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Trading places: Rickmansworth

PUBLISHED: 08:09 30 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:29 20 February 2013

Adriana Toderica, Kamil Keles, Lucia Zupcall, Salt & Pepper, High Street

Adriana Toderica, Kamil Keles, Lucia Zupcall, Salt & Pepper, High Street

From high street chains to independent traders, Rickmansworth offers shoppers a little bit of everything as Damion Roberts discovers...


A LEAFY small town situated on the Grand Union Canal just inside the south-western border of Hertfordshire, Rickmansworth offers shoppers something a little different when it comes to competing with the likes of its larger neighbours such as Watford.


The High Street, which leaves the Park Road roundabout to the east and runs through the centre of the town to Wensum Way to the west, has a diverse range of shops that offer everything from the latest fashions and technologies to smaller, hidden gems.


And while the High Street is the towns main thoroughfare, branching off it are several other roads, including Station Road and Church Street, where further businesses vie for customers.


From national outlets such as WH Smith, Marks & Spencer Simply Food, Kodak Express and Clinton Cards, the High Street is also home to other smaller chains and independent stores like wine merchants FL Dickins, general store Serve-U-Rite, pet shop Paws & Claws, clothes shop The Block and The Shoe Box.


Councillor David Sansom, whose council ward is Rickmansworth, believes that having both independent shops in the town centre as well as free parking goes some way to explaining how Rickmansworth is able to compete with its larger neighbours.


We have free parking, and thats something were committed to, Cllr Sansom said. You have to compete with Watford and to bring people into the town and having free parking for shoppers will always help.


Weve got an old High Street which has grown over many hundreds of years. Things are obviously updated shop fronts are updated but it has an ambience, its own identity. And you cant build that. Its haphazard and that is what gives it its character compared to other towns and shopping centres. Its a very vibrant town centre with shops you wont find anywhere else and shopkeepers who have been there for years and years.


Like most thriving town centres, there are not just shops. There are services including hairdressers (such as Louvere and Fratelli), travel agents (Rickmansworth Travel Ltd and Thomas Cook), and estate agents (Taylors, Savills, Gibbs Gillespie, Sewell & Gardner).


There are also plenty of eateries on the High Street from Tandooris (Maharaja), to delis (Brown Sugar) and snack bars (The Upper Crust). And to satisfy those parched throats there is The Pennsylvanian (No.115-117) named after William Penn, the former High Street resident who founded the US state of Pennsylvania, and The Fox & Hounds among other town centre pubs.


The Fox & Hounds is also home, once a month, to the individual, tasty, interesting Little Fox Market which has stalls run by local traders promoting crafts, jewellery, cupcakes and sustainable seafood. The next market is the Christmas market which will be held on Saturday, December 17 from 10am to 3pm.


There has also recently been approved a number of car charging points for electric vehicles which will be dotted at several locations around the town, including the Three Rivers District Councils own offices just off the High Street. If you head out of town, then Uxbridge Road, and its tributaries, offers further reasons why Rickmansworth is a place to shop.


Coffee & Creme Fashion is a boutique which specialises in occasion wear for all sizes (8-26), while on the same stretch of Uxbridge Road are cafes, a florist (Essential Flowers), a DIY shop (Decor Scene), and much more including Walkers Furnishers.


Further down Uxbridge Road is Country House, a family business which was established in 1980 to deal in antique country pine. The owners can supply entire antique bedroom suites, individual pieces of furniture such as bespoke, dressers, bookcases and wardrobes, or smaller items such as planters, buckets and umbrella stands. There is also, in Mill End, County Pursuits, which has 15 years of experience in the gun trade as well as all field sports equipment.


Asked if the town and its independent traders have coped well during the recent economic turmoil, Mr Sansom said he believes it has and that Rickmansworth continues to offer a competitive shopping experience.


Things are tough, of course, but the town seems to be weathering the storm, Mr Sansom said. Some shops come and go of course, but the town is fairly resilient. Weve got one major pub which has shut, but weve not had any empty shops for a while and business is continuing and people are continuing to come to the town to do their shopping.


People wont travel tens of miles, perhaps, to go to the town but the reasons why people have come to Rickmansworth in the past the variety of shops, the local feel about the town do continue to draw people in.



PHOTOGRAPHY: Liz Giroud


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