Tears and hugs as 57 jobs are lost as the shutters come down for the last time on Co-operative Society store, Chatteris

Co-op Chatteris closing. Tears from a member of staff. Picture: Steve Williams.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Tears from a member of staff. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Saturday marked the end of an era when the shutters came down on one of the town’s major stores for the last time.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Staff past and present. Picture: Steve Williams.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Staff past and present. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

There were tears and hugs from staff as the Co-Op on Bridge Street closed for the last time with a loss of 57 jobs.

The premises will now under-go a refit before re-opening as an Aldi - although when that is likely to happen is not yet known.

However, Aldi are advertising for a store manager offering a salary of up to £45,000 for a 48 hour week and to manage a team of 25 plus staff.

An ad for the position said: “This role would suit a hands on leader who thrives on working in a fast paced environment, if that sounds like you then please apply with your CV and a covering letter.”

Co-op Chatteris closing. Staff with all that was left for sale .Picture: Steve Williams.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Staff with all that was left for sale .Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Some of the Co-Op staff affected by the weekend’s closure were relocated from the March store in Broad Street, which was closed in 2013 and is now occupied by Iceland.

At the time the closure was announced in November a Co-Op spokesman said: “Staff have been informed of the decision, which has been taken with the greatest reluctance and is not, in any way, a reflection on the commitment and hard work of the team.

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“Every effort is being made to redeploy as many as possible or to help them find alternative employment.”

Some of those affected were relocated from the March store in Broad Street, which was closed last year and is now occupied by Iceland.

Co-op Chatteris closing.Manager Graham Arthur closing the shutters for the last time Picture: Steve

Co-op Chatteris closing.Manager Graham Arthur closing the shutters for the last time Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

Chatteris Mayor James Carney in a letter to the Cambs Times said the closure marked the end of an era as research showed there had been a Co-Op in the town for over 100 years.

He said: “Thanks to one of my Town Council colleagues, it has been brought to my attention that the history of the Co-Op in Chatteris goes back over a century, and as a direct result of the town’s engineering history.

“According to the book ‘We’re the Characters Now’, Mr John Essen ran the Chatteris Engineering Company Ltd. from 1895 until 1922, and his company was famous in its day for building equipment for the diamond mines in South Africa. Consequently, a large workforce of 200 men was based in the town.

“However, some of the local shopkeepers, for whatever bizarre reason, didn’t treat the workmen particularly well and so Mr Essen requested that the Co-op opened a branch in Chatteris, to ensure that his men were given a ‘square deal’.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Picture: Steve Williams.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

“This they did, and the Co-Op has maintained a store of varying sizes during the ensuing time including a small department store along the High Street, which was converted into flats during the 1980s now named Peck’s Court.

“I would hope that the former Co-Op employees who are embarking upon or seeking a new career upon the shop’s closure will be proud to know that they will be forming part of our town’s social history – and equally I wish them all the best for the future too.

“So on behalf of the people of Chatteris and the surrounding area – ‘thank-you’ for the service you have provided us over the last 100 years.”

Co-op Chatteris closing. Picture: Steve Williams.

Co-op Chatteris closing. Picture: Steve Williams. - Credit: Archant

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