One of Britain’s oldest shops set to celebrate milestone

Nancy Gardiner is among the volunteers who keeps Itteringham Village Shop going. Picture: Neil Didsb

Nancy Gardiner is among the volunteers who keeps Itteringham Village Shop going. Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

One of Britain's oldest shops, which has survived several scrapes with closure, is about to celebrate a silver milestone.

Brian Fairhead ran Itteringham village shop with his wife Dorothy from 1946 until 1994, taking over

Brian Fairhead ran Itteringham village shop with his wife Dorothy from 1946 until 1994, taking over from his father Albert. Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

Next month marks 25 years since Itteringham Village Shop, in north Norfolk, was taken over by the Itteringham Community Association after its owners, Brian and Dorothy Fairhead, had to give it up.

Association committee member Mike Hemsley said they were planning a curry night on Saturday, October 19, which would see the shop turned into a "pop-up restaurant" from 6pm to 9pm.

Mr Hemsley said: "There's no booking required - just come and support this event that demonstrates the resilience and community determination to retain this historic and much-loved village community asset."

The shop was first opened in 1637. Until 1994 it was run by Mr and Mrs Fairhead and before that, by Mr Fairhead's father, Albert.

Produce on display at Itteringham village shop, near Aylsham. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Produce on display at Itteringham village shop, near Aylsham. Picture: Neil Didsbury - Credit: Archant

But when Mr Fairhead became terminally ill, the volunteer-based association was formed to keep the shop running.

Mr Hemsley said: "Few would have imagined that it would grow and thrive into the successful community model it is today.

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"Through the years the Itteringham Community Association has battled the usual commercial headaches of stock control, wages, volunteer recruitment, fundraising, marketing, advertising and promotion.

"But throughout 25 years a whole group of volunteers and village residents have given time and skills to the project in a kind of unending human relay race."

Iterringham Village Shop, which was bought by the North Norfolk District Council. Picture: DENISE BR

Iterringham Village Shop, which was bought by the North Norfolk District Council. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

A different 'manager of the day' runs the store along with other volunteers, and the shop puts a focus on stocking goods and produce from local suppliers.

The shop faced closure in 2017, but was saved when North Norfolk District Council bought the property. Earlier this year the council signed a 99-year lease with the council.

Mr Hemsley said about the celebration: "We will be serving take away or eat in curries with rice, naan bread and poppadoms plus they are serving beers, lager and wine to enjoy with the meal if you choose to stay and dine in the cafe and gallery areas. Space and quantities will be limited to the first 80 customers."

The association won a retail innovation award from The Plunkett Foundation in 2015, a regional award from the Countryside Alliance in 2018 and now awaits news of a regional nomination from the Rural Business Awards, to be announced in November.

Days gnoe by - a library photo of Brian and Dorothy Fairhead inside the Itteringham village shop. PH

Days gnoe by - a library photo of Brian and Dorothy Fairhead inside the Itteringham village shop. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

Inside the Ittringham Community Shop in 2006. Picture: Archant library

Inside the Ittringham Community Shop in 2006. Picture: Archant library - Credit: Archant © 2006

Brian Fairhead, when he and his wife ran the Itteringham Village Shop. Photo: Bill Smith

Brian Fairhead, when he and his wife ran the Itteringham Village Shop. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

At Itteringham village shop in 1994. Pictured is shopkeeper Mrs Dorothy Fairhead who at that time ha

At Itteringham village shop in 1994. Pictured is shopkeeper Mrs Dorothy Fairhead who at that time had served the villagers of Itteringham for over 55 years. Picture: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

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