Leisure => Retail => Department Stores => Topic started by: ChrisExiledFromStrood on February 06, 2010, 18:44:37

Title: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: ChrisExiledFromStrood on February 06, 2010, 18:44:37
Anyone remember this store, or worked there? Started as Bates, and had a sister shop in Maidstone (also began with a B but can't remember the name). Later got taken over by Bentalls of Kingston and eventually closed down. The shop then turned into an Argos I think.
My father worked there in the goods inwards department, and had a few tales to tell - according to him, the TV comedy "Are You Being Served?" was a documentary. And yes, he had one of those brown overall coats.
When they closed down the hairdressing salon, he acquired loads of hairdryers, and subsequently sold them on at a boot fair. I suspect some of the other boot fair stuff we had may have found its way out the back of the shop. I know we had some odd furniture made from recycled shop fittings.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: jaj on February 06, 2010, 21:25:20
Sure do Chris.  I used to go in Bentalls Dept Store in Chatham back in the 1970's.  The site is now occupied by Argos.

Anyone remember this store ...
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: MedwayDweller on February 07, 2010, 14:04:32
Am trying to think when it closed, it was still there in the mid-80's. I did a YTS at Allders of Chatham in 1983-4, and they considered Bentalls their arch rivals. That was when the "Bentalls end" of the high street was considered high class. My how things change!!!
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: afsrochester on February 28, 2010, 20:47:59
Hi Numanfan. :)

Do you have any idea when Watts Place was demolished? I'm guessing 1960's maybe earlier.

Cheers :)

AFS Rochester
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: numanfan on February 28, 2010, 21:07:18
Do you have any idea when Watts Place was demolished? I'm guessing 1960's maybe earlier.

Not sure I'm afraid. It was there in the 1955 Kellys but gone in the 1967 copy.

I'll try to find out.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: numanfan on February 28, 2010, 21:31:16
Ref. Watts Place:

I've found a picture of the old Bates department store further along the High Street. The write-up says that they were moving in 1964 to their new premises, where Watts Place once stood.

Narrows it down a bit.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: sharmuk on March 01, 2010, 06:10:53
Rather than the single shop it is now the Argos building used to be two, Bates was on the left next to J Sainsbury. Bentalls took the Bates side but I can't remember if they took over the Sainsbury part too and merged it into one or if that was done later by Argos.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: peterchall on March 01, 2010, 17:23:56
Go to this link and search for 'Chatham High Street', then to Image 50 (Page 9). It shows the 'Argos' site in 1984, after joint ownership by Bates and Sainsbury's but then owned by Bentall's. Note the 'For Sale' sign. Who bought it?
http://www.medway.gov.uk/medwayimages/

Regarding the time before the Bates/ Sainsbury's occupation:
I've found a picture of the old Bates department store further along the High Street. The write-up says that they were moving in 1964 to their new premises, where Watts Place once stood.
Who was there before 1964? Did Green Shield Stamps share it with Sainsbury's or Bate's? When was the present 'Argos' building constructed and what was there before that?
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Lyn L on March 01, 2010, 19:24:07
If you go to City Ark and look at Couchman Images, from Boundary Lane to Railway St, Chatham, image 89 (of 93) shows where I think the Argos store is today. I'm pretty sure it's the right place, the pic is c 1916-1920.

I remember when Bates had the shop there, my neighbours d-in-law was a buyer there, and also Sainsbury's , they had a side entrance onto Globe Lane too, doorway is still there.  Also seem to remember the Green Shield stamp shop being on New Road and it was a lot easier when the big stamp came, they didn't taste wonderful just can't remember if I got anything with the stamps now ?
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: sharmuk on March 01, 2010, 19:39:44
This National Archives article gives some history of Bates and says the store moved to Watts place in September 1963: http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/a2a/records.aspx?cat=051-u2132&cid=0#0
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: peterchall on March 01, 2010, 20:43:14
Thanks everyone. Lyn L, is this the photo you mean? Taken about 1916.
(http://i622.photobucket.com/albums/tt309/petec-photo/DE402_15_56U1-1.jpg)
The Globe pub, on corner of Globe Lane, is just visible at far right. Watts Place is by the white shop, and Holborn Lane is by the building with the rounded corner behind the farthest cart.

