“My Orford” - Businesses

The area around the Market Square was the hub of the village, starting at the Kings Head where the landlord was Mr Bixby and later Mr Joe Thacker. Rowland Martins butchers shop was near the top of the hill, then known as Martins Hill, with his slaughter house at the rear. The cottage next to the Post Office was a ladies hairdressers run by Miss Nancy Abbs. The Post Office had Miss Varrant as postmistress and later Mr Tom Frost as postmaster. Frank Berrett owned a large and varied business consisting of the bakery in Bakers Lane and, fronting onto the Market Square, was a shop selling bread, cakes sweets, cigarettes home made ice-cream etc. A living room separated the sweet shop from the pork butchery business. In this part of the shop dog biscuits and corn and meal for chicken feed were also sold. At the rear, with the entrance from Bakers Lane, was a slaughter house where pigs were slaughtered once a week not only for Frank Berrett but for the other butchers too. Only pigs were slaughtered here. We always knew when the pigs were being slaughtered by their terrified squealing which could be heard all over the village. It is a sound I heard many times and which I have never forgotten. The sound of a pig squealing on the farm is one thing but the squeal of a pig nearing slaughter is very different.

Continuing along that side of the square past Mallets Lane and Crown Lane, at the crest of Crown Hill, is the Crown and Castle Hotel which had many owners before being bought by Trust Houses Ltd.

Chapman’s shop I have already mentioned. On the right hand corner of the Market Square and Pump Street stands the building which was once the White Hart public house, and at this time was a pork butchers shop owned by Mr Sanders. This was later a greengrocers owned by Mr Scarlet, and then a cafe. Part of this building was used as Barclays Bank, which opened on Friday of each week and was used mainly by local farmers and shopkeepers, the manager being brought from the Woodbridge branch by taxi.

The house on the corner of the Market Square and Front Street was a china shop owned by Mrs Tudor, whose daughter was cub mistress. In Pump Street was Pryke & Elliotts later to become Elliotts after Mr Pryke moved to Wickham Market Post Office. This was a grocers, pork butchers and bakery, the baker being Mr Oliver Burwood. The delivery van which delivered to neighbouring villages was driven by Sonny Bantoft and bread was delivered in the village by a bakery handcart pushed by Billy Smy. Across the alleyway was the sweetshop owned by Mrs Whayman whose husband Arthur owned yet another pork shop. Pork butchers each had their own jealously guarded recipe for sausages and I have never tasted any as good as Arthur Whaymans.

In Front Street at the end of the Kings Head was another butchers shop owned by Horace Whayman, no relation to Arthur, with a slaughter house a bit further on where cattle and sheep were slaughtered. In a terraced house opposite this butchers shop lived one of Orford’s well known characters, Mr Sam Smy, the last Town Crier, buyer of rabbit skins, seller of Sunday newspapers and smallholder. Sam lived well into his nineties and gained fame when he went to London in his capacity as Town Crier and took part in the BBC wireless programme "In Town Tonight". We listened to the broadcast on a Telson three valve wireless receiver with the separate loudspeaker sitting on top and powered by a 110volt dry battery in conjunction with an accumulator which had to be recharged at frequent intervals.

Whilst all these businesses were near the Square there were many others. On the corner of High Street and Church Street was the grocer and drapers of Mr Sidney Richold and further down Church Street the fruiterers and newsagent of Mr Draper.

Near the cross roads on the corner of Church Street and Daphne Road was the saddlery owned by Mr Alan Woolnough who also sold and repaired cycles and their accessories. In Daphne Road at the bottom of a driveway on the right was a wooden hut where Mr Smith who lived in Burnt Lane repaired boots and shoes.

Over the cross roads in the second house on the left in Quay street was a sweetshop and tobacconists run by Mrs Mary Brinkley whose husband was the harbour master. This was the only shop in the village which would accept farthings and at the age of about twelve three or four of us would would collect enough farthings (eight) to buy a tuppenny (2d) packet of Woodbine cigarettes. We also tried to get enough money to buy a packet of peppermints in the hope that the peppermints would remove the smell of the cigarettes.

Further on down Quay Street on the left hand side, in the first terraced cottage beyond Rose Cottage was another small sweetshop run by Miss Dora Tricker.

On the right hand side opposite this sweetshop is Old Brewery House, this house and grounds was once a brewery owned by Edward Rope and previously mentioned in chapter four. It was also the site of Orford’s Electricity Generating Station which brought the first electricity to the town. Run by the Reader family they also had plans to form a small water company to give a public water supply to the town and wanted to sub-lease part of the old garage site for this purpose. The Water Supply Company to be a subsidiary of The Orford Electric Light and Power Company, they advised the Parish Council of the advisability of taking fire precaution measures as it would be much cheaper to install hydrants whilst the mains were being laid. Nothing came of these grandiose plans in 1926 as both companies were made bankrupt shortly after.

The Jolly Sailor public house had Mr Steve Harper as its landlord, another of Orford's great characters, he was known for his loud check waistcoats and had his portrait painted by a local artist, Mr Dugdale of Iken which was later hung in the Royal Academy. He it was who started having oyster suppers at the Jolly Sailor and a new room was built at the back and is still known as the oyster room. In the yard of the Jolly Sailor a big garage was built to house the Eastern Counties bus overnight when the twice daily service was started between Orford and Ipswich.

