Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
In the early 19th century hereabout were masons’ yards, where limestone from the Leckhampton quarries was worked. The site remained vacant until Albert Stone, owner of the Bon Marche drapery store in Bristol, purchased this building in 1880 for £1,175 and the terrace became known as Bon Marche Place. The name was understood to roughly translate as "good value" or “good deal”. The drapery business was sold in about 1882 to Ralph and Jessie Negus.
In 1886 Ralph Negus advertised a "Bazaar and Fancy Fair" at his shop and in 1890 obtained permission from the council to hang a large lamp outside to attract customers. At Christmas 1906 the Bon Marche sold aprons, gloves, hosiery, post card albums, watches, clocks, dolls and toys. By 1909 they had a counter where everything could be bought for one penny.
Ralph's and Jessie's younger son, Ralph Albert Negus, a 2nd Lieutenant in the Gloucestershire Regiment, was killed in action on 18th April 1916. The advertising became more muted and the shop closed sometime after 1921, without fanfare.
In 1925 Reed and Patterson took over the premises, renaming it the Grafton Garage. They were the authorised distributors for Daimler motor cars, with saloon models priced at £700 (the average weekly wage was about £5). In 1927 the shop became a branch of Cheltenham and Gloucester Car Mart Ltd, the largest car dealers in Gloucestershire and in 1933 the Suffolk Garage acquired the property. This company began in about 1920 in Suffolk Parade and by 1938 they were agents for Austin, Standard, Morris, Hillman and Lagonda.
Later in 1938 the business was taken over by Gloucestershire Motors, who during the difficult years of the Second World War, sold mostly used cars and bought vehicles for government service. After the war they became the Citroen county distributors, continuing to trade at 54 Suffolk Road until at least the late 1960s.
Walk to the corner of Suffolk Parade.
This point of interest is part of the tour: A Walk on the South Side - from Cheltenham to The Suffolks