Created By: Cheltenham Local History Society
This shop was in the same trade longer than any other in Suffolk Parade. From at least 1838, beginning with Mr John Lapidge, it was a grocery and tea dealership.
By 1860 Mr Charles Malvern was the grocer and in 1887 Mr C.J. Davies, who was also a wine and beer merchant, incorporated the Great Norwood Street Post Office into the shop.
In April 1909, as White’s Stores, the building suffered a serious fire, which was discovered at 2am by a neighbour, who rode to the fire station on his tricycle to raise the alarm. Meanwhile Mr White rushed to the shop from his home in Montpellier Villas to rescue some of his private papers and post office records.
The fire brigade received the alarm at 2.15 am and despatched a first-aid hose cart, a ladder cart and the 'Theobald steamer' fire engine. It took 2 hours to get the fire under control, by which time a large amount of damage estimated at £1,000 had been caused. A quantity of highly inflammable sugar stored in the basement may have added to the conflagration.
Finally in 1932 came a name remembered by many, Allan Whittern, who continued the grocery and had an old fashioned off-licence selling ales, stout, wines & spirits. The shop was traditional with mahogany counters and staff wearing long white aprons. Dry goods were measured out from drawers under the counter, whilst butter and cheese were cut by hand and sold by weight.
Allan Whittern ran the business until his death in 1982 and was succeeded by his son, Alan. Since Whittern's closed in 1991 the shop has been an antiques store and more recently a ladies fashion boutique, with some of the fittings preserved from the grocers shop.
From here you may wish to take a short detour into Great Norwood Street with its boutique shops and welcoming cafes. Then continue along Suffolk Road until you near the traffic lights at the junction with Suffolk Square.
This point of interest is part of the tour: A Walk on the South Side - from Cheltenham to The Suffolks