Twickenham High Street Update – January 2016

It’s been a while. It’s been a long, long while. A twickerati High Street Update is something of a rarity these days but we’ve pulled out all the stops to brighten up your January with tales from Twickertown. Unfortunately they’re not all good…

Laverstoke, closing in Twickenham

Laverstoke, closing in Twickenham

Posh butchers, Laverstoke Park Farm is to close its doors this month after more than four years in the town. The purveyor of high quality organic meat, complete with prices to match, had been part of what seemed like a bit of a foodie boom in Twickenham when considered alongside the likes of Sandys and Rubens Bakehouse but it’s decided to cash in its steak. Geddit? There’s a notice in the store window saying that despite their best efforts it just wasn’t working out financially. We’re not privy to the precise details but, what was telling, was the contrast between the queue outside Sandys on Christmas Eve and the queue, or rather lack of one, outside Laverstoke. Perhaps it just didn’t manage to build up the base of loyal regular customers necessary to make it a viable proposition in the town. Or perhaps the prices were just too high for Twickenham? This isn’t la-di-da Teddington after all!

On the opposite corner of Wharf Lane, the Italian Design menswear shop has gone. It didn’t last long. From the off it always looked like place that was going to struggle to survive among the cafes, charity shops and sprinkling of chain stores on King Street. It’s now been replaced by Season Cookshop which sells all sorts of kitcheny type things, the type that you might actually want, and a rather fetching Thermos mug at twickerati HQ is testament to that. It could do well.

Just when you’d almost given up waiting for more flooring options in Twickenham, two come along at once. Huzzah! The former carpet shop on York Street is now… drumroll… a new carpet and flooring shop. It’s Woven and Woods the ‘flooring boutique’ no less. Yes, we said boutique!  ‘Tread softly for you tread on my dream flooring’ could be the vibe they’re going for.  On King Street we now also  have Lifetime, for all your shutters and flooring requirements to provide fresh competition for Carpetright (King St), Completely Floored (Church Street) and Premier Floors (Heath Road).

Right then, let’s talk cafes! Yay! Rosie Chai is now open in Church Street selling a wide range of speciality teas as well as your regular tea and coffee options. It’s where Sweetie Pies used to be.  Why they don’t describe themselves as ’boutique suppliers of hot beverage solutions’ is completely beyond us. Maybe they’ll come round to it eventually. We were sorry to see that Luluz on London Road has closed. Initially impressing the locals with huge meringues,  the cafe lasted just a few years. Not the best location perhaps? Cafe Fresh on Heath Road also closed a last year and has been replaced by the new Perking Lot. Ivan at Fresh worked really hard to try to keep his cafe going and so we wish the new owners the best of luck with their new venture there.

UPDATE: And we’ve just seen that Sapori Siciliani on Heath Road has now closed. That’s the place that has had a multitude of previous incarnations and which can now add another name to the list entitled ‘previously traded here’.

Staying on the food front, what was the Indian restaurant and takeaway on Heath Road called Royal Spice (and prior to that Amins) is now turning into Little Mumbai. It’s not actually open yet so we’ll all just have to wait and see how the next iteration of Indian cuisine fares in that particular establishment. And if it’s Chinese you want, the restaurant that was among other things Rubiks and Pasta di Piazza on Richmond Road is now Chung’s. It’s competition for the Makan Makan takeaway opposite and, of course, for Twickenham’s long standing Chinese restaurant Jun Ming on Heath Road. We also hear that the proprietors of Kamares on Heath Road are looking to sell their business to new owners as a going concern.

Angels & Heroes the toy shop in Church Street is also closing down. The owner is focusing on a new business.

It’s been so long since our last update that it’s quite possible some places have opened and closed again in that time. We imagine that if anyone had opened an ice cream parlour or yogurt shop that would be the case but here are a few reminders of places that we do remember opening back in the summer.  And they’re still here. Warren Wines opened on Church Street, tucked behind Pinchos. They have been running a few wine tasting sessions so might be worth checking out. The Press Room cafe opened on the corner of Holly Road and London Road in what was previously Cook. And the Church Street Food Hall in, where else, Church Street was just getting up and running back in July.  In the world of high finance, Morrison’s sold their M-Local chain, including the Twickenham branch (where Blockbuster used to be once upon a time) to a group calling itself My Local. Apart from that and some branding tweaks the shop looks pretty much the same… green.

