Changing Chippenham: A Dent on the Horizon

It's been a while since I've written something about Chippenham, so I'm delighted that the lovely NAH (I'm biased, of course) has written a guest post for me. Sadly it's about today's closure of Dentons, a major Chippenham landmark. It's the kind of place where both four candles AND fork handles can be found ;)

(NB NAH always likes his own headlines!)

A Dent on Chippenham's Horizon

Whenever a new shopping centre opens, I'm generally eager to see what it has to offer. Usually I find the anticipation better than the actual first visit.

When a shopping centre closes, I'm much more concerned about what will not be on offer any more.

Over the years, Chippenham has seen fit to allow some of its cultural icons to disappear, seemingly without any real thought about the meaning of the loss to the town. Remember these: Richard Branson's first night club, Golddiggers (formerly a Gaumont cinema); the 50 metre outdoor swimming pool below the Olympiad centre; the subway near the railway arches (built to help pedestrians cross the busy road!).

Now another one is to go and be replaced with more town centre residential properties.

Dentons 27th June 2013
Dentons, the Iron Mongers on the corner of Park Lane and St Paul Street, closes its doors finally on Saturday June 29th 2013.

I've lived in the Chippenham area since 1984 and Dentons has always been there. Listening to shoppers looking for a closing-down bargain at 50% off, the comment "we don't have it but try Dentons" was the frequent story quoted from other stores. Personally, this happened to me a while ago when I wanted to buy some paraffin as nobody else stocked it any more.

If you've ever had a look around Dentons, it's easy to see why they have always been recommended.

It's here somewhere...
...or perhaps here!
But if you're really stuck, there's the little room out-the-back with the rest of the treasures.

Hidden treasure trove
My imagination tells me that somewhere around here is a senior gentleman in a brown warehouse coat carrying a small brown paper bag with just what you want!

My paraffin search led me to discover Dentons' prize icon, the paraffin dispensing machine.

One gallon or two sir?
This really caught my eye as a complete anachronism doing the job it was always designed for, day in, day out. Who knows how long it has been there!

I did make a small enquiry about what was to happen to the machine when the shop closed. I was informed that it would be going into Chippenham's museum. Thank goodness for that; it's just one of those treasures that needs preserving - and using if possible.

Dentons, soon to be a Dent on Chippenham's horizon
So farewell Dentons. You've served Chippenham proudly for 60 years. Rest in peace, a Chippenham icon to be fondly remembered.


  1. I love shops like this one - full of things that you didn't know you needed! It's shops like this that give a place some character, not the out of town shopping centres that are the same wherever you go. It will be missed once it's gone - a bit like the ice-cream shop on the corner of my street which is now just a house but older residents still talk of Maury's ice-cream!
    A nice little post with a glimpse of Chippenham - thank you NAH!

  2. So sad it's going. The last place in Chippenham where you could buy a small brown paper bag of plaster of paris, and proper boxes of citric acid for descaling the kettle.

  3. It's sad when shops like this close. I worked part-time in a traditional hardware shop very much like this one for a number of years. It looked very much like these photos but no longer sold paraffin.
    Locals always used to say that if you couldn't get it there you wouldn't get it anywhere. Flighty xx

  4. We have a shop just like that in the nearest town to us, it is amazing what they stock. If you just want a couple of nails or 1 sheet of sandpaper, that's fine, nothing is too small and doesn't come as a multi- pack. Also, if they didn't stock it, they would order it for you and phone you when it had arrived, that's customer service. Such a shame when they close.

  5. Our local hardware store is small and doesn't carry nearly the range of Dentons, but will order almost anything for you from their huge range of catalogues.
    Unfortunately the shop is for sale and I do so hope that someone buys it and keeps it going. The next nearest hardware shop is 17 miles away and our nearest B&Q is 32 miles away. One of the things you have to take into account before moving to this part of North Wales!

  6. What a wonderful place, such a shame it is closing. We have a similar (but smaller) shop where I live, and I do hope it is able to survive. They really do have everything!

  7. Thanks for your comments everyone, I've loved re-reading your stories this morning :)

    Zoe - welcome, lovely to hear from a fellow Chippenham resident!


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