WITH the tides of time having changed the shape of Carlisle's Botchergate, one institution remains firm as it celebrates its ninetieth anniversary this year.

As one of the two longest-standing establishments on the street, Whiteheads, a biking and motoring goods store, has had a presence on the street since 1934. 

Whiteheads, officially K Whitehead & Son, was established by Kathleen Whitehead and her husband who worked on the railways at the time. 

Today the legacy is carried on by their grandsons, Paul and David Whitehead, with the help of long-standing staff member Alan Evans. 

News and Star: K. Whitehead & Son pictured in the early 60s. K. Whitehead & Son pictured in the early 60s. (Image: Paul Whitehead)


Paul, having started his career in 1970 as a 'Saturday boy', moved into full-time work by 1975 after leaving school, a role he affectionately referred to as a 'love.'

"Botchergate, you could get anything you wanted in the 70s," Paul said. 

"You could buy a car, couch, TV, butchers, pubs - everything you could want was on that street.

"On a Saturday, you couldn't see the pavement for people. You had Daltons, the auction on a Saturday morning, two picture houses, supermarkets - there's been big changes on the street nowadays. 

"And now, apart from charity shops and barbershops,  there's probably only two traditional retail shops remaining us and Palace Cycles," he said. 

 Yet, as times have changed, so too has the shopping landscape for Whiteheads. 

"In the 70s we had choppers and then with its demise we had the BMX boom in the 80s. We opened a shop in Penrith at the time on the back of it.

"But, things have changed a lot since the internet.

"You just have to go into the town centre now, on a Saturday there's hardly anyone walking around when years ago it was the busiest shopping day.

"Monday can be a busier day than a Saturday now - people's leisure and shopping habits have changed," Paul said. 

News and Star: Paul Whitehead pictured in 2013. Paul Whitehead pictured in 2013. (Image: Paul Whitehead)


The retailer indicated that the industry at large is going through a difficult period on the back of Covid, with many 'major players going bust'. 

"I think what's happened is we were all that busy during Covid, people thought it would carry on. I think there's been a bit of overtrading," he said. 

Despite this, Whiteheads remains steadfast in its key strengths. 

"You've got to trade on what you're good at, good customer service.

"You can't exactly get your bike repaired online, people buy from Amazon but they don't realise the afterservice isn't there. 

"We trade on our service," he said. 

In line with the shop's historic milestone, they seek to offer deals going ahead throughout the year. 

You can visit www.whiteheads.biz for all cycling and motor-related products.