And finally… if it’s vacant ground floor retail space you want then you’ll be pleased to hear that the redevelopment of The Old Anchor pub on Richmond Road into flats is well under way.  Elsewhere, the three properties at 2-6 Whitton Road opposite Heatham House which used to house, among others, Chanterelle and Carol’s Sandwich Bar are being redeveloped by Senex Capital. And on Heath Road there’s a big development putting up new flats where the office building used to be opposite Tesco Express.  Experience suggests the flats will be occupied long before the ground floor retail gets filled. Harsh? You decide.

That’s it. Away with you!

31 Comments

Filed under High Street Updates, Local Issues & News

31 responses to “Twickenham High Street Update – January 2016

  1. Anonymous

    I tried to be a loyal customer of Laverstoke but found over the last few years the staff became less interested and the stock dwindled. Xmas year before last was a farce, where I had to wait an hour for my pre-order to be butchered and prepared and numerous people sent away on Xmas eve with unfulfilled orders that couldn’t be met, can see why many (including me) didn’t want a repeat this year. Their meat was excellent and to be fair not as expensive as some make out as it was quality organic meat, but the lack of care over stock levels and service just became more and more apparent. I’m sad to see it go, but can see why the customers had started to dwindle.

  2. JT

    Don’t think Chung’s is going to last long with their prices. I ordered a delivery with the same items as I normally get from Jun Ming and it was quoted as £36 for four dishes, compared with £23.70 at Jun Ming.

  3. A few months ago I remember these posters promoting the best of Twickenham’s independent shops (Sandy’s, Rubbens, Luluz, Laverstoke), showing the smiling face of their owners…
    Since then Luluz closed down and now it’s Laverstoke…, two of the Twickenham best quality and most distinctive independent shops are gone, and I’m in mourning mode… I was really proud of these two shops, never missing an opportunity to promote them to potential visitors.

    I buy local whenever I can, I love chatting with owners who care about what they sell, and, probably too often, I also open my mouth whenever they disappoint me or to make suggestions. Sure many establishments have gone before them and unfortunately will, but why these much loved and iconic shops couldn’t survive, and most importantly what can be done to help these shops in the future? Yes they may have had some pricing and strategy issues but they kept going for around 4 years each.

    I’m not a meat eater so I cannot really comment about Laverstoke, though I could see they were regularly trying to adjust their strategy.
    The Rugby World Cup was a fiasco for local shops, the vast amount of footfall they were led to expect never materialised, it was actually much worse than a “normal” rugby day as most supporters were diverted to fan zones and actively discouraged by road signs to visit Twickenham.

    That was probably the last nail in the coffin for Luluz. She too worked very hard and try to adjust to make it work, and she did survive for 4-5 years. I know the rent increase was a problem, not much to be done on that front. However when Farah opened she had very little competition, since then many cafés opened within 100 yards of her, including several “chains”. I’m probably too idealistic in thinking there should be some kind of quota.

    Yesterday I watched with interest http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06ygl19/the-town-that-took-on-the-taxman and I was in awe of Crickowell, a town full of independent shops (Boots is the only exception) where everyone fights for it, who wants to highlight that local shops are not on a level playing field as corporation hardly pay any profit tax.

    I’m fed up of month after month, seeing more chains and fewer family shops. Could we not fight more, have campaigns to promote our unique shops? Is it what the Twickenham Town Business Association does? What can be done?

    • illiad1

      sorry, (and I am trying to put this as politely as possible..) but I don’t see the connection between a scenic small town in a protected welsh national park has to do with Twickenham??
      If it was Mumbles, it would make more sense, being an average town outside a much larger one, with the usual large corporations, airport, etc…

      It would be much easier we *were* a small town like CrickHowell, miles away from any influence of a politician/lord that likes doing ‘fancy town planning’ and not noticing the bad effects, due to not living there, or even bothering to visit…

  4. illiad1

    Just a late comment about Morrisons (on streetview july 2015)… (forgot some shopping late sunday)
    No sign on google or website, it has been taken over by ‘Nisa’ and called ‘my local’ – stupid name, why not call it properly??

    At least its still open til 11pm everyday, but it depends if it still fails like morrisons did…. :/

    • boanerges

      Iliad has obviously tracked the movements of the “politician/lord” very carefully to suggest he doesn’t visit Twickenham. He also has obviously composed a fiendishly complex algorithm to connect this with the closing of Laverstokes. Let us know how you did it!
      The past few years has seen a complete transformation of the centre of Twickenham, which had previously languished unloved since the 1960s. Credit where credit is due

    • Indeed credit to all those hard working shopkeepers for trying and working so hard, it’s not easy even in Richmond and St Margarets.

  5. Catherine

    PS – thanks for the January update Twickerati! I think you have a lot more readers than you may suspect!

