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We have been planning our move to our new office for some time now. As we speak, it has more resemblance to a building site, but rest assured work is going on at a fast pace to turn the once boring, grey building in to what will be Fresh Egg’s new, modern, swanky home. As you can probably tell, we are super excited about it all and will reveal more details over the coming weeks. However, there’s an entirely unexpected and fascinating back story worthy of some sort of serendipity award! Quite coincidentally, Paul Chaloner has more than a passing interest and connection with the new building and here he explains just what that is......
I’ll admit, I like architecture and although I wouldn’t say I get emotionally attached, Ted Mosby style to a set of bricks placed on top of each other, some buildings do stir a sense of fascination and even awe, particularly if they have history or character. The new Fresh Egg building used to be Allied Carpets, a carpeting retailer that went out of business a while back and before that it was a small town centre Tesco. Nothing remarkable about either of those and the building itself is less than glamorous to look at, but as I said, some buildings stir me due to history and this is one such piece of bricks and mortar and it also has not just one, but two rather odd pieces of family history attached to it, which is why when I sit at my desk in the new office for the first time, I will be thinking about the fact I would have been the third member of my family to have worked in the same place.
I don’t have the entire history of the building, but it was built, along with the car park above it in the late 1960s and in the early 70s it was primarily a food retailer, eventually being taken over by Tesco. In 1973 my father worked for the supermarket giant and was on the fast track to management and would often be asked to “sort out” a local shop by going in and re-organising it to make more profit. At this time he worked mainly out of the Shoreham area, long before the giant Tesco at Holmbush was built and when Tesco were mainly in city and town centres.
One of his first managerial roles would be to kick the Worthing branch in to shape after it had taken over a previous retailer in the very same building that Fresh Egg have now acquired. Little did he know that nearly 40 years later, his son would be working in the same place, all be it for a very different type of company.
But the family connection doesn’t end there. In the early years of my parent’s marriage, both of them worked for Tesco and indeed that is where they met, but as time went on, my mother yearned for something more challenging and took a role as a cashier in the Allied Carpets branch in Brighton. After a short time, she rose through different roles to become assistant manager at the store. It wasn’t long before she was given the chance to manage a store, all be it on a temporary basis to start with. Back in the late 1970s, it was still relatively unheard of for a women to manage large stores like this, so she was something of a trailblazer in her time and just as the UK elected its first female prime minister, my mother was given her first managerial assignment – managing Allied Carpets in Worthing, where just six years earlier, my father had managed in the same place.
I have limited memories of that time, being only seven or eight but I do remember stock take days. Back then, the entire shop would close to the public, but all of the staff would have to go in and sometimes on a Sunday. My mother would therefore have little choice but to take me to work with her and I do recall playing football with the carpet fitters in the warehouse at the back of the store.
It’s odd to think that I will be working in the same place as both of my parents have worked in previously. Although there will be little time for sentiment once we are moved in, I will take a moment to reflect on my mothers life (she passed away in 1999) and the fact that I will be the third Chaloner to work in the building in the third different business to have occupied the property.