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Arcades, lost from Chichester

by Pat Saunders

By Pat Saunders, Volunteer at The Novium Museum

Chichester city centre has been home to a number of different shopping arcades over the years. Today however, only two of these survive: The Buttermarket in North Street and The Almshouse Arcade in The Hornet. These arcades house independent traders, often too small to be on the high street, which help to create a diverse and unique shopping experience for Chichester consumers.

The most well-known of Chichester's former shopping arcades, fondly remembered by many local residents was Sadler's Walk, later renamed Little London Walk. The premises were originally owned by Fred Sadler, a corn, seed and feed merchant, who started his working life as a 3-shilling a week apprentice, before going on to build up the large Sadler empire. The arcade was built on the site of a period house, the former offices of the town clerk and coroner, J W Loader-Cooper.

By 1954, the site was used as the first in-town garden centre when it was opened by Percy Thrower. Unfortunately the garden centre failed to show sufficient profit, even after the hot summers of 1975 and 1976, and so the site was split. By 1978 half the site was being converted into an arcade (completed by 1980), whilst the other half still functioned as a garden centre. The company recognised that smaller traders were beginning to find that they could not afford the larger and more expensive units fronting the main shopping streets and saw the potential that an arcade could bring to these smaller traders. By 2010, and with new owners, the name was controversially changed to Little London Walk. It saw the arrival of Manuka Whole Foods which later transferred to the Boardwalk Arcade (October 2013) in Northgate and finally to its current premises in East Street. The last tenant to move out of Little London Walk, after a presence of 33 years in the arcade, was the camera and photography business Whitby. They are now located in a premises in Baffin's Court.
 

As a result of being overshadowed by the Cathedral, a dwindling congregation and the need for major repairs, the church of St Peter-the-Great on West Street fell into disuse in the late 1970s. It was later converted into a shopping arcade with a number of small shops selling goods such as antiques, musical instruments, jewellery and was even the home of the silhouette artist Michael Pierce. In 1997 it was converted into a pub named "The Slurping Toad", and is currently known as "The Duke & Rye".


Built on the site of an old skating rink the Boardwalk arcade, Northgate opened in the 1980s and was home to various modest sized shops. At the centre of the walkway was a bronze sculpture of the seated young woman sculpted by Surrey based artist Sheila Mitchell.. In 2014 the premises changed hands for the final time and the new owners submitted plans to the District Council to demolish the building and re-develop the site. As a result the remaining businesses have now vacated, some closing for good whilst others have found new premises in the city and the site is now ready for re-development.Chichester city centre has been home to a number of different shopping arcades over the years. Today however, only two of these survive: The Buttermarket in North Street and The Almshouse Arcade in The Hornet. These arcades house independent traders, often too small to be on the high street, which help to create a diverse and unique shopping experience for Chichester consumers.

The most well-known of Chichester's former shopping arcades, fondly remembered by many local residents was Sadler's Walk, later renamed Little London Walk. The premises were originally owned by Fred Sadler, a corn, seed and feed merchant, who started his working life as a 3-shilling a week apprentice, before going on to build up the large Sadler empire. The arcade was built on the site of a period house, the former offices of the town clerk and coroner, J W Loader-Cooper.

By 1954, the site was used as the first in-town garden centre when it was opened by Percy Thrower. Unfortunately the garden centre failed to show sufficient profit, even after the hot summers of 1975 and 1976, and so the site was split. By 1978 half the site was being converted into an arcade (completed by 1980), whilst the other half still functioned as a garden centre. The company recognised that smaller traders were beginning to find that they could not afford the larger and more expensive units fronting the main shopping streets and saw the potential that an arcade could bring to these smaller traders. By 2010, and with new owners, the name was controversially changed to Little London Walk. It saw the arrival of Manuka Whole Foods which later transferred to the Boardwalk Arcade (October 2013) in Northgate and finally to its current premises in East Street. The last tenant to move out of Little London Walk, after a presence of 33 years in the arcade, was the camera and photography business Whitby. They are now located in a premises in Baffin's Court.
 

As a result of being overshadowed by the Cathedral, a dwindling congregation and the need for major repairs, the church of St Peter-the-Great on West Street fell into disuse in the late 1970s. It was later converted into a shopping arcade with a number of small shops selling goods such as antiques, musical instruments, jewellery and was even the home of the silhouette artist Michael Pierce. In 1997 it was converted into a pub named "The Slurping Toad", and is currently known as "The Duke & Rye".


Built on the site of an old skating rink the Boardwalk arcade, Northgate opened in the 1980s and was home to various modest sized shops. At the centre of the walkway was a bronze sculpture of the seated young woman sculpted by Surrey based artist Sheila Mitchell.. In 2014 the premises changed hands for the final time and the new owners submitted plans to the District Council to demolish the building and re-develop the site. As a result the remaining businesses have now vacated, some closing for good whilst others have found new premises in the city and the site is now ready for re-development.