The Shop

 With £25 borrowed from their mother Alice, Bert and Margaret bought a small amount of stock and opened the shop. The shop was a small building at the side of the house off Coastguard Lane. Its sloping roof and low doorway caught many a customer a crack on the head. Margaret was shopkeeper and served behind the counter.

Their first customer was their next door neighbour, Mrs Daisy Newbery of Meadow Cottage, who purchased 2lb of loose sugar. Rita Whitewood remembered the first day the shop opened: Being still at school we were keen to be the first customers, my friend and I had a few coppers and we purchased some sweets, sherbet fountains I think. From then on we always purchased our weekly shopping there. I think it amounted to about £2 for all our weekly shopping.

After that first day the shop kept Brook supplied with the essentials from 1933 to 1969. Behind the counter were fully-stocked shelves of sweets and chocolate. More glass jars of loose sweets stood next to brass weighing scales. Below the sweets was a cigarette and tobacco cupboard. Most of the stock was ‘loose’ and was weighed in strong blue paper bags which were then neatly folded and tied with string.

The shop was well-supported by the villagers and gradually Bert and Madge were able to build up their stock. Their father, Joe, grew fresh vegetables for them to sell and their range of services extended to include paraffin and later bread from Orchard Bros. at Freshwater Bay. Villagers supplemented their home grown fruit and vegetables by doing their weekly shopping at Hanover and saved themselves a fortnightly trip to Newport.

Cosy with six people at the counter, the shop had very little space. A big clock ticked away. Floor to ceiling shelves held the stock, with the non-perishables on the top under the eaves. A marble slab was used for cutting the cheese, bacon and ham and later a chest freezer arrived.

A whopping great tray of Carters’ seeds was permanently behind the low doorway. In summer, a little window was opened beneath the fig tree onto the lawn and ice creams were sold from here. Often a bird found its way in through this window.

Open from 8am until 6pm, the shop closed for an hour at lunchtime and on Thursday afternoon and Sunday. It was not unheard of for villagers to call at the back door when they had forgotten something, although this was not encouraged. Ken Barnes remembers: One thing that will always stick in my mind, was Mrs Stone’s kindness. I needed a cycle battery one Sunday morning as I worked in Freshwater and needed a light for Monday morning. When I asked Mrs Stone if I could buy one, she explained the situation, that the Sunday trading laws were very strict, but she still let me have a battery...

At holiday times villagers were a bit put out when they couldn’t get into the shop because there were so many holidaymakers. Walter Stone, Margaret’s husband, delivered groceries as far as Brighstone on a Thursday.

On Tuesdays, (Newport market day), Hanover often hung out the flag to get Shotters, the carrier, to call. It was a red flag with a yellow diagonal cross and was poked out of Bert and Gladys’ bedroom window. The carrier would buy whatever they needed in Newport and bring it back in the evening.

Hanover later offered a library service at 2d per week per book. Titles included The Upfold Farm Mystery by A. Fielding, Belinda Tries Again by Richard Starr and The Way of a Fool by Lilian Clifford.... Gripping stuff. In the late 1950s when the Hulverstone Post Office closed Margaret also opened as a post office. A 3ft square area was allocated for this beside the counter with a wire mesh surround for security. The shop contributed enormously to the village until it closed in 1969, by which time many villagers had cars and could shop in Freshwater and Newport at cheaper prices.