Village Shop and Post Office...

Village Shop & Post Office on the Green 2007
A Reading Room and Storehouse
The older part of the building which houses today's village shop is believed to date from before 1835 and may have originally been two almshouses. This is indicated by the two bricked up doorways, one at each end, along with two blocked up windows near the eaves and two more centrally placed, giving the impression that it was once a two storey dwelling. It is also believed to have been used at one time as a church paying schoolroom.

In 1889 it was used as the village Reading Room and Library where members could play dominoes and bagatelle as well as reading books and papers. It is recorded in the Parish Terrier of 1913 as the Reading Room on the Green, let to the Reading Room Committee for a yearly rent of 1/- (5p) and described as an Old Poor House erected previous to 1835. A transcript of part of the first Reading Room Annual Report in 1890 reads:-
"Beckingham Reading Room & Library Report of Committee Presented to the Annual Meeting Jany 6th 1890"

"In presenting the first Annual Report, your Committee feel it a pleasure to state that the Room is in a very flourishing condition and far exceeds their most sanguine expectations.
The Number of Members for the last half year being 45 and the committee would thank those members to try to induce their Lady Friends to join the Library of which the contribution is placed very low to meet all classes.
The financial condition of the Room is very satisfactory, the income from all sources being £23.5.4. and the expenditure £16.18.5 ½. leaving a nett balance of £6.6.10 ½.
The committee wish to inform the members that they have decided to purchase a larger Bagatelle Table as they find the one now in use is not enough for the requirements of the members.
They also wish to take this opportunity of returning their best thanks to their President and Mrs Hooke for their most liberal gift of books and periodicals to the library, also to Mr and Mrs Watson, W. Beckett Esq. M.P., L.H. Wraithe Esq., Mrs Tong, Miss Swift and other ladies and gentlemen for the interest kindly shown for the prosperity of the Room.
In conclusion the committee trust that the ensuing year will be a prosperous one and that every member will strive to promote the welfare of the Room."

The Reading Room and Library facilities were relocated in 1908 to the new Village Institute building in the High Street, built by the Watson family for recreational purposes for the village community. The old Reading Room was then used for storage and as a warehouse. According to the Parish Council Terrier it was hired in 1913 by Mr Abraham Holmes the Blacksmith for 25/- (£1.25p) It was rented in 1935 by a Mrs Taylor for £2, in 1936 by Mrs Hawksford for 15/- for a quarter and in 1937 Mr H. Gale also for 15/- (75p) for a quarter year.

Village Shop on the Green to 1988
Early image of shop on the Green before annex was built

Exactly when it became a village shop is unclear, but is believed to have been used as a grocery store for many years, apparently selling anything from coal to ladies underwear! It once had to compete with Boyd's shop situated on the Institute corner, since demolished to make way for bungalows, along with John Taylor's shop (later the Cooperative Stores) at the south end of Gill Lane, since closed now a private residence.

Owned by the Parish Council the shop on the Green has been run by several different people, all making changes and improvements to the service in their own way. The first known tenants were Mr Groom and Mr Tate who ran the shop together. Mr Groom had moved from across the road where he had a little wooden hut selling sweets.
They were followed by Mrs Edna Robinson. Facilities must have been almost non existent in the building for in 1959 she made a request to the Parish Council for running water to be installed in order to improve things. This was agreed and the work was carried out in 1960. Mrs Robinson was followed by Douglas and Mabel Adams.
When they left Miss Audrey Rogers took over, running the shop for 14 years. She recalls that often people would come in to buy small quantities of food, such as two rashers of bacon and one egg, just enough for one meal.

Audrey decided to retire in 1985 to look after her parents who were in poor health. On her last day at the shop she left to have some lunch and on her return was greeted by many well wishers who had put up decorations and streamers and arranged a farewell buffet in her honour. Audrey must have been a very popular shopkeeper receiving many presents and cards that day along with a big thank you.
Mrs Barbara Morfin who had worked in the shop for 10 years then took over as tenant for 3 years until October 1988. During this time she successfully applied to run the Post Office from the shop and the Parish Council agreed to add an annex to the building in order to accommodate the service.
Audrey's last day at the shop

