New Community Centre now open
Samuel Wickens was born in 1907 and worked in Barclays Bank before and after WWII, during the war years serving in the RAF as a Squadron Leader. He left the Bank in 1952 to start his development company helped by his wife Betty, along the way acquiring a building company to ensure the quality of the finished developments. He and Betty lived in Rustington with their three children but died unexpectedly in 1972 aged 65. Both he and Betty are buried in St Peter & St Paul churchyard in the village.
Samuel started developing in Rustington in the mid 1950’s. His first purchase was the fields spreading down from Rustington to the sea where he built new retirement bungalows on what became known as the Broadmark Estate. Roger, his son - then aged 10 - vividly remembers walking around the corn fields holding the end of a tape measure helping to plot them up.
In 1955 his company bought what was then a field on the corner of The Street and Ash Lane. At the time it had planning permission for a cinema, but instead he developed a parade of shops with Barclays Bank at its west end. Unusually for its time, he laid it out with car parking along the frontage.
In 1960 the pony paddock land opposite became available at auction and his company, now called Store Property, purchased that and developed the South Side of The Street parade of shops with flats over, again with car parking.
Soon afterwards Store acquired the four large houses fronting The Street that Churchill Parade now stands on. This 1965 shopping parade development and its car park, anchored by Woolworths, Keymarkets, and a number of other well known multiples, established the Rustington Shopping Centre serving the growing population of Rustington and adjacent villages.
In the early 1960’s his company also acquired Church Farm Nursery, and he developed this into the unique Church Farm Garden Estate with its garden squares and traffic free environment - concepts accepted now but at the time regarded as cutting edge for rural Sussex.
By 1970 Rustington Centre needed more car parking and Store was able to acquire ‘Marters Nursery’ behind Broadmark Parade. His son Roger was now working with him. A new supermarket was built for Keymarkets on the Broadmark Lane frontage, and a 250 space car park was created to serve this foodstore and the wider Rustington Shopping Centre.
Land in the car park was donated to West Sussex County Council to build what became the WRVS centre specifically to benefit the older residents of the Village. Some 45 years later in 2016 Store refurbished the same supermarket for use by Waitrose. The WRVS centre became redundant around the same time and is now getting a new lease of life from Store Property, to become a modern community centre for use and enjoyment by all members of the Village Community.
Rustington Shopping Centre is still predominately owned and actively managed by Store Property, run since 1972 by Roger and now by his daughter Sarah, maintaining an unbroken 62 year involvement since the first shopping parade development by Samuel.