • Debster

      aldi? where is aldi in isleworth?

    • @upend

      dont forget the oddest supermarket, the ASDA over the A316 (again prob Isleworth)

    • @upend

      ah, Renebach – did you mean Adsa, not Aldi? (penny drops)

    • Rufus McDufus

      The problem with all these ‘local’ supermarket stores in Twickenham is they’re all flippin’ expensive, even Morrisons. An Aldi may at least be reasonably priced, though knowing our luck they’d hike their prices up too.

    • Ananke

      You forgot Marks & Spencer!

    • illiad1

      your prayers have been answered…LIDL in Twickenham!
      BUT like the ‘richmond ice rink’ near central twickenham, the ‘twickenham LIDL’ will be nearer richmond than central twickenham!!! {roll eyes} :O
      About 10 yards from richmond bridge, actually {swoon}….

      Details in ‘the occupier’ letter..
      Food store and flats at 383-391 richmond road, TW1 2EF
      but I cannot see it on http://www2.richmond.gov.uk/PlanData2/
      I hope you have better luck searching than me..
      other sites it gives..

    • Lidl actually in Twickenham would be better, how about on the old Scruby site opposite Tesco?

    • Rufus McDufus

      Is that the office site which has the decent-sized car park at the rear? It used to be handy for parking to walk into Richmond. If there’s good car parking it’ll be useful but if there’s none it won’t be a lot of use to anyone as Lidl’s primary appeal doesn’t tend to be the walk-in customer.

      Seeing how everyone seems to rave about Aldi (and I only really know Lidl) perhaps we should hope for an Aldi along Heath Road instead? I seem to recall there were murmurings of one at some point, possibly in the ground floor of the new-ish development where the old DHSS building was (next to MKG3000), though that seems to have been partially filled already. It’d be nice to have a bit of price competition as the ‘local’ supermarket-owned ones are fairly exhorbitant.

    • illiad1

      Debster, Rufus: where is your reply button???
      a search for ‘391 Richmond Road’ shows an application was refused for the site last year.. nothing except rumour for scrubys…:(

      Yep, its the old offices between Ryde house and Tops pizza.. LIDL is trying to see if people want it, promising lots of parking spaces, 34 for retail use, plus ‘additional’ for the 24 flats…

    • Was that the one that incorporated a Travelodge hotel on the site?
      Registered April 2012, refused May 2013


    • illiad1

      wow I knew the council was slow, but a year to get resolution ??
      looks like the residents in the area dont want more disruption (maybe a few MPs live round there??) … wake me up in December 2015 I guess…

    • michelangelo

      illiad – in reply to your 5 Nov post, if you look at the details of the planning process in this case, you will see how complex it was. I am very glad that the Planning Officers did such a thorough job

    • illiad1

      well since you must be in that line of work, good luck.. I couldn’t do it..

    • michelangelo

      what a strange reply by iliad on nov 6. I am nothing at all to do with “that line of work”, and never have been. However, I think I can detect a thorough job when I see one, but am always open to correction

    • Mr Squirrel

      I don’t think the area is that unfashionable, as you need more than £500k+ to get a decent house anywhere close to the town centre, which shows that the demand for houses in the area is quite high.

      I agree about the comments about rubbish and anti social behaviour, especially the stairs going to the station from station road are a disgrace and always smell like piss.

      Lot of the shops seem very small with high rents and rates. So even if a big retailer wanted to move in there isn’t really any decent available space. Some of the rents asked for are ridiculous and at central London levels. Business rates are also higher than in central London. Most of the buildings on Heath Road seem poorly maintained and have a run down feel and have too much clutter (satellite dishes, estate agents signs). There aren’t many trees if any.

      It is really a shame since the area is generally very affluent, and generally a nice place to live with good transport links which are a lot better than Whitton/Teddington/Hampton. You can easily be in central London in 25min or in the countryside in the same amount of time.

      Not sure what the solution would be. Maybe convert Heath Road into a conservation area and force landlords to maintain the shops / buildings properly? I can’t really see any reason why we don’t and can’t have a high street at least as nice as Teddington’s.