Brief History of Beckingham Post Office 1832 to 1987
Post Office Services have been provided over the years from several different places in Beckingham but there is little information available of the early years. References in Trade Directories and Censuses show that in 1832 a Mr Stovin provided the service and in 1853 the Post Office was at the Hare and Hounds Pub in Bar Road North, now a private residence. Edmund Stovin was Sub Post Master in 1869, located in High Street. In 1879 a George Smith was the receiver of mail at his grocery store, next to the Old Wesleyan Chapel in High Street, (since demolished). John Taylor became Sub Post Master in 1900, running the service from his grocery store, in the High Street at the end of Gill Lane. This later became the Co-operative Stores and is now a private residence.
George Herbert Bee was listed as providing the service in 1912 from the Old Post Office in Low Street. According to his memoirs he was Post Master in Beckingham for 42 years, from 1905 to 1947 and for 32 of those delivered letters. When he was first appointed, Beckingham Post came under Gainsborough but was changed to Doncaster during WW1.
The Old Post Office Low Street yesteryear

This created a unique situation for such a small village, with the main part being served by Doncaster (Yorkshire), part of Ramper Road was served from Retford (Nottinghamshire) and the part extending from cottages in Old Trent Road along the Trent bank to the bridge was served from Gainsborough (Lincolnshire). Thus it was important to ensure that letters had the correct address to avoid delays and the word Beckingham was not meant to appear in the address of those who were served from Retford or Gainsborough. George retired in 1959 at the age of 76 and wrote his memoirs, giving an intriguing insight to village life at that time. The Post Office was taken over by his daughter Mrs Laura Elsham and her husband, with Mr Elsham delivering the post together with newspapers followed by their daughter Jean. Mrs Elsham was Sub Post Mistress until her retirement in 1974.
Mrs Marlene Baker continued there in one room as Sub Post Mistress for a further 10 years until the house was sold in 1983. The service was then moved to Mrs Baker's council house in Walkeringham Road where she continued to provide the service, during which time she remarried becoming Mrs Michael Proudley. When Mrs Proudley finished a temporary service was provided for several months by Morton Post Office Lincolnshire, coming to the village Recreation Room for 2 days a week. In 1987 the Post Office services were then transferred to the purpose built annex which had been added to the Village Shop on the Green, run by Sub Post Mistress Mrs Barbara Morfin.

The Village Shop and Post Office 1988 to today
Shop and Post Office 1993

Mrs Morfin sold the Shop and Post Office business in 1988 to Mrs Kath Newbert. During Mrs Newbert's tenancy the business experienced a robbery in 1993 carried out by several teenage youths, one armed with an air pistol. She and a Mrs Bailey, who worked in the shop, were threatened by the youths who demanded money. Mrs Bailey, although shaken, bravely gave chase causing the youths to drop some of the money before they escaped in a waiting car. The Police made arrests within two hours of the robbery and the youths were prosecuted and sentenced to eight years in total.
After Mrs Newbert the Post Office was run for several months by a Post Office employee, believed from Doncaster. The next Sub Post Master was Mr Peter Roberts who ran the Post Office and the Shop in 1999 until November 2001, followed by Bryony Cain, who took over the business until 2005

Trish and David Lewis became the next tenants, who made many improvements of their own. After several years of campaigning by previous postmasters, Trish and David finally managed to secure a full sized red post box for the village in 2005. Situated in front of the Shop and Post Office it replaced the small post box in the Recreation Room wall, which quickly became full and was not big enough for the villages needs.

After eight years Trish and David decided it was time to “hang up the date stamp and till” and retire. Tenants Jim and Chris Armstrong who took over in February 2013 successfully ran the business until 2016. Following tenants have made several changes including trying an experiment of providing tables and chairs outside the shop for people to sit and chat or enjoy some refreshments. Beckingham Village Shop and Post Office provides a valuable service to the community and will always need the support and patronage of the Parish in order to survive.

Post Master David Lewis and Parish Council Chair Henry Gourley 2005 with new post box

Sadly, despite efforts to find new tenants both the shop and Post Office closed for business on January 06th 2020. However, after an extensive renovation and much hard work the Village Shop reopened minus the Post Office on Friday 4th December 2020 with new tenants Lesley and Rav. After which postal services were provided by Outreach Post Office in Beckingham from the Recreation Room for two days a week. Sadly again the Village Shop is now permanently closed.
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