Outcry over changes in Uckfield High Street

Central Parade and The Wakelyns are two addresses that were once well known in Uckfield High Street.

But you might not have heard of them … unless you have visited a new exhibition at Bridge Cottage or have lived in the town for a very long time, writes Cathy Watson.


The history of all the shops in part of Uckfield High Street, once known as Central Parade, is traced in an exhibition at Bridge Cottage.

They are connected because The Wakelyns, a residential property with reputedly beautiful gardens on Uckfield High Street was demolished in the late 1930s so that a parade of shops – Central Parade – with flats above could be built.

A fascinating story has been put together by Dawn Harker about this part of the High Street for inclusion in the Bridge Cottage exhibition which will open daily until April 7, 10am-4pm, excluding Sundays and Bank Holiday Monday.


One of the pictures of Central Parade included in the Uckfield High Street exhibition at Bridge Cottage.

More researchers have unearthed information about other sections of the High Street but here, and to give you a flavour of what to expect at the exhibition, we’re focussing on what Dawn has discovered.

She says that before World War 2 much of the left hand side of the High Street looking north was residential and part of the Rocks Estate.


Demolition of The Wakelyns.

There was an outcry when plans were unveiled to demolish The Wakelyns and, more particularly, fell a flowering chestnut tree in its gounds to make way for 16 shops with flats above.


Opposition to the building of Central Parade focussed on saving a flowering chestnut tree.

The anchor store was … Woolworths.

Central Parade stretches from Casari today up to Gale and Woolgar and Dawn has found details of all the businesses occupying the shops on the parade from the time they were built until the present day.

In some cases she shares stories about the individuals too.

Here we share Dawn’s information about each shop. We give their current name and then list occupants, the earliest first.

Gale and Woolgar

16 Central Parade, now 47 High Street.

  • Ministry of Food to Anglo Dutch Toy Co
  • Uckfield Toy Company
  • National Provincial Bank, a new bank was built 1967/8 and they moved from number 47.
  • Gale and Woolgar – they moved in from 88 High Street, the ‘Top Shop” in 1969.

Baldwins Travel

15 Central Parade, now 45 High Street

  • GA Johnstone ‘Jonny’s’
  • La France (Uckfield), high class dress shop,
  • Carvills 15 – to distinguish it from the main shop across the High Street
  • Triade?, or similar name
  • Personal Service Travel
  • Red Box Travel
  • Baldwins Travel

Cristobal Gifts

14 Central Parade, now 43 High Street

  • Moyle’s Electrical Shop
  • Moyle’s Electrical Shop, but occupant changed to M I Sait
  • R E Preston
  • Ellis and Frisby Parade Radio (formerly Ellis and Frisby), moved to Morgan’s Yard 1977
  • Fancy Goods and Gifts
  • Harlequin Zingo
  • Bargain Box Household Goods
  • Vacant
  • Touch of Glass
  • Uckfield Trading Post
  • Cristobal Gifts


13 Central Parade, now 41 High Street

  • Estate Surveyor Ministry of Works
  • Apex Motor and Cycle Co, Brighton
  • Uckfield Motor Cycles
  • Eves Cycles – moved from 2 Framfield Road at the time Mr Eaves senior retired. His son took over and also sold toys and games.
  • Eves Cycles and Toys
  • SuperSnaps
  • Incredible Gifts
  • All Wrapped Up
  • Subway

W E Clark and Son jewellers

12 Central Parade, now 39 High Street

  • Estate Surveyor Ministry of Works
  • N E Cole
  • Nicholson’s Fruit and Vegetables
  • Gerrard’s Fruit and Vegetables
  • Sam Cook Fruit and Vegetables
  • Orchard Fruits
  • Vacant
  • A Chatfield and Sons, jewellers
  • Maze
  • W E Clark and Son

Clarks shoes

11 Central Parade, now 37 High Street

  • Milwards and Sons, shoes
  • Clarks

Lansdown Health Food Shop

10 Central Parade, now 35 High Street

  • N Russell
  • N E Cole
  • E Piggott (The Lounge cafe)
  • The Lounge Cafe
  • Birkbecks
  • Point Blank Cards
  • Best Wishes cards
  • Hallmark cards
  • Vacant
  • Lansdown Health Food shop.

W H Smith

9 Central Parade, now 33 High Street

  • F W Woolworths, anchor tenant, involved from the planning stage
  • W H Smith
  • W H Smith, including Post Office.

Poppins cafe/restaurant

8 Central Parade, now 31 High Street

  • S Belman and Sons
  • Duncan Fosters bakery/cafe
  • Knowles bakers and restaurant
  • 3 Cooks bakery/cafe
  • Zones cafe/restaurant
  • Poppins cafe/restaurant

Corals betting office

7 Central Parade, now 29 High Street

  • Boots the Chemist
  • Dewhurst’s butchers
  • Vacant
  • Excel Ladies Wear
  • Vacant
  • Corals betting office

Vision Express opticians

6 Central Parade, now 27 High Street

  • Achille Serre
  • Olives Ladies Wear
  • Bateman’s optician
  • Vision Express, opticians

St Wilfrid’s Hospice charity shop

5 Central Parade, now 25 HighStreet

  • The Book Club (Crowborough)
  • Dyers Books
  • J A Potters book shop
  • Widget and Dibber
  • St Wilfrid’s Hospice charity shop

Chestnut Tree House charity shop

4 Central Parade, now 23 High Street

  • Ellmer and Sons – sold wet fish with shop front open to the road in all winds and weathers
  • Venus Ladies Wear
  • Discount Warehouse
  • Vacant
  • Corbin’s Delicatessen
  • Chestnut Tree House charity shop

Uckfield Hardware

3, 2 and 1 Central Parade, now 21C High Street

  • Three shops were originally used jointly as the labour exchange and eventually numbered 21 High Street as a single larger unit. This was later divided back into the tree units with letter distinguishing each unit.
  • Co-op Supermarket
  • Hardware Goods
  • Uckfield Hardware

Ali’s Fantastic Barbers

3,2, and 1 Central Parade, now 21B High Street

  • See above
  • Ian’s Joint butchers
  • Vacant
  • Burger Fast Foods
  • Quadric Office Furniture
  • P Com Equipment
  • Ambience Interior Decor
  • Ali’s Fantastic Barbers


3,2, and 1 Central Parade, now 21A High Street

  • See Uckfield Hardware notes
  • Cedar Carpets
  • Wickerwork Furniture
  • Vacant
  • Pina Call Mobile
  • KEB Telecom
  • Chameleon Gifts
  • Tres Joli
  • Elysium gifts and engraving
  • Cadari

This exhibition will be worth a few visits – there is so much information to absorb. Dr Maria Kirk who has curated it, and the researchers who have helped her have done a fantastic job. Congratulations to them.

See also:

Plans take shape for this year’s Uckfield Festival

New Uckfield Chamber president says strong business voice is important

Sussex Police: Did you see Uckfield High Street crash?

Find local businesses in our Uckfield Directory

How to advertise on UckfieldNews.com

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