End of an era as Dereham store shuts

An 'institution' shop which has been open in Dereham for 175 years shut its doors for the final time yesterday.

Newsagent, stationer and book seller Chambers has become part of the town's fabric in the landmark building under the town sign.

But owner Co-Op has decided to close the shop - which has 12 staff - as it does not fit in with its business model.

There were emotional scenes on the final day as many loyal customers thanked staff for their service over the years.

Co-Op has put the building up for sale but it is still unclear how much for and who may be interested.

The company has been helping find new jobs for the staff.

They have been told not to speak to the EDP about the situation but they have been 'overwhelmed' by the support shown by the local community, including a 3,100-name petition which was collected in an effort to try to save the store.

Most Read

Yesterday Colin Chambers - whose family owned the business for 50 years until 1993 - said he was very sad by the closure.

'It is a big loss for Dereham. Chambers of Dereham, or WF Chambers and Son as it was originally known, afforded my father William and I nigh on half a century of much happiness - and toil! - before we sold it as a going concern.

'Over the years it has provided hundreds of people employment and fulfilled the retail needs of many thousands. But above all it provided a focal point for peoples to pause, have a browse, and more often than not have a bit of a mardle.'

Mr Chambers added: 'Judging by the very moving response to the news of the 'institution's closure it appears that my family and I won't be the only ones who will miss seeing the Chambers' name beneath the town. Many thanks to those who have fought so hard to keep the shop going, it's been heart-warming to see such endeavour.'

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman recently received the petition from campaigners and said: 'The increasing trend of national chains dominating our high streets and the loss of historic shops undermines our sense of local identity. I will take this petition as an opportunity to feed into the district council's consultation on the importance of historic shops in our high street.'

A spokesperson for The Co-operative Group said: 'We are aware of the concerns of some local people, but, regrettably, the decision to close the store was taken due to its poor trading performance and the fact that, as a newsagents, the store does not fit with our existing businesses. The closure is not, in any way, a reflection on the commitment and hard work of the store team.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter