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Ross-on-Wye

Shop Fronts

The shops/companies using the buildings is based on adverts from Ross Guide Books (so the dates are based on the estimations of the age of the guidebook) and when, more recently, photos have been taken of the current or recent businesses to use the buildings.

The lists of companies/shops at the addresses is not complete because if they did not advertise then they may not have been identified. The dates shown indicate when either adverts were noted or photos have been taken rather than when the shop or business opened.

7 Market Place

  • Nationwide Building Society [2006 to 2009]
  • Kids in Fashion [1975]
  • Melias Ltd [1935]
  • A. J. Kiddle [1910 to 1923]
  • H. J. Andrews [1910]

Nationwide Building Society
7 Market Place - Nationwide - 5 April 2006
7 Market Place in 2006
(Click for a larger image)

H. J. Andrews
7 Market Place circa 1910
7 Market Place circa 1910
(Click for a larger image)

H. J. Andrews
Clerical Tailor and Breeches Maker, Hatter, Hosier, Glover and Shirt Maker.
Large stock to select from.
Low Prices consistent with highest qualities.
Patterns Free.
5 per cent discount for cash.

Andrews Tailor and Hatter
Andrews Tailor and Hatter1
(Click for a larger image)

13 Market Place

The Central Cafe
13 Market Place
13 Market Place circa 1960
(Click for a larger image)
The Central Cafe
The Central Cafe2
(Click for a larger image)

The Central Bakery was one of the oldest family firms in Ross, was one of the founder members of Family Loaf Bakers, Avonmouth, and their premises occupied a prominent site in the Market Place which is a prime retail position in Ross.

Mr. Thomas Williams founded the Williams Central Bakery (Ross) Ltd. in 1921 when he acquired the business from Mr. A. E. Baldwin who was a Pastry Cook and Confectioner, baker and flour dealer and the shop was a tea rooms.

Thomas brought with him his horse and van that he had been using for deliveries from the general stores and post office that he had set up at Kingsthorne; the deliveries then became speedier with the introduction of motor vans.

The first floor of the building, before it was converted into offices, was before and after the war quite a social centre, being a popular place for dinners, whist drives and meetings.

The door to the Central Bakery
The door to the Central Bakery

His sons, Central Bakery directors, Trevor and Geoffrey Williams, recalled that in the days following the evacuation from Dunkirk a large number of troops were stationed in Ross and 270 meals were served four times a day to these troops and afterwards, the upstairs cafe became an officers' mess.

At its peak the business had 40 employees with four vans serving Mr. Stan Little's bakery, Brookend Street, which they had taken over and a shop in St. Owen's Street, Hereford. Besides the wholesale business they were making 1,000 retail deliveries.


His son, Mr. Geoffrey Williams, then took over the business and then his son, Mr. Michael Williams, joined the board of directors in 1986 at the age of 21 to become the third generation running the business3.

Michael trained at North Gloucestershire College of Arts and Technology after leaving Wycliffe College, Stonehouse. He took over the day to day running of the bakery and the management of around 20 employees in January 1986. His father, Geoffrey, took over as the chairman of the business when his brother Mr. Trevor Williams (Michael's uncle) relinquished the chairmanship. Trevor remained as a director and also lent a hand in the bakery when needed along with Michael's aunts, Frances and Jean.

Each day the business turns out more than 100 kinds of cakes, buns and rolls, along with speciality celebration cakes.

During an interview with the Ross Gazette Michael said:


Since I joined the firm, I have introduced a number of new lines including the Herefordshire lardie, apple and cherry strudels and lemon doughnuts.

I am now developing some new recipe ideas, one of which has strong local history connections.

In March 1991 the business was taken over by a nationwide concern, Rank, Hovis and McDougall. They had, in 1991, 200 shops in the UK in an area stretching from Middlesborough to Plymouth and now Ross to Dover. Most of the shops traded under the name of "Three Cooks" or "Sarah's Restaurants" and the Ross shop became a "Three Cooks".

13 Market Place - Three Cooks - 5 April 2006
13 Market Place in 2006 (Click for a larger image)

The Williams family retained the ownership of the shop, kitchen and bakery in Ross and leased it to RHM. Mr. Geoffrey Williams continued as chairman of Swansea Bakeries, a wholesale company he helped to form in 1985 and with 20 employees supplies bread and cakes over a wide area of South Wales.

RHM then spent around 40,000 on refurbishing the Ross premises and further developing the take-away and catering side of the business whilst the shop continued to bake bread, rolls and buns and confectionery on the premises4.

On the 1st November 2006, Three Cooks suddenly went into administration5 and all the shops closed without warning, which came as a shock to the staff.

During 2007 and 2008 the shop was empty or let for short term lease such as to Neat n Cheap when they moved from Gloucester Road. Planning permission was granted to demolish the building and put a new retail unit and flats on the site and it was rumoured that M&S Simply Food were looking at potentially coming to Ross. Unfortunately they carried out one of their foot fall surveys on a particularly quiet day in the town and the economic downturn had started and they decided not to come to Ross.

In January 2009 planning permission was requested to change the use and frontage of the site and following this, in August 2009, Costa Coffee opened their shop after substantial changes were made to open up the interior of the premises.

Costa Coffee Shop Ross-on-Wye
Costa Coffee (on the 9/8/09 before it opened) (Click for a larger image)


1 - The Wye Valley Illustrated from Hereford to Chepstow
No.323 Burrows Royal Handbooks [Fifth Edition c.1910] published by Edward J. Burrow
2 Ross - The Gateway of the Wye Valley - Ross-on-Wye Chamber of Commerce [c.1960]
3 Ross Gazette - 30/1/86
4 Assurance on jobs as bakery is taken over - Ross Gazette - 21/3/91
5 Bakery jobs may go - Express and Star - Friday, November 3rd, 2006 - http://www.expressan.../bakery-jobs-may-go/


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[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:58]






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