Therefore the site of the present Argos building is more or less the bit covered by the parked carts and fits Numanfans map. I imagine it stayed like that until demolition for the Bates/Sainsbury's building. Re the side entrance to Sainsbury's from Globe Lane; I think there was a special counter in there where we collected the Xmas chickens. I still seem to remember Green Shield being in there at some stage, otherwise why did thinking about that building trigger that memory? However, I seem to be outnumbered and even Mrs P is not sure. So please Seafordpete & Lyn L, put me out of my misery and tell me where the High Street and New Road shops were :)
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Lyn L on March 01, 2010, 21:11:48
That's the pic peterchall, I remember there was a furriers on that corner of Holborn Lane when Bates was there, only ever managed to buy a suede mini skirt in there though  :). was the height of fashion in the late 60s, I've tried dredging the memory for the Green Shield shop on New Rd, and think it was where the Reproduction furniture shop ( now empty) was , I've asked
hubby and he thinks the same, but it had been where Argos is at one time.

What a good name for the photographers studio, Sticky Backs, still got old albums with them in.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: oldsunset on September 07, 2010, 03:27:02
we had to go there to buy my school uniform, you could only get fort pitt uniform from bates in the 70's...cost my dad 3 months wages !! nearly £200...to think you can get uniform for £10 in asda thesedays...we had to have bowler hats, macs, hockey kit etc...poor dad he saved up so hard
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Rex on October 06, 2010, 20:34:48
i worked there in the 70s as washerup -er  in the restaurant each saturday. When the restaurant was run by Reggie the manager from the central R&B club.
Also used to do the dinner dances at the Corn Exchange, Rochester ...  come to think of it, anyone on here called Janice!!
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: patmore on November 25, 2010, 12:02:25
I remember my Father referring to an area of Chatham High St. as 'Broad Pavement' when I was very young, was this as I suspect another name for Watts Place?
                     James
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: peterchall on November 25, 2010, 12:09:34
Hi Patmore, yes it was.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: anneb on August 01, 2011, 16:37:46
I remember having to go there for my Chatham Grammar School uniform. We couldn't get it anywhere else and had to have all the equipment and badges from there too. Bowler hats, blazers, blouses, summer dresses all from there and regulation skirts. Much easier nowadays with supermarkets selling uniforms.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: mad4amanda on March 18, 2013, 23:29:28
My memory is that it was 50-50 Bate's and Sainsbury's. My mum moved to Sainsbury's there from Fine Fare in about 1972 and I remember the Christmas parties upstairs for the children.
When Sainsbury's moved to the Pentagon store it stood empty for a while, then Green Shield stamps had it as well as the shop on New Road where the repo furniture store is now. Bate's had been sold to Bentall's, GS Stamps became Argos who then took over the whole store.

Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: smiffy on March 19, 2013, 00:43:13
I think Sainsbury's was probably the first store in Chatham to have automatic doors. I remember standing there when I was a youngster and watching with amusement the looks of surprise on peoples faces when they extended their hand to open the doors, only for them to open by themselves. Seemed like magic at the time, I believe they were activated by a pressure mat.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Rochester-bred on March 19, 2013, 08:48:21
I still have a picture of my son whom I entered in the Bates baby contest and no, he did not win  :)
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Merry on March 28, 2013, 21:44:09
I remember queuing for ages to get Martin Shaw's autograph when he came to Bentall's in the 1980s.  It was at the height of his fame as Doyle in "The Professionals" and the shop was absolutely packed with fans.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Walderslade_W on April 26, 2013, 08:12:45
Searching again I found the pic at page 20 image 202.

I'm pretty sure Argos moved into the building after Bentalls folded. It's interesting to note that Argos was originally founded by Richard Tompkins who had previously established Green Shield Stamps.  Coming up with the idea that people could purchase goods from his "Green Shield Gift House" with cash rather than stamps.

Perhaps the building was always owned by Green Shield stamps/Argos and sublet to Bentalls?

Go to this link and search for 'Chatham High Street', then to Image 50 (Page 9). It shows the 'Argos' site in 1984, after joint ownership by Bates and Sainsbury's but then owned by Bentall's. Note the 'For Sale' sign. Who bought it?
http://www.medway.gov.uk/medwayimages/

Who was there before 1964? Did Green Shield Stamps share it with Sainsbury's or Bate's? When was the present 'Argos' building constructed and what was there before that?
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Walderslade_W on April 27, 2013, 03:29:34
There is also some information on another thread regarding the Green Shields shop here:

http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=9395.0 (http://www.kenthistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=9395.0)

notably from Peter Chall:

Back to that elusive Green Shield Stamp shop and its relation to Argos.
I think I've established the history of the present Argos building:
1.   It was first proposed in 1960 for Bates and Sainsbury's - Reply#31
2.   Occupied by Bates and Sainsbury's in 1963 ? Reply#30
3.   Taken over by Bentall's at an unknown date.
4.   Up for sale by Bentall's in 1984 - Reply#27
5.   Presumably then bought by Argos.

