Memories of some of Alphington's Shops
By Philip Miller
At the bottom was a small field where Mr. Tout kept his pony 'Peggy'. Mr. Tout and Peggy delivered vegetables door to door around the village and further afield as far as Kennford.
Mr. Ashleigh's shop, the first property on the right was pretty well our sole source of supply for groceries, that is where our ration book was lodged. As a boy I was intrigued by Mr. Ashleigh's wonderful bacon slicer that took up most of the counter space. No packets of bacon wrapped in plastic in fact no plastic at all. Groceries were bought loose then weighed on the scales and put into paper bags. We had no need for everything in plastic, why would we and we survived!!
The shop has long since been a private home. The shop door has been replaced by a window as has the shop window otherwise the exterior looks much as it did in the 1940's.
The post office was situated on the left. I remember it being run by Mrs. Budd in the late 40's and later by Mr. Budd. It housed the only public telephone that I can recall at our end of the village. The phone was just inside the shop door so no privacy. It was a mecca for local gossip.
As a schoolboy I had a Saturday job with Mr. Carr the Baker and each Saturday morning I delivered bread on a delivery bike like the one in 'open all hours'. It was far too big for me but the bread reached the destination and I collected the money, 6½d (about 2.5p). I was paid 9d per hour (3.75p).
My favourite Alphington shop was the newsagent run by Mr. & Mrs. Cox, next door to the Bakery. That is where I collected my Meccano Magazine and Boys Own Paper.
Memories of some of Alphington's Shops
By Edward Gigg
Whilst I come from the top end of the village, there are on or two memories I have of Cross View etc. (1940's and 50's). I, too, as a small child, remember Mr Budd running the post office. My abiding memory is that he was sat on a stool behind the counter, wreathed in smoke from his pipe, the smell of which was the inherent smell of the Post Office as far as I was concerned. As in all post offices, it was the loud smack of the stamp with which they used to stamp Postal orders, pension books or whatever. I was fascinated as to how they always manage to get the stamp into the circle with some accuracy.
When Mr Budd gave up, and before the PO moved to its present position, it was taken over by a family named Varney. I am not sure if the whole family ran it, but the shop was always looked after by the son , John Varney. They actually lived in one of the terrace cottages, in Church Rd. just a few up from Chapel Lane. I think the Post Office was still in Cross View when we left the village in about 1966. My Mother-in-law Edna (known as Pat) Melhuish worked there as a post office clerk. This was after she was widowed. She worked for Mr Budd and continued for a while under the Varney's ownership.
In respect of the other shop in Cross View run by Mr Ashley when he gave up, it was taken over by Bill and Ivy Bond. They became friends with Pat and Jack Melhuish. Jack died and subsequently so did Ivy Bond. Billy (as he was known to the family) and Pat remained friends and eventually married, and ran the shop together. I used to help out in the shop, usually on a Saturday afternoon. I particularly remember that he used to sell loose potatoes and paraffin. These were stored in a shed in the back yard, so if anyone wanted these items you had to leave the shop unattended whilst you went out the back. It occurs to me that you wouldn't dare do that today. My other recollection is having to add up the prices manually, usually on a paper bag or something. There wasn't a till with a built in calculator!
Then there was the time of the Flood. Billy had been redecorating upstairs and had left the window open to help dry the paint on the window cill. When he realised it had been raining he went upstairs to close the window and noticed some drops of water on his new paintwork. Whilst trying to dab it off, he looked down to see the back yard rapidly filling up with water. After a rapid dash back to the shop, it was to realise that the water was now coming in at the front, almost too late to elevate a lot of the stock. When my wife Barbara and I arrived to lend a hand, it was to find packets of biscuits, (Rich Tea I think) floating around the ground floor. We stayed for a couple of nights to help clear up after the water had subsided. Obviously the shop closed for a short while, but still managed to serve the 'side door knockers' as Billy called them. Probably that would be illegal now, due to health and safety etc. but that is what village life was always about, - helping each other.
When I was growing up there was an Electrical shop of some sort in Chudleigh Road. They also used to charge what was known as 'Accumulators' for wireless sets and I think probably do repairs as well. You could buy flash lamp bulbs etc in there. I am not sure about this but the name Bowden is in my mind. This shop subsequently became the first Chemist shop in the village run by Walter (Punchy) Edwards. A bit further down was Oakes's shop. When they retired it was taken over by Joyce and Ken Wynne. The people in the shop next door were called Vaughan-West. This shop was also taken over by a couple with their son, but I cannot recall their name. I know the lad was in the Scouts when I was Scoutmaster.
Just one other anecdote. It relates to the filling station in Church Rd. It was run by a family called Arthurs (not sure of the spelling.) In their little shop you could buy boiled sweets, loose from the jar, and they would wrap then in a twist of Newspaper, usually with bare hands immediately after serving petrol etc. So firstly there was a sort of oily aroma, apparent just before the sweets got a bit sticky in your pocket and stuck to the newspaper.
I am most grateful to the members for allowing me to publish their wonderful memories of Alphington, thank you so much.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick