The story of Waitrose supermarket High Street Banstead
Waitrose banstead - Epsom Guardian

Waitrose supermarket is not the usual item you might expect to find on a history website however the fire that destroyed it on the 12 Dec 2008 has already been reported as The Great Fire of Banstead. Furthermore, the site is very close to the position of the Old Manor House and later the Old Village School.

The school was demolished, and Waitrose opened in December 1990. Built in the same architectural style, it fitted well into the High street soon becoming the hub of the village.

Waitrose has committed to rebuilding the store and we hope to follow its progress here.

Waitrose  Banstead Clocktower

The Waitrose

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Waitrose building at the same stage 20 years ago:

Waitrose Banstead 1989

This photograph was taken in 1989 during the construction of the original Waitrose store.

Some of the steel uprights in this building survived the fire of Dec 2008 and they form part of the new structure.

July 2009 - The Banstead skyline changes again........
Waitrose Banstead Jul 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG

The view down the Avenue Road side of the
new building. It will be wider here than the original.

Waitrose Banstead Jul 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG

Photo taken on 1st of July 2009 from opposite
the old car park entrance.

Waitrose Banstead July 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG
The brickwork already starting to go up.
June 2009 - Structure appears above hoarding.
Waitrose Banstead June 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG

The new viewing window is located
just to the left of the green poster.

The new steel structure is starting to take shape with parts of the top floor already bolted together.

For the first time, a viewing window has been cut into the hoarding at the corner of Avenue Road and the High Street allowing the public to look in and view the progress for themselves. 

The photo below was taken through the viewing window and looks west along the High Street showing the front of the new store.
Waitrose Banstead - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG
11 Mar 2009 - Demolition of store well under way.

Demolition of the old store seems to be progressing well. Every day there is a bit less of the old building most of which has to be demolished as the temperatures of the fierce blaze buckled the original steelwork. It's now nearly three months since the old store burned down.

The new smaller Waitrose store at the old Woolworths premises has successfully relieved many of the difficulties experienced by local shoppers during the time when no Waitrose store was operational in the High Street.

Waitrose Banstead March 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG

Looking down Avenue Road

Waitrose Banstead Mar 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG

View of the rear of the building.

Waitrose Banstead - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG
12 Feb 2009 - Waitrose reopens at temporary site.

Exactly two months to the day since the fire that destroyed the popular Waitrose store in Banstead High street, a new smaller Waitrose store has reopened at the old Woolworths premises at the western end of the High street.

Waitrose Banstead - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG Waitrose Banstead 12 Feb 2009 - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG
There were plenty of customers on the first morning of the 12th February 2009, all looking at the fully stocked shelves
and trying to find the new location of the favourite purchases.
Waitrose Banstead - photo courtesy of Lewis Wood of BHRG
8 Feb 2009 - Waitrose at Woolworths - Opening date confirmed .

Woolworths sign

"Baby Banstead"
opens on
Thursday 12 February

3 Feb 2009 - Work progressing well at the Woolworths site.

Waitrose banstead checkouts

Pictured left is the scene at the old Woolworths store where work continues to fit the store in readiness for the new temporary Waitrose to open in mid February.

In the foreground is a brand new checkout and a further four have been installed running along the old Woolworths' sweets isle.

The large poster at the front of the shop has been removed and Banstead shoppers can watch the progress through the shop front window.

24 Jan 2009 - Demolition to start next week.

WAITROSE DEMOLITIONThe Waitrose team confirmed at yesterday's exhibition that demolition will start next week, and rebuilding might take longer than initially expected. The official date for the re-opening is not until June next year, but it may be possible to bring this forward if no serious hold ups are experienced. The first step is getting formal planning permission and this could take as long as three months.

In the meantime work continues at the old Woolworths site with a planned opening date of 15 February. Clearly the move is a temporary stopgap and it is inevitable that the normal Waitrose service has to be tailored to fit the new circumstances. For example, all food will be pre packed. It is also clearly not possible for Waitrose to provide a designated area for customer parking. This might be slightly inconvenient for some, but is a far better option than no Waitrose at all and most locals are eagerly awaiting the opening of this new store.

23 Jan 2009 - Proposed plans at exhibition.

The Waitrose team have started their communication excerise with the people of Banstead who were able to view the proposed plans for the new store on Friday 23 January 2009 at an exhibition at the United Reformed Church Hall.

