The Octagon, Murrays, Woolworths and the delicious smell from a chocolate factory – these are just some of the things readers remember about growing up in High Wycombe.

‘You know you grew up in Wycombe when you remember…’ – that is the question we put to members in our ‘We Grew Up in Wycombe’ Facebook group and the answers were not surprising.

Anyone who grew up in the town will know these memories as being synonymous with High Wycombe.

All the archive photos can be found at

Stewart and Arnold chocolate factory

Bucks Free Press:

Many readers wistfully remembered the scrumptious smell of chocolate from Stewart and Arnold’s (S&A).

Andrea Blundell said her grandfather was the night watchman at S&A for years, adding: “ [I] loved him bringing home the chocolate reject shapes.”

The factory was torn down in the 1990s.

The Octagon

Bucks Free Press: Top picture taken around 1970 and bottom photo taken in 1985Top picture taken around 1970 and bottom photo taken in 1985

The Octagon shopping centre, now a part of Eden, was formally opened on October 6, 1970, by the Duchess of Kent after four years of construction which caused major disruption to other shops in the town.

The £5.8 million shopping centre was part of a redevelopment of the town centre in the late 60s and included a new ‘inner relief road’ and bus station.

Many readers said they have fond memories there, including Lorna Haywood who said: “Hanging out in the Octagon on a Saturday afternoon by the telephone kiosks waiting for your mates to arrive to plan the weekend.

“[There were] no mobile phones in those days.”

Samantha Chignell Smith said she remembers sitting outside Sainsbury’s in the shopping centre, while Peter Oxbrow said he recalled going to the Tuesdays nightclub in the centre.


Bucks Free Press:

The shop was another favourite with readers who grew up in the town, with Phil Laybourne saying he remembered “watching the clock go up and down in Murray’s Store and their huge pick and mix sweet selection.”

In the mid-20th Century, Murrays was THE iconic Wycombe department store.

The ‘wave canopy’ above the front entrance to the store and the clock which moved up and down with the lifts, became icons in the town centre.

Murrays was known as a ‘walk-round’ store and became an instant success.

Kathryn Roberts said she recalled “Murray’s original store with the bouncy wooden floors and the little room upstairs with all the sewing patterns,” while Elaine Riddle added: “The clock that used to bounce up and down through the stairwell – I was always fascinated with that clock, and used to stand on one of the middle floors, so I could watch it come down and then back up again.”

Ann Montague Hall also remembered buying her first fridge from Murrays.


Bucks Free Press:

The store was another fond memory for many readers, with Gee Green saying they bought their first record from the original store, when it was where the Chiltern Centre is now.

And Jon Cloke added: “I started my own record collection there back in the 70s. Great store for that.”

The “Woolworths 3d & 6d Store” was on the Church Street side of Queen Square, Nos 5&6, and opened to shoppers early in 1927.

It then acquired new premises and replaced the Red Lion Hotel in the High Street.

The store closed its doors for the final time in January 2009, having stood in the town centre for 40 years.

Readers also recalled watching films at the popular Palace Cinema, in Frogmoor, which was demolished in the 1980s.

The Chiltern Centre now stands in its place.

Bucks Free Press: Pictured: Frogmoor fountain on the left and the Palace cinema in the right mid-distance, around 1935Pictured: Frogmoor fountain on the left and the Palace cinema in the right mid-distance, around 1935

Hanging out by the Frogmoor fountain also featured heavily in our readers’ memories, as well as nightclubs such as Tuesdays, also called The Bucks Club at one point, and Oceans, as well as Duces fish and chips, Bull Lane fish and chips, Jay’s Pizza, watching Wycombe play up or downhill at Loakes Park, going to dances at the Old Town Hall and seeing Father Christmas at the Co-op in the High Street.

What are some of your favourite memories of growing up in High Wycombe? Let us know in the comments below.

To join the group, go to or search We Grew Up in Wycombe on Facebook.