  6. Catherine

    Spirtited Wines is a great shop and I want people to support them more – excellent price range selection and selectin of wines. They need to do more self-promotion though – too quiet, although I see stock moving – no one ever seems to be in there when I go.

  7. Sad to see Laverstoke go but can’t say I’m surprised. I shopped there a few times but it never seemed to have what I needed. I appreciate it’s a farm shop and so is seasonal. On one occasion I was after a rib of beef. They had no beef. They sometimes had bread, sometimes not. Their deli section came and went. And the meat almost always turned out more expensive than you thought it was going to be. I can see the Church St Food Hall inevitably going the same way unless they get a bit more serious about customer service and getting locals on side too.

  8. oh with laverstoke you can get their stuff in Watrose… and online via Abel and Cole. I’m sad it’s closing though it was a great butchers. I’m not keen on the one in whitton as the owner comes off a bit 1963 if you catch my drift

  9. Season Cookshop is good. They also have a website. The staff there are especially pleasant and really helpful. The young man who works there personally delivered a set of pans I had purchased and couldn’t carry in one fell swoop. Not that one should expect such service, but I do feel they go out of the way to help. (no I don’t have shares – just like cooking).
    Hurrah for Sandys too – Ray Sandy would be so proud of Stuart’s work.

  10. Anonymous

    Just to lower the tone whenever I pass the Senex development I wonder whose bright idea it was to base their company name on two leading laxative brands.

  11. Terri M

    I hope Warren Wines does well. We have found some great craft beers and lovely wine from there already.

    • David

      We found this shop by accident (it is tucked away at the far end of Church St) but was very impressed with the beer and wine selection. I hope it does well.

      I hope the influx of hungry journalists at Haymarket helps support a few of the new businesses too.

    • We at Warren Wines thank you for your kind words. We plan to stick around for a while!
      We are now in the process of reviewing our beer range to show a more diverse range that reflects the growing market in craft beers.

  12. Alan Winter

    If the basic management of the fabric of the town centre ignores the fact that the clock which is high up on Barclays Bank and is a fundamental part of the town has been showing 10 minutes to 11 for about 10 years now, doesn’t it tell us that no one really cares!! How disappointing!. Prove me wrong and fix it please! This would never happen in the European town centres in France Belgium or Germany so why here? If we get the small things right everything else becomes better.

    • uncleosborne

      Ah but if they moved the hands a bit and Barclays sold out to a pub chain, they could call it the Rupert Brooke.

  13. Dorothy

    I’m not surprised Luluz has gone. Charing £2.50 for a small bottle of water is daylight robbery.

  14. Dorothy

    Mailboxes has closed down repossessed by a high court sheriff.

  15. Caz

    Hmm. I remember speaking to the butcher in Laverstoke over a year ago. They were struggling because of the roadworks/pavement stuff being done by El Brute ahead of the RWC as they had been told by folk it was too difficult to get in/park etc and they just never got that trade back. Shame.

    • Nick

      It all just seemed a bit amateur. I booked their hog roast for an event and they called two days before to say they could no longer do it. Since then I’ve not been in.

  16. Sarah Newell

    More property going up in Twickenham with no school provision – scandalous.

  17. Katherine

    NB the Old Anchor is going to be not just flats but a Co-Op too (opening mid September).

    • Mumto1plus2

      That’s what I thought too but the landlord in The Mulberry Tree said The Old Anchor was being refitted as a pub again. I guess he’s wrong though as this planning application seems to indicate co-op. Why are these things so hard to find? Why don’t planning applications clearly state – change of use to co-op? http://www2.richmond.gov.uk/plandata2/Planning_CASENO.aspx?strCASENO=15/1607/FUL&DocTypeID=5#docs

    • Anonymous

      I think part of the problem is that the application was fudged – can’t remember exact details but at one point it was made to look like a pub was going in there while the intention was to open it as a co-op all along. Hence the nonsense ‘Bits and Bobs’ junk shop that was there (selling off the pub fittings) to show it had operated as a shop or something like that. Co-op (and the builders) have confirmed it’s going to be a co-op.

  18. Sara Evans, Twick Mums

    I was in Church Street yesterday and noticed that Angels & Heroes is also closing down 😦

    • Sue Porter

      Hi yes it’s true – I run Angels & Heroes & loved my little shop – but I am now running a new business, which needs lot of my time, so I just couldn’t manage both at the same time – it wasn’t viable for me to employ someone full time – so had to make the sad decision to close. A big Thank you to all my loyal customers!! Sue x

    • Sorry to hear that. Now added above. Good luck with the new business.

    • Mumto1plus2

      Really, really sad to hear that the toy shop is closing. It has been a lifeline. Back to online shopping for toys I’m afraid. (sigh)