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I worked for Weston Hart in the late 70's although I also remember it fondly as a customer of the record dep't at the Fareham store as a teenager.

As someone has said, it wasn't a furniture store but a radio/tv/record store although the radiograms and tv's in cabinets of the late 60's could have been mistaken for furniture.

I Don't claim to be an expert on the history of the firm's early day's but was aware it had been set up by (as we were told) two ladies, although I understood it to have been even earlier than 1952.

In the 70's it had been absorbed into a larger company, the 'Woolacott group' who were I believe Haywards Heath based, although the local stores continued to trade as 'Weston Hart'.

'Woolacott's' folded in the mid to late 70's and a Gosport based businessman with varied local interests, including the Gosport 'Rootes' dealership (later 'Chrysler', later Talbot.'Erskin Motors' if memory serves) bought the company which is about when I joined.

At that time the remaining branches were North End (head office), Arundel St, Fratton Rd (service dep't), Cosham, Waterlooville and Fareham, although not at the original site, which had been towards the High St end of West St but a new location, adjacent to one of the entrances to the (then new) Fareham Shopping Centre.

I started off at Fareham as 'salesman'. There was a manager, Mike Southon was mine, a record dep't manageress plus a record dep't assistant. Dave Shaw was the manager at North End, Ray Marsh at Arundel St, Ray Tasker was another name from the period but can't remember which branch he worked at. The general manager was Ian Hoper. After a while at Fareham my manager and I switched to Waterlooville and later Mike transferred to North End and I took over as manager of Waterlooville.

Sadly the owners got into difficulties and yet again 'Weston Hart' went bust in 1979.

I was managing Waterlooville at the time, although the staff had dwindled to just myself, Mina, who ran records and my mate Ron who was my 'Saturday' lad.

All the shops closed other than Cosham, which Ian Hoper bought and it continued for a few years as a record only shop, trading as 'Hart & Soul'

Francis Catcheside


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