31 Dec 3: Use it or Lose it!
‘You don’t know what you’ve got til its gone’ – Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
How often do we realise after they are gone how much someone or something meant to us?
Gillingham’s rich past is made up of a long and colourful history much of which has sustained through time, war and growth. A small independent chemist shop set up in the Square was for many years the longest established chemist in the country, that was until we stopped using it and it closed.
Use it or lose it is a saying flung out when things are in jeopardy of being lost forever. The sentiment remains as relevant today in our lives both at home and in the wider community as it always has. Just before Christmas, something happened to our Gillingham High Street which triggered a storm of social media discussion, support and nostalgia.
One quiet night down at the bottom of Gillingham, in our Square, the threatened drizzle began to get heavier and people rushed through oblivious on their way to somewhere. Someone stopped, the lights were not on, there was no spice filling the air, there was no footfall climbing up or down the steps. They noticed the Tandoori was boarded up.
Turning to the Gillingham Dorset page on Facebook the tumult of speculation cascaded through the evening. The suggestions all unfounded and each more elaborate as the discussion swelled and became ever more improbably fuelled a night’s entertainment for those with imaginative brains.
In tandem was the realisation of what could be happening. Another torrential stream of outpouring filled the social media pages as patrons of the restaurant, reminisced, remembered and recounted their many memories of the place.
If this closes – I will cry for sure 😢😢
I’ve been going here for over 20 yrs n never had a bad meal
I was just thinking of the decline of the town and it looks like we have lost another good thing.
Really sad about this. Always had great food and service and laugh with the waiters. Gillingham can’t afford to lose this
As it happened it was a temporary hitch caused by an argument between the freeholders, Following a few days of intense negotiations, Gillingham Tandoori re-opened its doors and those who have eaten there since have been delighted with both service and food.
The High Street is populated with long-standing family businesses that have supplied the residents of Gillingham through the ages. The sadness that filled social media pages at the loss of our Indian could be applied to many more if we do not support them.
Since the invention of photography it seems looking at old photographs of the High Street, there has there been a hardware department supplying our parents and even grandparents. Today Crockers is the name across the boarding. Supplier of everything to do with the home, kitchen, garden, decorating, even down to key cutting and battery supplies. Not only can they supply items there is a wealth of DIY knowledge behind the counter that have often helped out with a simple question of advice.
Cullingford Carpets may not have been in their current building for many years, but they are an integral part of local history. They offer a carpet fitting service and home furnishings to complement your chosen flooring. Now filling the old Woods building they welcome you in to come and browse through their many samples as they have done from their Wincanton showroom for many years.
Chester Jefferies have been in existence since 1936 with production in Slough, Wiltshire and Dorset. They moved their head office and the main factory to the heart of Gillingham in 1963 where it continues to grow and supply gloves of the highest quality around the world. Still run by members of the Pearce family descended from one of the two founders, the factory shop is open all year round and you can always buy online.
Gillingham Bed and Suite Centre are another family-run institution in Gillingham’s High Street. Supplying furniture to suit all tastes and styles. They welcome people in to the shop and are happy to deliver and help set up the furniture in your own home. They also have a side business providing blinds, shutters, and awnings for every shape or style of window. Tucked beside the Gillingham Bridge made famous by Turner in his painting the Bed and Suite Centre is open daily.
Allum & Sidaway began in 1942 when Dennis Allum would sit in his garden shed mending clocks and watches for friends and family then the public. Now with 5 High Street independent jewellery shops to their name and still run by the Allum family, the shop brings a welcome glitter and sparkle to Gillingham Town Centre.
Gillingham Tandoori have been saved on this occasion and by the support and love shown to them they will continue to be successful and an iconic part of the towns make up. Our loyalty to our own local industry is important. There is such a variety of industry and shops in the immediacy of the town centre that there are few reasons to venture further afield to shop. It is the local community that keep these businesses going but without our support, they will disappear with their long history just like the Pharmacy at the bottom of town into the memories and nostalgia of social media pages.
We have history, we have community and we have most things that we would ever need within the confines of the local town. Let us not allow ‘most people to start caring when it’s a bit too late’. Support our High Street shops now.
Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry wish everyone a very happy successful New Year. Our next monthly ‘happy hour’ meeting will be held at the Wine Bar in Queen Street from 6 pm on Thursday 10 January sponsored by Cullingford Carpets. Drop in and say hello.
If you wish to join the Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, please download a membership form here.