Village Shop Memories

Higgs Shop with Keith Higgs & fatherThe Higgs Family and the Village Shop

The following article was published in Issue 139 of the Village Bulletin and relates memories of the village shop in the 1950’s.

In 1953, the Higgs family took over the local West Bergholt village shop. I seem to remember the shop was owned by the Pitts family originally.  That part of Bergholt was known as Pitts Corner.  I lived next door at Ashbourne cottage. I was eleven years old.

The Higgs family consisted of mum and dad, Graham, Keith and Peter.  The shop was not as it is today, obviously.  I seem to remember there was a big barn at the rear, and as I was an ardent little tap dancer, I performed for them, sometimes charging tuppence.  They were a lovely family, especially Mrs. Higgs, who was very kind to me.  My mother and I were very poor, and she would often feed me.

Pretty Village

Bergholt of course was really a pretty village in those days.  Opposite our homes were Popular trees and a field.  In fact Bergholt was almost entirely full of fields like most villages in those days.  It was very friendly and everyone knew everybody else.  We played all over, up Armoury Lane which only had a few houses.  The Brewery was there, and the old night watchman would often give loads of us tours around the brewery.  We would sometimes sneak bad beers which had been rejected, get a little tipsy and go on to the brewery field to try to ride the cows.  No PC in them thar days.

Of course, there was no electric till about 1955 (I think) no sewerage, and no gas.  When I finally left in 1957 all these services were then connected.  At about this time, the Higgs family emigrated to New Zealand.

Visiting from New Zealand

I often thought about them, then about ten years ago, Keith and his wife Marcie came to the UK to see family, and he wanted to show his wife where the shop was.  Apparently, this was put in the Parish Magazine, and he expressed the wish to see his old friend Wendy Norfolk again.  My best friend, who resides in Bergholt forwarded the magazine to me, and I got in touch with him.  We corresponded quite infrequently, and then I heard from him with the sad news his wife had passed away.  He was also newly retired.  He decided to return to the old Country, travelling over on a cargo ship.  We arranged to meet up, and after 60 years met outside the old shop, and it was lovely to see each other, if only for a couple of hours.  Keith had been looking over the village before I arrived, and was so surprised to see how much it had changed.  I do not think there will be any more visits as N.Z. is a long way away, and we are all getting older.  We will definitely be keeping in touch!

Wendy Glover