Tribute: Peter Nicholls

  |  Published: Mar 1st 2010

Peter Nicholls was born in Epsom in 1922. The youngest son of Herbert Ernest Nicholls, after whom he was named. His father was a grocer all his working life, apart from serving in the army during the Great War.

Peter won a scholarship to the Grammar School but became disenchanted with that after a while as much emphasis was placed on sport which he loathed. When asked by his parents if he was happy there and wanted to continue he said no and he happily returned to the council school where he felt he learned more and also became head prefect.

At the age of 14 he left school to work full time in the family business, the family moving from business to business as his father's talents flourished. Eventually in 1946 his father bought the business in Wendover from a Mr Seago. After Peter was demobbed from the army in 1946 he worked in the other family shop in Aston Clinton until moving to Wendover in 1953 and from then on managing the shop there whilst his brother moved back to Aston Clinton.

During his long association with Wendover he was a founder member of the Art Club also a joint founder of the current Spiritualist Church in Aylesbury. He had a keen interest in the Music Club, Choral Society, Wendover Society and became very involved with the Halton Singers for whom he made and painted the scenery for their twice yearly productions, something for which he had a definite flair and he thoroughly enjoyed.

During the 1960's and 70's he was a keen follower of the ballet at Covent Garden when Margot Fonteyn & Rudolf Nureyev danced together. Latterly he joined the Theatre Club to which he attended most of the shows they featured in London and other venues.

Most people in Wendover would remember Peter as the manager of Nicholls Stores on the Corner of Dobbins Lane and Pound Street where he worked with his sister Joan and her husband Jim Dunnett and his nephew Peter. The shop was well known in the area as purveyors of good quality groceries and provisions and delicatessen. Amongst the many well known families and a smattering of celebrities the shop served Chequers, the country retreat of the Prime Minister. Nicholls Stores had served every one from Winston Churchill up to John Major. The only one to visit the store personally, however, was Margaret Thatcher, who came in one Monday to thank the staff for their service and talked to everyone in the shop at that time which rapidly filled up as news of her presence swept around the town. She purchased a gammon joint to take back to Downing Street and enquired of Mr Nicholls how he cooked and prepared the ham on sale in the shop. After listening intently at what Peter told her, she announced "That's very interesting, but I think I will do it my way".

After the sale of Nicholls Stores in 1994, Peter was in much demand giving talks to many Women's Institutes and other organisations in the county on his extremely humorous experiences as a grocer. He also did talks on stage set design, Old Wendover, The Halton Railway and The Wendover Branch of the Grand Union Canal among others.

Unfortunately, during 2008, Peter had an accident where he fell over the uneven footpath in Dobbins Lane resulting in a broken hip. He never entirely recovered from this and his mobility was severely impaired but he was determined to go out for a walk every day with his walking frame. He died in January 2010.

He will be sadly missed by family and friends.

peter nicholls
Peter Nicholls
store 1
store 2
store 3
The photos above show Nicholls Stores at 2 Pound Street
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