WHISPERING SMITH: The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker...

Kamsons Pharmacy used to be Gamleys toy shop
Kamsons Pharmacy used to be Gamleys toy shop

Carl Lee, a man with close ties to Littlehampton, last week posed the question on Flashback Wick Littlehampton area’s Facebook page: Name a business that has closed from your younger years?

I do not know if he was surprised by the response but I certainly was – at last count more than 300 people had posted a reply.

Inevitably there was much duplication and questions asked rather than answers given but, on the whole, it jogged a lot of memories and painted a rather sad, bleak picture of a small town’s shopping centre largely decimated by out-of-town supermarkets and the internet.

One of those very recently closed being a favourite of mine was Booker’s the shoe repair shop in Arcade Road.

Familiar shops such as Woolworths were much lamented, as was the loss of the three cinemas – an Odeon, Regent and Palladium – along with a depressing list of public houses many in which I knew quite well.

The Albion, The Marine, The Globe, The Britannia, The Gratwick and The Terminus pub where my dad, a train guard, spent a lot of his off-duty time, to name just a few.

The cafes have also vanished, the Clifton, Dora’s and Station Café were the first establishments train visitors saw are now bland blocks of flats and a building site where The Locomotive once stood.

Long gone are butchers Dewhurst’s, Joyce and Caffyn’s and the Oxley fish shop – happily now replaced along the river by Riverside Fish.

Shoe shops three, Collector’s Corner and The Arcade’s Gamleys toy shop with its colourful frontage all sadly missed.

Now we have estate agents, charity shops, bargain shops, large chemists, vape shops and a plethora of hairdressers. Something somewhere has gone horribly wrong and the variety of outlets sadly diminished.

There have been a few on the plus side and I will offer them up next week.