IF you had walked down Winchester High Street before World War Two you would have passed Sainsbury's, Boots, WH Smith.

Now if you walk down the High Street and the immediate side streets you will still pass those three.

The High Street has changed but then it has always been changing. The last butcher Dewhurst closed in the late 1980s although Baynhams had a short spell further up the High Street at the Southgate Street junction early this millennium. Taylors the greengrocer also lasted just into the 21st century next to Pizza Express on Bridge Street.

(Image: Newsquest)

People have always grumbled about a perceived surfeit of business types. Back in the 1980s it was building societies, then in the 1990s it was phone shops, in the  noughties it was bookies and now it is cafes and travel shops. Twenty years ago city councillors such as the late Chris Pines lamented the lack of cafes for teenagers to meet.

Doom-mongers will again pronounce the 'end of the High Street' with the decline in shops and the rise of food and drink outlets.

Recently comes news that Mooch in St George's Street, Bell Fine Art in Parchment Street and Halfords in Easton Lane are all to close. Mooch was a strange one, lasting less than a year, so clearly had a questionable business plan. Losing Halfords is a blow not least because it will encourage people to drive to its other Hampshire locations. Bell Fine Art is a real blow as that was a unique business that had been in the city for nearly 40 years and offered the individuality that places such as Winchester need.

The High Street is not dying, but it is changing. In thirty years time it will have changed again. But it will still be Winchester, the jewel in the Hampshire crown.