    • Sally

      I was recently at a shop in Teddington-the sort of nice gift shop/kitchen ware place which used to do well in Church Street. The owner said that she had opened in Teddington as she could not afford the rates in Twickenham. It would have cost her two thirds more again to open here.I didn’t believe it but it was confirmed by another shop owner.
      Heath Rd is ugly not just because of the grotty feel to the shops but because its filthy, no trees, nowhere to sit.
      What makes the Station/stairs/streets horrible is that they are seldom if ever cleaned.The windows at Twickenham station are choked with dirt, and the stairs are flithy.I was there yesterday and I couldn’t believe it. One regular jetwasher, one regular window cleaner, one painter who actually strips off the layers and does a good job would transform it.

    • Debster

      Business rates are £450 a square metre in Twickenham.

    • Ananke

      Well it’s never going to be another Hoxton or Shoreditch, or even Battersea.
      Interesting, that even after five years Twickenham is still in the top 20 areas of the UK if you want to acquire a buy-to-let property.
      Not sure what that says about the area. Are some properties under-valued or is it just attracting investors? Or is it a combination of both?

    • David

      Really? I wouldn’t have thought it would be a BTL hotspot – do you have a link?

      This article (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/buy-to-let/10859896/The-towns-that-offer-the-best-buy-to-let-returns.html) puts Richmond borough as one of the lowest-yielding parts of the UK – not surprising as houses are very expensive and there isn’t huge rental demand.

      I don’t agree that the area is losing appeal. It’s easy to complain about the renovation works, but it is, generally, change for the better. And round our way (roads around the Green) there are lots of families moving in and money being invested in doing up houses.

    • michelangelo

      To the three comments above: whatever anyone does, there is bound to be dissent. Some complain for good reasons, others by reflex action.
      The Council cannot decide what shop goes where and when; that is up to individual freeholders, who decide to whom to lease their property, and the retailers who feel they could make a profit from an outlet there.
      I have lived in this neck of the woods for 40 years, and this is the first time a council has done anything to improve the milieu of Twickenham in such a way that the sorts of shop mentioned above might be tempted to settle here. I say bravo, well done, and carry on .

  10. Amanda wilcox

    twickenham traders are really suffering very badly at the moment. With all the changes made to the High Street layout not so many people are coming to Twickenham. Moving the bus stops was NOT a sensible idea and it is now difficult for the elderly and those with physical disabilities to get to the High Street. People just can’t be bothered and are not coming. Businesses (old and new) will continue to suffer unless the local council look closely at what is happening to our town, something needs to change. Speak to local traders and you will discover the fears so many of them have at the moment!

  11. Mr Squirrel

    So it looks like we’re getting 3 new american style places, with the Blue’s smokehouse, Chicago Rib Shack and Smokeshack besides Mac’s Diner. Not sure if there will be demand to sustain 3 such businesses, some variety might have been good!

  12. John

    The Rugby Tavern, – which has gone through many changes of name, you may not know that the original Rugby Tavern stood on the opposite side of the road at almost the brow of the railway bridge. It had an entrance from the railway bridge level and another below from Station Approach. It was demolished when the new road bridge was built over the railway. The present Rugby Tavern or whatever its name is today , stands where the foyer and auditorium of the Regal cinema was.

  13. John

    Pity that Albert’s Music shop is to close, I still have sheet music bought from that shop in the 1950’s, and my most recent purchase from there was last month, so I have used the shop from time to time for most of my life.
    Just a reflection on changing times, even a large music shop like Chappel’s of Bond Street, (which moved to Wardour Street) has now gone and is called Yamaha Music. I suppose youngsters these days are happy to “play” music on their iPads and MP3 players, instead of playing the tune themselves on a musical instrument.

  14. Rufus McDufus

    I do hope Cut Unit’s spin-off shop has its own name. I suggest “Something For The Weekend”.

    • Ananke

      Or maybe ‘Suit you Sir!’
      Hair salons selling clothes seem to be springing up all over. Most are themed and some are peddling cool retro-look styles. Maybe it’s not a new idea as I remember years ago posh hair salons in London selling up-market clothes and accessories, and some still do. -Especially useful if you have regular clients with money to spend.
      Sounds like Cut Unit might have a good idea there which could also be expanded to include online sales. -Of the clothes not the haircuts, obviously!
      Get that ‘Twickenham Look’ maybe?
      And what would that be I wonder?