It’s the end of an era, as the last shop on Beveridge Street, W.H.Graham & Son, has closed. I had an interesting talk with Philip Graham, whose family business has been on this site for four generations. A farm originally stood where the shop stands now and the chestnut trees stand where the farm house was. Behind the house was a huge, magnificent, granite-built barn with a graduated Swithland slate roof. Sadly it was demolished because at the time it was too costly to convert it into living accommodation.
Philip’s great grandfather owned a builders’ business called Ball and Sons and Squires. The barn was their machine shop and the original cowshed was their carpentry shop which became Philip’s workshop. The firm did a lot of building work within the village and also built most of John Ellis’s workshops.
The next generation of Grahams – Philip’s grandfather - split from Squires and continued as a jobbing builder and carpenter around the village. One of the carpentry jobs was to build coffins and Philip, as a young boy, used to line the coffins with white satin. He can still remember the smell of the hoof-and-rattail glue that used to bubble away all day on the stove.
Philip’s father worked with the firm until the beginning of the war, when he joined the RAF and used his love of anything electrical, honing his skills by working on transmitters. In 1949 he opened the shop, selling and repairing anything electrical. Around 1951 he sold what must have been one of the first TVs in the village to a Mr Arthur Morgan; it was a 9” Bush and one of these could still be seen in the shop until its recent closure. Philip joined his father as soon as he was able and between them, they have served the village for seventy-two years, Philip having been there for sixty years: a remarkable achievement. He has seen many changes in his time at the shop, from topping up accumulators with sulphuric acid, to selling the latest DAB radios and smart TVs.
Philip would like to take this opportunity to thank all of his loyal customers for their support over many years. I, in my turn, would like to thank Philip for all the above information and wish him well in his retirement.
Over the years there has been a variety of shops in Beveridge Street.
Number 4a, one of the oldest buildings in the village, has a rich history of different types of shops operating from it. In the 19th and 20th centuries this was a butcher’s shop run by Mr Lockwood - the slaughter house was behind the shop. He delivered the meat by horse and cart; the tale goes that he had a pint at each house, and that it was a good thing that the horse knew its way home!
In the 1940s Betty Bunny ran a hairdressing business there. At another time, saddles and riding lessons could be purchased at the shop. The lessons were in the garden of number four, which at that time stretched behind number six.
Later it became an antiques’ shop and there was also Penny Wise, selling riding clothes and tack and later still, I can remember Mr. Morgan the shoe repairer being there. Eventually, number 4a was turned into residential use in the 1970s.
In 1910 the co-op was at number thirty-five and was one of the largest shops in the village. One of the three cottages near the Baptist church was, at one time, a blacksmith’s.
On the corner of Beveridge Street and Melton Road was Mrs Maile’s haberdashery shop, an Aladdin’s cave of anything you needed in that line: from babies’ bonnets to the other end of the scale (no pun intended), ladies’ knickers.
Those were the days.