Hempstead Valley Shopping centre (aka Savacentre) near Gillingham Kent was constructed in the late 1970s just outside the village of Hempstead. It opened on 17th October 1978 so has celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2008. These photos showing the construction of Hempstead Valley were kindly sent by Chris Shade. You can see the large sign showing the original name of Savacentre. A current photo of Savacentre is shown on the Hempstead Valley website

There is currently (2010) a proposal to redevelop the Hempstead Valley shopping centre to modernise areas of it. You can view the proposal on the Hempstead Valley website here When it is completed in 2015 it will make a huge difference to the appeal of the centre as a shopping destination.

What may seem commonplace now was groundbreaking in 1978 as there were very few other out of town shopping centres of this size at the time. Hempstead Valley was the second Savacentre (Washington Tyne & Wear opened in 1977). At the time of opening Savacentre was one of the largest out of town shopping centres in the South East. The original Picnic Parlour was the first Food Court in the UK. You can see more info about Sainsburys Savacentre here

When originally opened the main shop was Sainsburys Savacentre, the brand they originally created for their large hypermarkets. At the time Sainsburys was by far the largest supermarket in the UK with Tesco trailing far behind – a far cry from the current situation with Tesco leading the field. The originally Hempstead Valley offered 250,000 square feet of shopping space but when the centre was redeveloped in the early 1990s with an extension and new shops like M&S being added, this was increased to 330,000 square feet.

The challenge is to remember all the original shops that were there when the centre opens….Sainsburys, Presto (which then became Safeway) - but which others?
So far the following shops have been suggested for the original opening

NSS (Newsagents) then became Forbuoys
Our Price
Post Office (not one of the original shops)
Sainsburys Savacentre
Thomas Cook
Presto Supermarket
Wimpy Burger Bar

Later additions when the extension was added in early 1990s were WHSmith, Marks & Spencer.

Notice in the aerial shot the area to the bottom right which was developed for large housing estates shortly after the shot was taken.

Photos on this page are clickable to view higher resolution versions.


  • Savacentre, Photos of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978:Looking towards Savacentre Hempstead Valley from roundaboutLooking towards Savacentre Hempstead Valley from roundabout
    Petrol station would be to middle right of photo
  • Photos of Savacentre Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978:Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted WayLooking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way
    Underground car park to right of shot, Abbey to left of shot
  • Photos of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1978Looking towards Hempstead Valley from roundabout
    Petrol station would be to middle right of photo
  • Photos of Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre 1978: Looking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted WayLooking towards Hempstead Valley from Sharsted Way
    Underground car park to right of shot, Abbey to left of shot
  • Aerial photo of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1978Aerial photo of Hempstead Valley Savacentre 1980
    Sharsted Way runs along left hand side of photo

Greens of Rainham/Medway Mercedes


Greens of Rainham was one of the main car dealers in Rainham on the same site as Medway Mercedes and Texaco garage. It closed in December 2008 and the site has been empty since then.

Blog article about Greens of Rainham closing

It has been announced that Greens of Rainham, the Vauxhall car dealer has been placed in administration. The Greens showrooms in Rainham and Snodland have been empty for several months so the confirmation was no great surprise locally. Sadly some 70 Greens of Rainham employees lost their jobs having been left in limbo since December when they were last paid but without being given any information until now about the fate of the company.

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Medway Mercedes/Medway Autos/Texaco Garage Rainham

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Photo of Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Photo of Greens of Rainham, former Vauxhall Dealer on A2 London Road, July 2010

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Price of Petrol Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer
Price of Petrol when Greens of Rainham closed

Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Greens of Rainham showroom interior, July 2010

Medway Mercedes, Greens of Rainham Vauxhall Dealer

Medway Mercedes/Medway Autos

This news would appear to confirm the depth and severity of the current recession by claiming a dealership that has successfully survived many previous recessions and downturns.

[information from Medway Messenger]


The Bargain House came to Rainham in 1924. 

Mr Bays, the grandfather of Jonathan Baynes who now manages the Gillingham shop in King Street, came to Gillingham in 1910 and opened his first shop in Burnt Oak Terrace. The move to Rainham expanded the business and replaced a similar shop on this site owned by G. Hooker. The Bargain House was quite a feature in pre-war Rainham having a prominent position in the centre of the village. The building was far from attractive – the roof was corrugated iron – but it was one of the most useful places. The shop stocked a whole range of hardware, it had wicker baskets hanging outside and tin buckets and baths full of blocks of soap and packets inside. One Rainham girl, Miss Betty Fullager, started as an assistant in the shop at the top of Station Road on leaving school in 1926 aged 14 and stayed with the same business all her working life transferring to Gillingham when The Bargain House closed and only retiring from the King Street shop in the late 1970s. Betty Fullager was better known to her contemporaries as Sugar Fullager, the nickname given to her when she first joined I st Rainham Guides. The shop prospered in Rainham, only closing when the land was purchased by Barclays Bank to build their grand new building in 1936.

The Bargain House Rainham

by Freddie Cooper Aug 2004

The announcement that the Boundary Commission has recommended that the Parliamentary Constituency of Rainham will, after the next General Election, be known as Gillingham and Rainham will give Rainham its long overdue recognition and be welcomed by many residents.

Gillingham Borough Council embraced the area administered previously by Rainham Parish Council from 1st April 1929 under an extension of the Boundary Act 1928. That covered an area from the River to Bredhurst and from South Bush Lane to the back garden fences of the houses on the western side of Edwin Road, up through Springvale towards Bredhurst on a line which now would pass through the Church land in Drewery Drive.

Rainham had previously been on the extremity of the western boundary of Milton Regis Urban District Council and part of the Parliamentary Division of attachments were to the east and Rainham news was reported in the 'East Kent Gazette' and 'Kent Messenger'. From 1906 until 1926 we had tram connections to the Medway Towns but through history we had been Men and Maids of Kent whereas Gillingham residents were Kentish Men. It is clear to me that the Municipal and Parliamentary boundary previously referred to, rather than the River Medway, was the actual boundary between the ancient Kingdoms of East and West Kent.

Seventy-five years ago Gillingham wanted room to expand now it is estimated that Rainham has half the population of its previous parent borough.
Mr Clark says that he hopes that the ancient enmity between the two halves of the borough will now cease but I fear that this is unlikely to be realised whilst those on the eastern extremity feel that, despite all the endeavours of their representatives, they are `the forgotten outpost of the new Empire'. It was always thus even when Gillingham Council were our masters except when two of its most senior officers lived with us, we got quite a lot done in those few years, including Cozenton Park! Although I accept that members determine the level of rate income I believe that Officers mainly decide the priority of expenditure and I can only hope that with Parliamentary recognition, they will now realise that a very significant number of ratepayers live in the `Outpost'.

I am sure that Mr Paul Clark, MP, had parental encouragement to include Rainham within the Constituency's name for many of his ancestors rest within the Parish. I knew all those back until his maternal great grandparents, Mr and Mrs Alfred Thomas Warner, who lived in Lime Kiln Cottage, an old bungalow adjacent to his wood yard in Maidstone Road (then Bredhurst Lane) between Harvey and Nursery Roads.

Freddie Cooper



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