Believe it or not Robert wasn’t there from the start…
It may be coming up to 40 years since Robert first took over Chapmans but it has been trading a whole lot longer than that. Since first opening in 1895 Chapmans has survived 6 monarchs and 24 prime ministers going all the way back to Queen Victoria and Robert Gascoyne-Cecil.
Chapmans began as just a small ironmongery section which is still here and gradually expanded to take over an old coal and grain store called Drake and Mounts which was fed from a railway siding (now the car park!). The business has grown over the decades to become what it is today.
The Great Fire of Sunninghill
On the 23rd April 1982, back when firemen used to look like Fireman Sam, a fire broke out in the old Chapmans yard, it closed the London Waterloo to Reading main railway line as cans of paint and sheep dip were exploding across the railway. It destroyed a large area of old store buildings and workshops and left Lesley Chapmans car burnt out. Thankfully nobody was hurt and the yard is now home to new local businesses!.
Up to today
The most recent major changes that were made to the shop occurred in 2004 when the rear of the shop was greatly extended to enable us to widen and organise our range further. This involved removing about a quarter of an acre of the old backyard sheds, installing an inside toilet and kitchen (thankfully as both had previously been outside corrugated sheds) and creating upstairs and downstairs sections for our household and light bulbs selections.