This was very well attended and visitors were able to speak to the store manager, a member of the council and also the architects. A display at the back of the hall showed the proposed plans which we are unable to show in any detail at this time. Outwardly the store will look very similar to the old one, and there will not be any significant expansion as this is not necessary. Car parking will be increased which will help avoid the queues in the High street.

The building is expected to take approximately one year and Waitrose will do everything they can to minimise any disruption to the High street and the local community.

15 Jan 2009 - Waitrose to occupy the old Woolworths site in February.

First they were, then there were not and now it appears that they are. Work is ongoing in the old Woolworths store to convert it to a temporary Waitrose with an opening date around mid February.

The Banstead Waitrose store was one of the most profitable for the company and even had the biggest order for Christmas turkeys of all the Waitrose stores. No surprise then that Waitrose would like to keep a presence in our High street, and we can't wait to have them back.

12 Jan 2009 - Waitrose plan to reopen before Christmas 2009.

One month on from the fire, Banstead Waitrose staff now working at other stores have been told that there will be no leave next November/December to allow for the opening of the new store.

12 Dec 2008 - Eye witness report by Ralph Maciejewski (BHRG secretary)

 The BHRG chairman was at the Lady Neville Ground Pavillion attending a Christmas buffet and I was with my wife and two other people at the Royal China Restaurant close by to Waitrose.

I arrived at the Royal China just opposite Waitrose, at 7pm having parked in a side road just off the High street.  Sometime after 8.30pm my wife Irene said that she could smell burning but then thought it must just be a candle. Ten minutes later the fire appliances arrived at the scene of the fire. By that time there was a lot of smoke obscuring the view of the store from the restaurant.

Everybody stayed in the restaurant until the huge explosion. When it occurred, the huge plate glass window at the front of the restaurant was severely rattled but thankfully did not break. It was then that the management ordered everyone out the restaurant through the rear emergency exit.

Leaving the restuarant was traumatic. The alleyway behind the restaurant was very dark and the smoke so thick and acrid that breathing was difficult. I managed to help my wife to the end of the alley way to be greeted by my car with its indicators flashing. The explosion clearly upset the car as well as the people.

Everything we had on us stank of the acrid smoke.

Shortly after getting home, Mark phoned to say that he was safe. He told me that as soon as the explosion occurred a fireman arrived at the Paviliion and ordered everyone to evacuate the building. He made sure that everyone was accounted for before escorting the guests past the burning building in Avenue Road.

Mark mentioned that before the explosion he looked outside and saw a fireman on a ladder. After the explosion, the ladder was there but with no fireman. He was quite upset. Irene was also upset. Everybody was shaking after the event. I remember being quite weak and wobbly when I got home.

Mark did say that it was good to be able to phone someone and talk it over. Living on one's own and surviving such an experience is not much fun.

Everyone in our group had a bad night.

Earlier today, Michael Selby, who was with us at the Royal China, tried to get his coat that he left at the restaurant. He was prevented from doing so by a policeman who told him that it was now a crime scene and so was not allowed entry.  It seems that the store might have been the subject of an arson attack.

The following day, Saturday, the weather was awful. The heavens themselves seem to be weeping for a store that many have taken to their hearts and which was part of village life. It's almost as if that Banstead was weeping for its store.

Waitrose goes up in flames.
Waitrose, built on the site of the old village school was almost totally destroyed by fire which started just before 9.00pm on Friday 12 December. The fire appears to have started on the roof and fanned by high winds quickly spread across the store. A large explosion was heard by local residents at about 9.10 pm and this caused some of the roof to cave in. Flying debris broke several shop windows on the opposite side of the High street.

This photo taken from the Lady Neville Recreation ground shows
the fire at about 10.30pm on the 12 December 2008.
A local resident was inside Waitrose when the fire alarm went off. He watched as the flames grew higher and higher, then an explosion, and the roof fell in.

High winds raised the risk of the fire spreading to Barclays Bank across the road, and fire crews doused the roofs of premises across the High street to stop them catching light, as flames already higher than the building released an avalanche of flying sparks and burning embers across the road.

Shoppers who braved the pouring rain on Saturday morning were completely stunned by the scene that greeted them. The building was still smoking and the High Street closed.