Waitrose or Weetabix

Waitrose Gloucester Road Feb 1960 2403u | John Lewis Partnership archives
Waitrose Gloucester Road Feb 1960 2403u
John Lewis Partnership archives

On a recent talk to a WI group in Tempsford, Bedfordshire, I met a lady who had some great memories of working for Waitrose at Gloucester Road.

Eileen Bettles (nee Lawrence) vividly remembers the day she applied for a job as a trainee pay clerk in the early 1960s.  She was only young and had been sent for an interview with Stuart Grant, the Accountant, at what was then Waitrose Head Office in Gloucester Road. 

For some reason she had been told over the phone that the job was with Weetabix  – not Waitrose at all! – and she arrived early and made her way along the road looking for the offices.  She walked up and down the street with no sign of anything relating to Weetabix and with only five minutes to spare she went to a phone box, rang the number she had been given and finally realised the mistake.  She was put through to Mr Grant who asked her where she was.  She explained and the kindly Accountant told her to turn around and look up.  There was Mr Grant waving at her through his upstairs window. 

The interview went well despite her embarrassment.  Mr Grant said it was the funniest thing that had happened for a while and gave Eileen the job.  It was a fortuitous appointment as Eileen, who was known by her colleagues as Elaine, did very well and went on to become the Deputy Pay Master for Waitrose.  She oversaw the move from Gloucester Road to Bracknell in 1972, working in the Chief Accountant’s Department for Meredith Williams.

However, the travelling was very difficult.  In those days there was no M25 so it took a long time for her to get to and from work and after changing her mind three times Eileen finally left the Partnership but still has very fond memories of her time with Waitrose.

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