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Mothercare, Thomas Cook and Marks and Spencer: Things we said goodbye to in Kent in 2019

We welcomed politicians, bigger and better shopping centres and a brewery in Ashford this year. But we've also said goodbye to several High Street favourites and parts of Kent's skyline. We take a look at some of the biggest losses in 2019.

Marks and Spencer

Staff outside Marks and Spencer in Ashford on the final day. Picture: Paul Amos
Staff outside Marks and Spencer in Ashford on the final day. Picture: Paul Amos

In a blow to Ashford town centre, M&S announced in January the retail giant would be leaving.

The store also closed in Deal, with the final trading day in April after 82 years in the town.

At the time, an M&S spokesperson said: “Shopping habits are changing and reshaping our store estate to reflect this means making some difficult decisions.

"In Deal we hope to see lots of customers continuing to shop online and at our Dover, Westwood Cross and Canterbury stores.”

Thomas Cook

Thomas Cookin Ashford, now under the Hays Travel
Thomas Cookin Ashford, now under the Hays Travel

Holidaymakers and employees were all devastated at the news the travel company would close.

Thomas Cook collapsed in September after 178 years of trading, leaving more than 150,000 Brits stranded abroad and thousands more unable to go on their holidays.

But a few weeks later, Hays travel announced they were buying out the company and saving 550 stores across the country, including 13 in Kent. Slowly, the stores have been reopening with many of the staff keeping their jobs.

Mothercare

Shoppers were left disappointed at Mothercare in Canterbury
Shoppers were left disappointed at Mothercare in Canterbury

In November, Mothercare caused quite the commotion in Canterbury when it closed it's doors for the final time.

Announcing its 'massive' closing down sales in the morning, shoppers arrived to find they were rather meagre.

Mum-of-two Shelley Andrews had driven about 15 miles to reach the store with her mum and baby.

She said: "I saw it on Facebook this morning that there was going to be a sale, so we've driven all the way from the other side of Sellindge to find that there's absolutely nothing.

"I'm really quite annoyed that I've wasted my time. If they're going to do something, they should really do it."

MooMoo

Gillingham's MooMoo is closing down
Gillingham's MooMoo is closing down

Joanna's, Catch 22, The Zone - the nightclub in Canterbury Street, Gillingham has appeared in many forms over the years.

But just a fortnight ago the latest version, MooMoo, held its final club night.

It opened in 2016, replacing Bliss, and was popular among students from the University of Kent's Medway campus.

History would suggest it won't be long before it returns in another form.

Victoria's Cabaret Club

Victoria's Cabaret Club closing down, A20 Harrietsham. Owner Spencer Holley. Picture: Matthew Walker
Victoria's Cabaret Club closing down, A20 Harrietsham. Owner Spencer Holley. Picture: Matthew Walker

New houses are set to replace the Harrietsham cabaret club that was known for its wild, controversial and debauched nights.

Victoria's welcomed some very famous faces including Jim Davidson and Lenny Henry, but after a difficult few months decided to close it's doors forever.

Owner Spencer Holley said: "Our running costs are astronomical and we just haven't been able to keep up.

"We don't feel like we can charge our customers any more to make up for it - everyone's struggling at the moment. It's very sad."

Tilbury and Littlebrook Power Stations

The final demolition of Tilbury Power Station took place this morning. Picture: @jasonphoto (7778336)
The final demolition of Tilbury Power Station took place this morning. Picture: @jasonphoto (7778336)

The view along the Thames will never be the same again.

A loud bang was heard across north Kent in March when Tilbury was finally brought down.

Demolition began in January 2016 and at the peak of the works more than 100 workers were on the site and dedicated over 570,000 hours to the project.

And in December, the final of six explosions bought down Littlebrook Power Station.

This was in spite of one man vowing to chain himself to save it.

Before the controlled demolition, urban explorers made it inside and filmed their trip, finding explosives already there.

Pubs

The Wheatsheaf pub in Loose Road, Maidstone. Picture: Chris Davey
The Wheatsheaf pub in Loose Road, Maidstone. Picture: Chris Davey

According to CAMRA - the Campaign for Real Ale - 14 pubs close their doors in the country every week.

One that particularly upset punters, with 78,000 of you reading about it, was the announcement the landlords of theWheatsheaf in Maidstone had pulled their final pint.

Rossa and Renee Kenny retired after 35 years behind the bar in October.

The boozer had stood there for 170 years but will make way for a new roundabout at the junction between Loose Road and Sutton Road (the A229 and A274).

Blantyre House

Blantyre House Prison, Picture: Martin Apps
Blantyre House Prison, Picture: Martin Apps

In 2015, a Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "Blantyre House prison is not being closed.

"Prisoners will be moved out temporarily, some refurbishment work will take place and it is expected to be back in use later this year."

However, this year, the MoJ confirmed the site in Goudhurst would be decommissioned.

It was blighted with problems before it closed, with 10 inmates absconding between 2007 and its closure.

BMI Fawkham

Fawkham Manor Hospital
Fawkham Manor Hospital

As pressure on the NHS continues to rise due to an increased population and not enough funding, several GP surgeries closed this year.

But the private sector has also struggled with BMI closing Fawkham in Longfield and Somerfield in Maidstone.

The news was particularly shocking to the 62 members of staff who said they felt "let down" that bosses didn't try to do more to save it.

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