THE Nantwich shop of Holland and Barrett
got that sinking feeling on Friday, September 10 - much to the
consternation of shop staff and people in nearby commercial
The shop is said to have
sunk by a foot initially, followed by a further foot shortly
afterwards. In case that conjures up visions of premises in
not-far-away Northwich - another
town - where buildings did, literally, drop by several feet because
of salt workings giving way, I should say that following a quick
look at the building a few days later I am sure the shop is still
the same at ground level. I think any change of levels is in the
first storey, which is either part of the shop or one of the flats
over town centre commercial premises.
Blue acro poles - quite a
few for what must be a mammoth task - can be seen in one of the
upper windows (above).
Apparently cracks appeared
in the walls of the building - again, not visible on the exterior -
and structural engineers deemed it in danger of imminent collapse
(according to The Nantwich Chronicle of September 15).
But the shop looks a little
like a land version of the Marie Celeste - the ghost ship found
drifting at sea with no-one on board - with the shop windows looking
just as they would on a normal day, and all the items sold by
Holland and Barrett on display as if it were just
get out of the area.
Including those in the on-street dining area at Nantwich Book Shop
where, according to proprietor Steve Lawson, customers left saying
they were "not
paying for the meal now".
Why? It wasn't the shop's fault that the eating experience had been
curtailed. The meal had been produced to order. Some people . . .!
Andrew Lamberton says: "I'm
not surprised that the shop has suffered subsidence.
I know that the building that is now
Christian's kitchen shop, a little away from Holland and
Barrett, was built on shifting sand. Also, I know that WHSmith's
shop was built partly or wholly over the Church graveyard.
"As to the history of
the Holland and Barrett building, I've no idea how old it is. I
can trace its occupiers back to 1834. From at least 1977 to 1939
and before it was Bowens, drapers and outfitters. Other
occupiers were: 1834 to 1841, Richard Hall, ironmonger; 1851 to
1871, John Platt, draper; 1876, John Walley, draper; 1892,
Alfred Browning, hosier; 1914, Lawton Bros., drapers."
IN a footnote to its report, The
Nantwich Chronicle, said: "The store is partly on the site which
once housed the old Nantwich courthouse, which collapsed twice -
in 1737 and 1759."
closed for the day.
On a normal day, that
is, apart from three large posters in which Holland and Barrett
apologise for the temporary closure "as re-fit works take place".
Passers-by are reassured that "We are working hard to open as soon
as possible" - although a space at the bottom of the poster, for a
date when this might be, has been left blank. However, Holland and
Barrett are reported in The Chronicle as saying contractors are
"busy on the case."
But it must be a little
disconcerting for the Nantwich Food and Drink Festival organisers
who have been promising great things in Nantwich town centre on the
weekend of September 24 to 26 - just a fortnight after the drama
unfolded. Now a large area - virtually to the other side of High
Street - stands behind fencing in front of the shop. (See the
picture page on the festival) for
what happened at the weekend.
Holland and Barrett didn't have a ready-printed poster that fitted
the situation in Nantwich. But let's hope that the "re-fit"
poster is more accurate than the other notice on the site fencing
(right). If demolition really were necessary for public safety the
town would lose a prominent building from its history.
in on-line versions of local
that people in
town centre at the time were given five minutes to