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Chatteris Co-op closure is the end of an era

Letters from the Fenland Citizen, fenlandcitizen.co.uk, @FenlandCit on Twitter
Letters from the Fenland Citizen, fenlandcitizen.co.uk, @FenlandCit on Twitter

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

As previously reported in the local media and via social networking pages, the Co-op superstore 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 over 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 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’.

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 following 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.

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.

Cllr James Carney,

Mayor of Chatteris.


Hall an option for you?

I write following recent articles in your newspaper regarding the rules as to what type of goods can be sold on charity stalls on Wisbech Market Place.

Whilst not wishing to contribute to that debate I would like to point out that we hold a monthly car boot and table top sale at St Peter’s Church Hall, only 200 yards from the Market Place and, although the stalls are not free, the cost is low and charities are welcome to sell anything that is legal and safe.

If local charities are interested in taking a stall I suggest they come and see us at St Peter’s Church Hall at either of our next events on Saturday, February 28, and Saturday, March 21, between 9am and noon.

Keith W Aplin,

Chair, Hall Management Committee,

St Peter’s Church Hall,



Is demand ‘soaring’?

Statistics are funny things, especially when applied to train travellers.

For example, the item on the new Manea train service run by Abellio Greater Anglia (“Soaring demand for improved train service” January 7) said that the regular Ipswich to Peterborough service, which now calls two-hourly at Manea on weekdays and Saturdays, has seen passenger journeys to and from the village increase in the last year from 300 to more than 700 per month.

On the face of it this sounds as though the average number of people catching the train at Manea has risen to around 30 per day. But Abellio has since confirmed that an individual travelling on a return ticket is counted as two ‘passenger journeys’.

This means that the average number of people catching a train at Manea throughout the day is actually fewer than 15...around three people per train.

If this tiny number demonstrates anything at all, it is that expensive train travel is neither “very popular” with village communities, nor in any sense a “real public transport alternative” to cars.

Victoria Gillick,




I have lived in this area for a few years and a couple of things have puzzled me:

1) – Why do so many drivers around here seem so reluctant to use their indicators?

2) – Why are there many drivers who, whatever the speed limit, always drive at least 10mph below it?

Please enlighten me.

Mitch Mitchell,


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