Humshaugh Village Shop

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We’re having an official opening ceremony for the refurbished shop at 11.30am on Saturday August 7th 2010. You’re all invited to come along for a brief ribbon cutting ceremony. It will be performed by Mr Graham Wylie, who has been so supportive of the project from the beginning. By the time the midday bus arrives we hope to have adjourned to The Crown for refreshments and a few informal speeches.

It may have been a few days late but it was well worth the wait. The new shop opened its doors for business on Wednesday morning (June 9th) and what a transformation there’s been. If you haven’t seen it yet then make sure you come along soon. The new shop is more spacious – there’s plenty of room to have a natter. It’s self-service so pick up a basket and take your time to browse and then pay at the counter at the back of the shop. It’s lighter and brighter thanks to the various shades of pale green and the huge array of lights that would put Blackpool to shame. It looks familiar even though the layout’s changed, a lot of the original features have been retained – the tongue and groove panelling, the mahogany counter tops, brass yardsticks and the ceiling hooks from when it was a draper’s. It smells nice – and we’re not just talking fresh paint but freshly baked bread and croissants too. There’s a new oven behind the counter which is big enough to swallow full-size baguettes sideways. The volunteers are the same although there will be some new faces behind the counter in the near future. We’re always on the lookout for fresh talent.

 We are planning to have an official opening ceremony in the not too distant future. It’ll be an opportunity to mark this important milestone and to say a big thank you to the hoards of people who’ve helped bring it all to fruition. It’s been an inspiring team effort.

The long wait for the new village shop will soon be over. We hope that the final electrical work will be finished by the weekend of the Church Fete – June 5th and 6th – and that stocking the shelves will follow on Monday and Tuesday. We had hoped to be open for business after two and a half weeks but electrician Ray Blanckley’s thumb had a nasty argument with a brand new and very sharp folding knife. Ray was stiitched back together and given antibiotics but he had to call in extra help in order to finish off the remaining work. That all put things back by half a week.

We’re sure you’ll agree the wait will have been worth it. The new sign board has been put up and a new fridge and freezer are in and running. It won’t be long now.

The refitting of the shop is underway and we have moved temporarily to the back room of The Crown Inn. The opening hours will be exactly the same – see Opening Times. We hope our bright, new, self-service shop will be open just after the Bank Holiday weekend. There’s an artist’s impression of the new store in the shop window. Please note that the shop phone number will be out of action during the makeover.

The more observant of you will have noticed that the large cracks in the left hand window have gone. The plate glass was replaced earlier this month. It may surprise you to know that there are some people in the village who hadn’t even noticed the damage in the first place despite the fact that it’s been in that state for at least 38 years! Dorothy Wilson remembers the crack being there when she took over the Post Office in 1972. So we’d love to know when it was broken and better still who broke it all those years ago. If the culprit confesses he or she could get off lightly with a spot of community service … in the shop.

At long last we have some dates for the re-fitting of the shop. Work will begin on Monday May 10th and will last until the end of the month but the shop won’t move to its temporary home at The Crown until Friday May 14th.

Apart from the uncertainty over the Post Office counter the delay has been increased by the transfer of the lease. It was finally assigned to us towards the end of March – nearly five months after we took over from Pat and Rob.

Andy Roberts is putting the finishing touches to the drawings and checking that all the work complies with building regulations and then the tradesmen, whose services have been very kindly donated by Graham Wylie, will start building the units prior to the re-fit. We are trying to keep the disruption to a minimum so on May 10th work will begin on the ceiling in the afternoons when the shop is shut. After the stock has been moved out on Friday the 14th it’s estimated it will take 2-3 days to strip everything out. Four days have been set aside for the laying of the new floor so that will take us to Friday the 21st. The next day the fitting out is due to start and that is likely to take a week. Marie Roberts will be the project manager and Ray Blanckley will be looking after the electrical side of things.

The Crown

 As many of you know, the future of The Crown has become less certain after last orders on Sunday February 28th. But don’t worry, Humshaugh Community Ventures Limited, which runs the shop, has stepped into the breach. On Wednesday night (March 3rd) the directors took over the pub after signing a temporary lease while a new owner is found to buy it from Punch Taverns. The landlady is Jayne Walsham who, as many of you will remember, ran The Crown for nearly 7 years in the nineties. With Easter only a month away we wanted to make sure that the pub remains a bustling hub of the community while it waits for a permanent owner, whoever that might be. See The Journal and Hexham Courant  March stories.

Bad news about the Post Office. The mobile service will continue and we won’t be getting a counter in the shop. Post Office Limited have decided, after a review their services in the area, that the weekday lunchtime van will continue. Ironically they are also proposing that the van should call at Simonburn. If you remember that was our nearest permanent Post Office when the Humshaugh closure was announced in July 2008. Very controversially Simonburn has been “temporarily closed” since then and now it looks likely to suffer the same fate as ours although villagers may get fewer visits from the van than we do.

Post Office Limited’s Network Development Manager Jane Briginshaw said in her response to our request for a partner service in Humshaugh Village Shop: “I have made the decision to retain the current arrangement, with the mobile Post Office counter service continuing to provide a weekday daily service to Humshaugh. We will shortly be going into public consultation to propose some limited changes to the current timetable on the Stocksfield mobile route to incorporate a service point for Simonburn, and also one at Mickley Square. Althought the Post Office service will not operate from within the shop, I believe its presence in the community each weekday provides residents with access to services, which they might otherwise leafve the village for. I hope as a result the two services can be complimentary within the village.”

We had also asked for changes in the times of the mobile service, possibly to include Saturdays. That request has been rejected too. The Post Office says it will continue to look at whether changes could be made in the future.

Click on “Post Office?” in the Page Menu for the background to the story.