WHEN Basingstoke Shopping Centre was officially opened in November 1968, a family business was preparing to open its newest shop.

Lasletts Linens was formed in 1966 by Ralph Laslett with his sons Melvyn and David.

Lasletts Family Outfitters was started in Fleet in 1907 by Samuel Gilbert, the father of Ralph.

The shop moved to Aldershot in 1923, before rebranding as Lasletts Linens in 1966.

Spotting that the new Basingstoke town centre was to open in 1968, the business expanded and opened a new shop.

Ralph Laslett retired in 1970 so David and brother Melvyn took over running of the shop.

David recalls memories of his time in the town.

He said: “During the time of the I’m Backing Britain campaign in the late seventies, one gentleman came in to purchase some towels.

“He asked where they were made and when I told him they came from India, Portugal, America, Israel to name but a few, he started ranting about buying British and refused to buy anything and proceeded to lecture me, whereupon he pulled out his hanky to wipe his brow.

“His car keys fell on the counter and I then asked him what car he drove.

“I had noticed a Mercedes key ring.

“He flustered and then decided to buy some of the towels after all.”

Another memory David recollects was the time of the miner’s strike when there was electricity alternate mornings and afternoons.

He added: “We had tilly lamps to light the shop so we could open longer hours. Health and safety wouldn’t allow that these days.”

After 21 years in Basingstoke, Melvyn and David could not agree a reasonable rent with the centre management and the shop closed in 1990.

David has now retired and lives with his wife Carol in Bristol.