Fond memories of Fine Fare after Starbucks comes to Stevenage town centre

People have been harking back to the beginings of Stevenage town centre, pictured here under constru

People have been harking back to the beginings of Stevenage town centre, pictured here under construction in 1957. Picture: ourstevenage.org.uk - Credit: Archant

A young mum from Stevenage has been staggered by the response to her request for people to share their memories of a town centre store, with more than 350 people indulging in the nostalgia of Fine Fare.

Starbucks has opened on the former Fine Fare site

Starbucks has opened on the former Fine Fare site - Credit: Archant

Fine Fare – which was a chain of supermarkets in the UK – established a store in the 1950s in Stevenage’s Town Square, in the same unit where Starbucks has recently opened.

After Fine Fare, it became supermarket Gateway – which later changed its name to Somerfield – before becoming discount store QD and now Starbucks.

The coffee shop opening prompted resident Gemma Brown, 26, to take to Facebook and ask for people’s oldest memories of the unit on the Old Memories of Stevenage 2 page.

More than 350 people have contributed their recollections, from fond childhood memories of shopping in Fine Fare with grandparents to memories from workers employed by the firm.


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Gemma said: “I love hearing about the history of the town and people’s memories of growing up in Stevenage.”

One woman, who worked in the café upstairs, said: “I worked all day on a Saturday and earned myself a whole £1, then popped over to the market through Woollies and bought a couple of tops with my wages.”

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People remember smelling Bovril wafting down the stairs from the café, playing card games with friends and ‘boy-watching’ from the balcony on a Saturday afternoon.

One man said: “I loved the Fine Fare cafe upstairs. I used to go there in the late 50s, early 60s, with my mum and sit on the balcony.

“I used to love the orange squash machine, which had life-sized plastic oranges floating around in it being continually turned by some sort of paddle. It had probably been there for weeks - there was very little health and safety in those days.”

A woman remembers sitting on the balcony drinking “the best ever milkshakes” on a sunny Saturday afternoon in 1964, while someone else recalls buying Three Steps to Heaven by Eddie Cochran in the record section. Another remembers her brother got his head stuck in the café railings.

Gemma said: “It’s just so nice to hear from the community and how things have changed over the years.

“Some like the new changes, while others will take time to adapt, but life goes on and things change all the time.”

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