Village Life Then and Now: A Teaser

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Recreation Ground Pavilion, rebuilt 2009-10, previous building in place since at least the 1960s

I’ve had an idea for a few years now, to document photographically the changes that have occurred in the village where I grew up, both in recent years and over the previous century or so. I’ve put together a number of series documenting the way things are now at different times of year, but it was only in the last couple of months that I was given access to the huge collection of images stored by the village History Group. In future posts I plan to share some of those with you, and talk about how each building or road has changed since the picture was taken, but today, I plan to share some of that process in reverse.

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Village Bakery, formerly a busy butcher’s shop

The village bakery has been in this little building for some years, as evidenced by the slight fading of the sign over the window and doors, but I remember it as a butcher’s shop. It could get very crowded in there some mornings as village residents queued up to choose the best joints of meat. These days, fresh meat can be bought in the next village from a slightly larger shop, with its own little car park in front of the main door.

Many properties in the centre of the village have undergone changes in their use over the years. A few paces up the hill and on the opposite side of the road to the bakery, two residences stand on sites that previously housed businesses.

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Houses on the left stand over an old filling station, while the first of those on the right used to be a shop

A relatively recent housing development (I remember getting glared at by one of its first residents when I was visiting from university, dressed in ripped jeans, a battered leather jacket and a smart Anthony Eden hat that had been my Grandad’s — only for the incomer to be disappointed when the middle-aged shop assistant greeted me as an old friend) stands on the site of an old filling station.

Dad had to interrupt the builders to point out the location of the storage tanks from one of his old photos. In the adjoining terrace of older houses, the first used to be a greengrocer’s shop, and before that a clothing and toy shop.

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Not quite symmetrical houses (the left hand one used to be a shop)

At one time. the village had at least two sweet shops. The one in the centre of the village was housed in what was always referred to as ‘the wooden hut’ and that building is long gone. The shop at the bottom of the village still stands, but is now a home. If you look closely, and compare the fronts of the two semi-detached houses, it’s just possible to see that the window and door of the left hand one have been altered relatively recently to change the shop door (or change it back?) into part of the window.

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Derwent Hotel, now self-catering accommodation

Over the years, the number of pubs in the village has steadily declined. The Cheshire Cheese became a Post Office and then a house. The Marquis of Granby stood empty for years, and was then demolished. The Anglers Rest is now in community ownership, and houses a number of other business ventures, including the relocated Post Office. The Derwent Hotel also stood empty for a number of years, but is now rented out to large groups as self-catering accommodation, and rarely seems to be unoccupied at weekends. The bar is still intact, for guests to serve each other drinks over. Some of the visitors have been seen to join in village activities.

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War Memorial and Garden of Rememberance

Finally, one structure I want to investigate for another project, the War Memorial, stands more or in the centre of the village, adjacent to the Church of England graveyard, which includes four war graves. The Catholic Church yard at the top of the village has just one war grave. I’ll be documenting all five graves for my World War One project, along with all the other villagers named on the Memorial for that conflict.

 

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4 thoughts on “Village Life Then and Now: A Teaser

  1. This was an interesting read, Stevie. How do you feel about the changes in your village? In general, do you welcome change or do you regret it? Do you miss the structures and businesses that are no longer there, or do you feel satisfied and welcome the new ones?

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    1. Thanks. I miss the buildings that have gone forever, but I appreciate all the work that’s gone into preserving the rest by finding new uses for them. It would be good in some ways if there was enough custom to keep more businesses alive, but without change things would stagnate too.

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  2. Hi Stevie, This looks like a fascinating project and I look forward to the many more snippets you can share with us. I imagine you will spent hours looking through the History Group archives. Happy hunting.

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