I said that Green Shield shop was in the 'Argos site' 'at some time' (Reply#20)
Seafordpete says it was in High Street, then on New Road (Reply#23)
Lyn L says it was on New Road (Reply#29), but it had been where Argos is 'at some time' (Reply#35)
I spoke to eldest daughter on phone about it and as soon as I mentioned Green Shield she said, "It used to be where Argos is".
Numanfan has established that it was in High Street/Gundulph Road in 1967, and on New Road in 1973 (Reply#47).

So it couldn't have shared the premises with Argos, as I suggested in Reply#36. Yet 3 people remember it being in that premises. So I now think that it must have shared Bates or Sainsbury's premises at some time between 1963 and 1967. Has anyone else got any recollections?
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: sandi_01 on April 27, 2013, 14:37:06
Not sure if this is going to help or confuse matters? I recall in August 1974 going to the Green Shield Stamp shop with my mother, which was in the building where Argos now stands. The reason I remember is, I was starting secondary school in the September and needed equipment. It was definitely a Green Shield Stamp shop. :)
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Walderslade_W on April 28, 2013, 02:08:18
Well you are about the fourth person to say this, so it must have been a Green Shield Stamp shop at one time.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Leofwine on April 28, 2013, 12:20:15
I seem to remember it as the Green Shield Stamp shop when I was a kid, probably early 70s.  I also remember it being Bentalls, but at the time being confused why some people still called it Bates.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: smiffy on May 17, 2013, 16:13:08
This thread seems to include Holborn Lane so I thought I'd post this here. There's not much there now but in the 19th century it appears to have had a bit of a reputation:

Mary Hogan, a woman with an infant in her arms, was charged with assaulting Mary Field, at Chatham. Complainant said she resided in Holborn Lane, Chatham (which delectable-locality, by the way, furnishes on an average one assault per week for the consideration of the magistrates at this court) and was quietly sitting at her door on Saturday night, waiting for her son to come home, when she heard defendant calling her several filthy expressions, and immediately afterwards received several blows from her. She was at a perfect loss to understand why she was assaulted, as she had done nothing provocative of such treatment. Defendant was taken away by some neighbours. The magistrates ordered her to pay a fine of 2s. 6d. together with 14s. 6d. costs, and in default 14 daysí imprisonment.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: tulafalula on August 18, 2013, 20:23:35
I remember Bates department store from the 60's as it was the school outfitters for Christchurch. I remember shopping in Sainsbury's  in the mid 70's The green shield stamp shop I remember at that time was on New Road.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: ann on August 19, 2013, 09:04:10
Yes, I can remember when the Green Shield`s place was on New Road.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Optimus Prime on January 21, 2014, 08:40:00
Just to add my tuppence, (although I don't remember back past Bentalls).

It used to be Bentalls, then Argos bought/leased half of the building (the left hand side as you look from High Street). On the upper floor (stock room), there was a blockwork wall crudely splitting the building in half, with a single wooden door into the unused half, which was just a huge empty space. I remember being told (rightly or wrongly) that it was still Bentalls in there and we shouldn't go in there. (as if...)

Then Argos expanded into the other half too.

(I worked there as a Saturday boy, would have been about 1987), was definitely only half the building then.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: royston2000 on February 17, 2015, 21:31:14
Reading about Bates Department Store is a real blast from the past for me. My ex Mother-in-Law, Alice (Lal) Gibson, worked in their restaurant in the 60s. She is still alive but now lives near Reading and is now 103.

I can remember on one occasion when the Red Army Ensemble were performing at the Central Hall, they had a meal in Bates Restaurant. The funny thing was they ate all the bread that was available and the staff had to send out for more. They then went and did their energetic dances.

Lal went on to be made a Dame for her work in St. John Ambulance.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: Troyboy on March 08, 2015, 20:18:53
Thank you for this link. Only just come across it, whilst browsing. A great memory jogger. About 1959/60 I purchased my own fashionable red and black "Andy Cap" from a shop in "2 Post Alley" (Watts Place). I thought was quite the Lad at the time and my mates were well impressed.
Title: Re: Watts Place/ Argos/Bates/Bentalls Dept Store Chatham
Post by: smiler on April 24, 2015, 10:43:23
Andy Cap, had one myself late 50s all the rage then. Still wear a cap now in the rain