By in History

Havens Celebrating 110 Years 1901 to 2011 and still Going Strong!

Havens Store Westcliff circa 1920
Havens Store Westcliff circa 1920


Havens has traded in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff-on-Sea for 110 years. Established in 1901 by Rawdon Havens the business has seen 2 world wars and many changes and the ups and downs in retailing over the years.

The company is still very much a family business,  Graham Havens  the founders grandson and his two sons Nigel and Paul the owners and directors.

The original store was set up almost opposite the current site in 1901. Rawdon gave up a brewing career in Staffordshire to seek the fresh air of the seaside to help a breathing condition.

It did not take him long to find a shop in Hamlet Court Road which he set up selling fine china, glass and gifts. In this period tea and wine drinking was becoming more popular and not just confined to the gentry, so it was always going to be a growing business.

By 1920 the business had outgrown the original premises and the freehold of the shop across the road became available. By this time Rawdon had been joined by his eldest son Rawdon Junior and daughter Florence. The business continued to expand and Edward Havens was encouraged to join the business.

Rawdon senior retired in 1922 leaving the business in the capable hands of his 3 Children.

In 1927 at the age of 31 Rawdon Junior died following an operation for appendicitis and in 1935 Rawdon Senior and his wife Ellen Rabnott die within days of each other leaving Edward and his sister to run the business which continued to flourish under their leadership.

Edward had his father’s instinct and wanted to develop the business even further. He put in plans to add 2 additional floors and by the end of 1935 realised his dream and the store as it stands today was created. The finest local architect, craftsmen and builders were used and the store today is testament to their skill as many of the art- deco features are still in very functional order.

Havens Department Store, Westcliff on Sea circa 1935
Havens Department Store, Westcliff on Sea circa 1935

During the 1950’s Graham Havens joined his father and continued to expand and develop the business. In 1978 Paul Havens joined his father, followed by Nigel Havens in 1981 following a Retail Management training course with the John Lewis Partnership.

Since then Havens has continued to adapt and change to the ever evolving retail landscape. New departments have been opened and different opportunities developed.

The major change has been the advent of internet shopping. Fortunately Havens saw this coming early and their website was set up in 1990. Today it forms a significant part of the business with customers in the UK and worldwide buying the quality brands stocked.

The Havens mission is to sell quality Branded products in not just China, Glassware ,Housewares and Giftware but also in Jewellery, Perfumes and Cosmetics .The search for new brands and product categories is always ongoing.

The other constant is the level of expertise and service given to each and every customer both in the store and online. Today these values are often overlooked by Retailers, particularly online where there is the mistaken belief that the consumer is at arms length. The reality is they are only a click away from going elsewhere.

Havens also run a successful Corporate gift business principally looking after Company Long Service Award gift presentations.

The key to the continued success of the business is to constantly look to change and meet new demands. Rest assured that Havens will continue to make the changes required and rise to the challenges and look forward to more anniversaries.

To celebrate this momentous occasion Havens is having an Open Evening on Thursday 17th November 2011 3.00pm to 9.00pm.

You are more than welcome to join us and we look forward to seeing you and your family and friends.