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Closed high street shops in Kent: Blockbuster, Woolworths, BHS and MFI

By KentOnline reporter

The internet is a magical place, and online shopping is a godsend for those of us who can't be bothered to move from the sofa.

However, one place that certainly hasn't enjoyed the advent of e-commerce is the British high street.

It's not unusual to drive along your local high street and realise that all your old favourites have shut down and also that you don't recognise many of the new shops that have replaced them.

So, to honour the shopping casualties of the past few decades, we're revisiting the shops that dominated kids' lives in the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties but are sadly no more. Pick 'n' mix from Woolies, anyone?


EIGHTIES KIDS WENT TO...

Woolworth's in Ashford High Street, just six days before it shut up shop in 2008

Woolworth's in Ashford High Street, just six days before it shut up shop in 2008

 Woolworths

Few shops are seared into the memory as clearly as Woolworths. For many of us, childhood trips to Woolies were the pinnacle of any weekend. Where else could you eat so many sweets from the pick 'n' mix that you felt sick, whilst also picking up some cool new toys or bits of stationery?

Not forgetting the Ladybird clothing range and of course, the singles cassette chart.

It was last orders at MFI on London Road, Maidstone in January 2009

It was last orders at MFI on London Road, Maidstone in January 2009

MFI

Unfortunately, MFI doesn't have as many positive connotations as Woolworths.

MFI was the shop parents dragged their kids to, kicking and screaming, whenever a new sofa or bed was needed. Hardly the most thrilling Saturday outing, although you could run around the huge store playing hide and seek.

Nineties kids will also undoubtedly remember being promised a trip to McDonald's in exchange for good behaviour in MFI.

It was the end of an era when BHS in Tunbridge Wells closed up in August 2016

It was the end of an era when BHS in Tunbridge Wells closed up in August 2016

BHS

BHS wasn't exactly at its peak during the Eighties, because it was pretty prominent right until the bitter end.

But, from the Eighties right through to the Noughties, BHS was your one-stop shop for basically everything, from clothes and bedding to lighting and a cup of tea with your gran.

Unfortunately, a nostalgic look back at BHS tends to be marred by its demise, when it finally went into administration last year with huge debts and layoffs.

Dixons stores in the likes of Chatham, Canterbury, Maidstone and Orpington are long gone

Dixons stores in the likes of Chatham, Canterbury, Maidstone and Orpington are long gone

Dixons

Nowadays, you'll only see a Dixons branch if you're in the airport, but remember when it was a staple on every high street?

Dixons was everyone's go-to store for anything electrical, and it was a sad day in 2006 when it decided to take its business online.

However, most of the physical shops did remain, rebranded as part of the Currys chain.

NINETIES KIDS WENT TO...

Past Times in County Square, Ashford stopped trading back in 2012

Past Times in County Square, Ashford stopped trading back in 2012

Past Times

Few shops were as full of stuff as Past Times. It was a veritable treasure trove for things you totally didn't want or need, but bought anyway.

It was the perfect place to buy presents for anyone, whether it was your mum, mate or grandpa.

Chances are, anything you bought went straight to the charity shop, but we were still sad when Past Times entered administration in 2012.

The Blockbuster branch in Margate closed in 2013

The Blockbuster branch in Margate closed in 2013

 Blockbuster

The demise of video stores like Blockbuster was inevitable, thanks to the likes of Netflix and TV on demand.

However, this doesn't make us any less misty-eyed to realise they no longer take pride of place on our UK high streets.

Who among us hasn't spent a good few hours on a Saturday afternoon, picking the perfect movies to watch at a sleepover that night? Now that's an experience you can't get on the internet.

One thing we don't miss though is all the fines we got for inevitably returning the videos late. Oh, and having to rewind the tapes!

Allders in Chatham High Street closed in 2005

Allders in Chatham High Street closed in 2005

 Allders

Back in the day, department store Allders competed with the likes of Debenhams.

It holds a particularly dear place in the hearts of anyone from Croydon - when Allders expanded there in the 1970s it became the third biggest department store in the UK after Harrods and Selfridges.

Allders was particularly successful in the Nineties, after buying several department stores from the Owen Owen group.

 

NOUGHTIES KIDS WENT TO...

Phones 4U in Week Street, Maidstone. The company went into administration in 2014

Phones 4U in Week Street, Maidstone. The company went into administration in 2014

Phones 4u

Phones 4u arguably had one of the most successful advertising campaigns of recent years. Sure, it might sound like we're exaggerating just a bit, but how much time did you spend trying to make the "Phones 4 U" motions with your hands?

These ads were popular in the Noughties, but sadly Phones 4u is now no more, entering administration in 2014.

JJB in St George's Square, Canterbury closed its doors for the final time in 2012

JJB in St George's Square, Canterbury closed its doors for the final time in 2012

 

JJB Sports

If you wanted a new pair of kicks or the latest football shirt, where would you go during the Noughties? JJB Sports, of course.

It had everything you could want for your sporting needs - even if you weren't sporty at all, and just wanted a cool pair of trackies to wear.

We're not sure where kids go to hang out now, since JJB Sports went into administration in 2012.

The Borders bookshop chain fell into administration just before Christmas in 2009

The Borders bookshop chain fell into administration just before Christmas in 2009

 Borders

With VHS stores slowly dying out, bookstores were next.

This was largely down to the double-pronged attack of internet giants delivering cheap books straight to your door, and the invention of the Kindle.

For many angsty teenagers who sought solace in the Borders cafe, this was a sad phenomenon indeed.

Many of us are still holding a candle for Borders by refusing to relinquish our hard copies - however, we have had to find new places to buy them.

The Comet store at Ashford Retail Park. The last Comet closed down in 2012

The Comet store at Ashford Retail Park. The last Comet closed down in 2012

 Comet

If you were still living at home during the Noughties, you undoubtedly had a weekend trip to Comet with your parents. There you were made to look through aisles and aisles of electricals.

It wasn't particularly thrilling stuff, although Comet's slogan of "We live electricals" has somehow managed to stick with us, even if the shop itself is no more.

Which stores do you remember fondly that aren't around any more? Join the debate below.

Join the debate...
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