Walking down the hill to the high street
James Street - 'Victorian shopping area'
This is one half of the two A Plumb & Son shopfronts.
I presume the owner is the son. I wonder if he has a son or daughter to continue the family tradition. I'm not sure that he does. I think this place is just a storeroom/residence. The second shop across is where all the magic happens.
On a street which likes to look like it's still in another era, Plumb's is really like going back in time. The store is a reverse Tardis. It's definitely smaller on the inside, or at least the bit you can go into is. You enter the cramped retail area where the shopkeeper (presumably Mr Plumb himself) is usually found stood behind the counter, wearing a dustcoat - except between the hours of 1.00pm and 2.00pm when the shop is closed for lunch. While the walls and cabinets are groaning with all sorts of useful household goods, you're probably best not to try and find what you're looking for. You simply ask the shopkeeper for it, and he'll find it for you, often vanishing into the stockroom at back of the shop (which I can only imagine is equally as laden with goods of varying age and condition). If you want choice, you're better off going to a large hardware store. In B&Q I noticed several rows of wall vents (for a tumble drier), but I chose to go to Plumbs for mine where I was given the only one they stocked, a universal option which fitted both rectangular and round openings! It was perfect and does exactly what I needed it to.
I'd say Mr Plumb is only in his fifties, and seems to run the whole place on his own. I do hope there's another generation to take this shop on when he retires. Places like this are so vital to a small community.
The Post Office is just around the corner, so after a few minutes in there, I was walking back up James Street and home again. At the top of the street is this place.
The painted over sign above the window says this was formerly 'Greensmith's Stores'
The chalkboard in the window says,
'Please knock next door if you wish to buy anything in this window'.
I'm not sure if the display has changed at all in the last decade. I certainly always have a look in the window when I pass and try and spot any changes! It's hardly promoting economic regeneration of this area, but it's so charming. Mind you, I really do think the window should have a cushion with a saggy old cloth cat on it, and a musical organ with some engravings of little mice...
At the top of James Street, I turned left at the former Methodist Chapel, now converted into flats and walked back up the hill and home to Swingate.