By Michael Eagleton

Some of the many differing occupants of Number 5 High Street, the premises with the little listed bay windows, have been covered before in this column, but I’ve found a few different pictures to mark yet another change, after the rather surprising departure of the Halifax Building Society.

The new owners are Gail’s Bakers. My earliest picture (top left) is a print from the 1850s, just before cameras were in general use, and Number 5 may have been just residential, but a short distance away can be seen the name of Pearce, a newsagent, but also including a library and hairdresser in the same shop.

Around 1920, and in a picture taken from an upper window of the Crown Hotel, the sign on Number 5 reads Brown & Co. Bakers and Confectioners.

So, 100 years on, it is to become a bakery once again. I have an advert in a Directory of the time that tells us that Brown’s speciality was wedding cakes.

In the middle decades of the last Century this was the home of the Swan Café (top right) and they later went a bit more upmarket being renamed the White Swan Restaurant.

In the late 1960s (centre left) it became Spinners Record Shop, which incorporated a small coffee bar. The large illuminated display visible in their left hand window listed the “Top 20”.

For a short period the National Provincial Bank moved in whilst their next door premises were being modernised, just before the merger with the Westminster Bank. In the 1970s and 80s many of us still have memories of the friendly and obliging Dino, and his Trattoria La Veneziana.

The reason I showed surprise by the departure of the Building Society was that only three years ago the Marlow branch was featured in an extensive Halifax TV advertising campaign, which featured Parker and Lady Penelope with their limousine from “Thunderbirds”.

It’s another Bank / Building Society to leave the town. No doubt on-line banking is to blame, but in view of the tiny current interest rates on offer maybe you ought to put your money (if you’ve got any!) into gold sovereigns and store them under the floorboards.

n Contact Michael at or 01628 486571