ONE local business that will be remembered by many 'old Wantagians' will be Nichols and Son, newsagents and printers who were in existence in Wantage for over 100 years.

The business was started by Mr Henry Norman Nichols , who was born on February 10, 1848, at Petersfield in Hampshire, the son of Henry Nichols, chemist of that town.

After serving for 12 months as an apprentice with his father, Henry gave up that idea and was consequently apprenticed to a bookseller and stationer at Cirencester.

Having completed his apprenticeship, Henry worked in Cheltenham, Liverpool, Manchester and London, gaining valuable experience before coming to Wantage in 1875.

Here he took over on July 1, 1875, the printing and stationary business called Pavior and Roberts at 6 Market Place. In 1877, H N Nichols had the first printing machine in North Berkshire.

Henry Norman Nichols married in Wantage in 1876 to Mary Ann Tosland and the couple had four sons and a daughter. For the next forty years the business prospered. Nichols printed Wantage and District Almanacs and guides, the Wantage Parish Magazine, owned the Novel Exchange Library and were the branch office for the North Wilts Herald and the Berkshire Times.

The firm also acted as insurance and assurance agents.

Herald Series:

Henry Norman Nichols died in 1915, and was succeeded in the business by his second son John Alexander Nichols, who ran the business until his own death in 1937.

The business celebrated its diamond jubilee in 1935.

John Nichols spent much time working for the community. During WW1 he was a special constable and was awarded the MBE for his work during WW1 for the War Savings Association and the comforts fund for local men serving abroad.

He was also Hon Secretary for the Wantage Cottage Hospital management committee and it was to him that the triannual hospital carnivals in the 1930s owed their success.

John was also much involved in the activities of Wantage Town Football Club.

John's widow Agnes, ran the newsagents and stationers after his death, with Mr Wally Mayo and Miss Doris Higgs who continued the business after Agnes’s death.

Many will remember Wally Mayo from his service with Wantage Fire Brigade.

The printing side of the business was carried on by John Norman Nichols who with his son Peter took over the printing business of Mr A V Gibbs at 15, Mill Street where most of the printing requirements for local businesses and organisations were cater for including King Alfred’s School yearbooks, parish magazines etc.

The works here provided jobs for 12 people until the business here ended in the early 1960s.

The newsagents in the Market Place continued until the late 1970s when it was eventually replaced by Dewhursts the butchers.