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Photographic and Optical Specialists closing down after 60 years

By Alan Smith

One of Maidstone’s longest surviving independent businesses is to close.

Ivan White, who runs Ronald White, Photographic and Optical Specialists, in Pudding Lane, is to call it a day, having reached the age of 67.

The business was started by his father and has been a feature of Pudding Lane since 1954 - although not always in the current building.

Ivan White is retiring
Ivan White is retiring

In fact the firm started at No 27, and has moved twice: to No 26 in 1992 and then to its current location at No 25 since 2001.

Before that, Roland White operated a photographic studio - without the retail sales - in premises in Moncktons Avenue and later in Tonbridge Road.

“It was my father who was the photographer,” said Mr White.

“I’ve always worked in the shop since I started with the firm in 1967.”

He had hoped to sell the business as a going concern, but there have been no takers.

The business will close at the end of May and Mr White is now looking forward to taking some time for himself.

Ivan White is retiring having worked at the shop since 1967
Ivan White is retiring having worked at the shop since 1967

He said: “It’s never been just a nine to five job. There’s always been orders to place in the evening, and paperwork to do.”

The increased bureaucracy facing small firms is something that Mr White will not miss.

“It’s altered drastically over the years,” he said.

“Now everything has to be done online and it seems so complicated. I have to run an online payroll for my one employee - it was so much easier when I could just write him a cheque.”

Mr White has been an ardent champion for small businesses in the county town.

He is a long-standing member of the Federation of Small Businesses and was the chairman of the Maidstone branch for 11 years.

But now he plans to devote more time to travelling the country sight-seeing and to his beloved garden at his home in Allington. He said: “I didn’t want to just carry on until I keel over.”

There is a currently a sale at Roland White’s to clear the stock.

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