My memories of North Watford

Interior Waitrose North Watford 1960s | John Lewis Partnership Archive
Interior Waitrose North Watford 1960s
John Lewis Partnership Archive

During my training as a Section Manager for Waitrose in the early 1980s I was asked to go and help out at Waitrose North Watford.  The branch, which had formerly been an old cinema, was experiencing problems with their shopping trolleys disappearing from outside the branch, only to turn up on the local housing estate, on top of bus shelters and in people’s front gardens.  Therefore, it had been decided to replace the trolleys with those which you had to put a coin into to release the lock.

However, to help the customers with this new idea I was asked to stand outside the shop and explain what to do.  The customers took a while, but local children soon got the idea and offered to take the trolleys back for customers and pocket the pound coins!

The shop is now a block of flats but there is a new small format Waitrose just along the road.  Not much need for trolleys there.

Comments about this page

  • I remember Dave & Mick.
    I joined as an O’Level trainee.
    The manager was Mr Garfinkle. My first month was on the “Grocery Marking ” bench. I was with two ladies who knew all the gossip in the branch. They priced everything up with hand price lables. ” we can do it quicker than those new fangled pricing guns”.
    The warehouse men where scary especially a guy called Phil.
    The meat was all cut and packaged in the branch. You never ventured into the “white coat area”
    The bones from the meat room were collected once a week. The smell from the collection van in summer was so strong you needed a gas mask.
    Some of the pranks played on the “new boy” would now border on criminality.
    The maintenance men must have got fed up being asked for “a long weight or tartan paint”

    By Philip Keating (03/06/2020)
  • Where to start? I joined in 1980 when I was 17 with another guy called Dave Gunn. My wage packet was £37, I thought I was rich!

    We usually had a beer on a Friday night in the nearby Hertfordshire Arms, now a MacDonalds sadly. Paul Lau another colleague had his 18th in the bar upstairs. We had a really good social club and I recall two trips abroad: Holland (supposedly to see the tulips) and Brussels. 

    We had two lifts to get down to the shop floor, however, if you overloaded your trolley, the lift would sink too low and you had to get help to get the trolley out without toppling over. I was there for the 50th anniversary dinner at a restaurant in Beaconsfield…the manager, Mr Garfinkel won one of the first three prizes in the raffle, which was a portable telly – Fix! Ah happy days and daze!

    By mick murray (04/03/2016)
  • Remember shopping here every week with my parents in the 70’s and early 80’s. Happy memories. Also remember a school trip that took us behind the scenes, vividly remember the cinema screen being still in place in the warehouse area!

    By Peter Blundell (30/04/2015)
  • I remember as a child walking up Bushey Mill Lane to the North Watford Waitrose always a happy memory. I remember very well the piped instrumental music that played over the PA, everytime I hear that style of music from the 60s now, I always think of Waitrose. I’d love to know the music that they played and who the artists was, any chance anyone knows?Also love to see an old photo of the exterior of the shop.

    By Dave Gaskin (23/11/2012)
  • In the early 1980’s in my role as Manager Layouts I would meet with Eric Norwood, Manager Field Projects once year in the branch to discuss future space requirements. We chose Watford as it was away from Bracknell and had plenty of office space upstairs. Together we would devise layout space standards for the next 12 months based direction from the Director of Buying as where he would like to see the assortments develop or retract, branch feedback, current sales trends and shelf capacity to meet customer demand. Some of those space standards still stand scrutiny today.

    By Terry Hammond (31/10/2012)

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