Co-op’s closure marked the end of an era for Chatteris

Saturday, February 14, 2015 marked the end of an era for Chatteris.

As previously reported in the local media and via social networking pages, the Co-op store closed its doors for the last time on that day.

Thanks to one of my town council colleagues, just recently it has been brought to my attention that the history of the Co-op in Chatteris goes back more than a century, and as a direct result of the town’s engineering history.

According to the book We’re the Characters Now, a certain Mr John Essen ran the Chatteris Engineering Company Ltd from 1895-1922 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.

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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’.

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

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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.


Mayor of Chatteris

Via e-mail

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