Let's start with pubs and then go on to the shops; Feltwell was really like a small town and you could buy everything you needed here; I'm talking about 80 years ago. First there was the Ship Inn on the Southery road, an old wooden building part of which is still there. The Plough stood between RAF and Blackdyke and is now demolished, then there was the Elm and the Butcher's Arms which was this house. (The house is the premises opposite the Central Garage previously Mr Vincent's hardware shop.) The Chequers was thatched in those days; there was also the Crown, the Oak and the Cock which stood at the entrance to Mulberry Close. People never went out of the village so it was reasonable that there were so many pubs! There were only two or three cars, and most of us hardly knew the next village existed.
The main two shops were Broadwaters, which was in Londis, and Barley P. Porter in the Wine Lodge. The saddler was in the house opposite the Wine Lodge; a little shop with a big business! The harvest was all done by horse then and the saddler would be at work at 4am in the summer, making covers for the binders, stuffing collars with straw and repairing harnesses and straps that had broken the previous day and were needed immediately. They laid the straps and reins all along the street and it was a wonderful sight. The saddler, Mr Steward, died suddenly of a brain tumour and Mrs Steward, who was expecting a child, got a young man to help with the business called George Goodman. He's over 90 now and I still write to him, although he phones me back because he's blind. Eventually Mrs Steward turned the shop into "The Blue Cafe", which was very popular as there were over 1000 WAAF's here. All the air crews had to have bicycles to get to their planes which were spread out to avoid attack. All the WAAF's had bikes too and that was how the Vincent bicycle business started. I think the RAF station helped Feltwell to get services like water and sewage; it advanced us more than other villages.
The Spar shop was the butcher, it still is of course but the greengrocers shop was the Methodist chapel. There were two cobblers. Mr Willett and Mr Upcraft. Upcraft also delivered the telegrams for the post office, and he didn't have a bike, so no sooner had he left cobbling and run off with one telegram, than, another would be waiting when he got back and off he'd go again! It didn't help his business much. There was a baker next to Londis and it was a great spectacle for us boys when the flour was delivered to the granary next door in a steam wagon. There were two banks in Feltwell; one was run by Miss Alice Spencer in Hill Street; she was Clerk to the Parish Council and ran a clothing club were you could deposit sixpence at a time. Very necessary, for village people didn't have much money at that time. Barley P. Porter had a packman who would ask what you wanted and bring it the next week; you could pay a bit at the time like a catalogue today. The other bank was next to Watermans on the north side. Very few people went in there.; a man stood outside and let one person in at a time, so that all your business was private. Now everyone queues up together and hears everything!
Back to Times Remembered