The house now known as Saham Cottage was once the Customs House, and it is possible that Margaret Catchpole the smuggler could have been held there awaiting her journey back to Ipswich jail, I knew it as a fish and chip shop owned by Mr Billy Chambers, a large corrugated iron shed alongside the cottage housed a bus which ran a service to Ipswich and Woodbridge in competition to the Eastern Counties for a short time.

Beyond the next row of cottages was a builders yard owned by Mr Fred Johnson of Wickham Market who also owned the quay at this time, in a letter dated 26th March 1927 to the Orford Town Trust he offered the quay to the Town Trust for the sum of 250 pounds stating that he had recently spent 15 pounds replacing stones and battening the sides he also said that no other arrangement would be made and no other offer accepted until he had heard from the Town Trust. After further communications between the parties the quay was finally bought by the Town Trust for 200 pounds. The first floor of the builders yard later became a tea room run by Miss Nancy Roberts.

The warehouse on the quay and the large garage near Saham Cottage were later taken over by Mr Charles Friend, coal and coke merchant. Coal was delivered to the quay by a sailing barge named Lord Rosebury whose skipper was Mr Burchell from Grimsby. Being a time of high unemployment, when a barge was to be unloaded, the names of all those wanting a job were put into a hat and then drawn until the required number was reached. The coal was conveyed by lorry and horse & carts from the quayside to the storage sheds.

In Broad Street Mr Lew Anderson had his tailors shop and further along Broad Street opposite the end of the middle (Mallets) lane was Bob Barnard’s blacksmiths shop. Between the bottom of Mallets lane and the bottom of Crown lane Puffy Mallet had his house and builders yard.

At the end of Broad Street is Chantry Farm where milk and farm butter could be bought at the back door, at this time owned by Mr H J Cordle, milk was also delivered round the village every morning by horse and milk cart driven by my father. A large milk churn with a tap was strapped to a shelf at the front of the cart and the two gallon serving can was filled from this tap, hanging on a rail inside the serving can were the one pint and half pint measures. These were used to measure the required amount into the customers own receptacles which were usually left on the doorsteps. The horse pulling the cart got to know the round so well he would move along the road automatically as my father delivered to a row of houses.

Mr Cordle, being a religious man would not let his horses work on Sundays, this meant that my father had to deliver the milk on foot. When old enough I would help him, he would carry the two gallon serving can and another two gallon can and I would carry two 1 gallon cans, as his became empty I would empty mine into his and then return to the farm, have my cans refilled and meet him at another point on his round. The logic of Mr Cordle’s religion struck me as very strange which forbade working a horse on a Sunday but allowed working a human being twice as hard.

At Brundish Square in High Street another of Orford’s great characters lived, this was Mr W G Sharman, a very versatile businessman, he ran a carrier service in the form of a bus which went to Ipswich and Woodbridge conveying parcels, the driver would shop for the clients and deliver the goods to their homes upon its return in the evening, a small charge being made for the service. Mr Sharman ran a taxi service, was a photographer, sold petrol and oil and then started up as a coal and coke merchant which did not endear him to Mr Charlie Friend. The bus used for the carrier service was a solid tyred Albion.

Charlie Friends brother, Albert, erected a wooden shed on the old garage site left by the Royal Flying Corps after the first world war in Front Street, and started a business repairing and selling bicycles both second hand and new, he charged accumulators for wireless sets and any other odd jobs which came along, he gradually expanded the business to include petrol pumps, taxi service, bus hire and vehicle repairs. The business has changed hands many times but has retained the name of Friends Garage.

With all these businesses Orford was self contained, milk from the farm, bread from the two bakeries, the grocery shops always kept ample reserves in the storerooms, cattle, sheep and pigs could be slaughtered in the slaughter houses. When the village was cut off by snowdrifts the only things which became unavailable were newspapers and the post. Unlike today when the village is cut off by snow, the one and only grocery shop is inundated with customers because they cannot get out to the supermarket twelve miles away.

An offshoot of Chantry Farm was a group of buildings in Front Street known as Randalls Barn which consisted of a large barn and other outbuildings and cattle yards, just inside the entrance to Randalls Barn a wooden hut was erected to be used as a fish and chip shop owned by Mr Victor Last of Snape, a piece of fish cost tuppence (2d) and a portion of chips one penny (1d). When ordering one asked for two & one please!

Also in Front Street was yet another carrier, taxi and bus service owned by Mr Samuel Foreman whose son, Victor was the bus driver and he ran the taxi service with a very large Crossley car. He conveyed the school football team to compete in an inter schools tournament at Leiston. When refreshments were being served in the school afterwards, one of the boys pulled the stool away as Sam Foreman was going to sit on it causing him to fall heavily to the floor. On the return journey he got his own back, the bridge at Snape at that time was humpbacked and Sam drove over it at speed causing us to be thrown from the seats and hitting the roof before falling back in a jumbled heap on the seats and floor.

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