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During the 1600s the building was known as the Corner House, then in about 1700 it became the Greyhound Inn, with barns and stables. In about 1750 it was renamed the Angel Inn.

The late Gerald Palmer (born in 1910) lived nearby and described it as “Rather a rough public house called ‘The Angel’. The kind of public house that you’d hear singing coming out of at night.”

However in 1926 the Angel was demolished. The main motive was probably to widen Maldon Road. So Central Buildings, which replaced it, was much narrower. It was tall, though, and must have seemed very prominent when it was first built.

One of its first tenants was the tax inspector with his staff. Their office was upstairs and they used the Maldon Road entrance. They were something of an innovation, because previously the work had been done by non-specialist individuals like solicitors.

There was also the office of the East Anglian Electricity Supply Company. It was just entering the market for supplying light and power to Witham, after decades of problems. Previously Witham had relied for about a hundred years on its own gas supply, run by local people,

Another of the first occupants was the butcher’s shop of the London Meat Company, facing Newland Street. Its initials can still be seen in the tiles at the shop entrance. Another distinction is the original Crittall’s metal and glass door, of which there is another on the corner shop next door. In addition there is an unusual spread of decorative ironwork inside the top of the windows. The Braintree & Witham Times reported in 1972 that Witham Council rejected a planning application for a modern façade as it would be ‘completely out of character’.

On the Maldon Road side, The East Anglian Electricity Supply Company had the shop from 1927 – 1934, followed by Dolling and Son, Newsagent, and it continued to be a newsagent until Gallants took over this part in 1976. Mick Horsely is quoted in Witham Voices ‘At the corner of Maldon Road the Gallant family started an Army Surplus store just after the war. They were eager for a sale and you could always strike a bargain with the elder Mr Gallant, whose wife was not from England’. They survived until 1996 since when a number of businesses have since occupied the shop including The Childrens Society, Bits (Miscellaneous goods), and two mobile telephone businesses. Then Omii’s Ladies Fashions from was there from 2009 and 7to7 Solutions from 2013.

On the Newland Street side following the London Central Meat Company in 1948 were Gallants also this side until around 1996 when The Childrens Society, also held this side until 1997. Bits spread into here for a short time and was followed by another Charity Shop until 1999, then came the current occupier Rag, Tag and Bobtail.

Sources: Janet Gyford; Mary Flynn & Diane Watson (Witham Voices); Braintree & Witham Times; Cyril Taylor; and Witham & Countryside Society

Text and Photographs: John Palombi and Cyril Taylor unless otherwise accredited. Illustrations: John Finch and Julie & John Denney. Translations: Google.com. Original Concept: Joy Vaughan, Witham Town Centre Strategy Group. Narration: John Rhodes
 

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