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Iconic community shop is back from the brink of eviction with new 99-year lease

PUBLISHED: 14:44 13 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:07 13 June 2019

From left are volunteer Karen Topping , manager of the day Sophie Fowell, and customer Dennis Rolfe, standing outside the Itteringham Community Shop with a cheque from The National Lottery Community Fund for £7,500. picture: ITTERINGHAM COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

From left are volunteer Karen Topping , manager of the day Sophie Fowell, and customer Dennis Rolfe, standing outside the Itteringham Community Shop with a cheque from The National Lottery Community Fund for £7,500. picture: ITTERINGHAM COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION

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It has stood at the heart of its village community for almost 400 years, and it is again thriving after surviving the threat of eviction.

James Fowell has been coming into Itteringham village shop since he was a boy and has bought the EDP there for half a century. Picture: Neil DidsburyJames Fowell has been coming into Itteringham village shop since he was a boy and has bought the EDP there for half a century. Picture: Neil Didsbury

And now the future of Itteringham Village Shop is secure, after the association behind it signed a 99-year lease with the council.

Mike Hemsley, committee member of the Itteringham Community Association, the volunteer group which runs the shop, said: "The lease is very significant because that secures us in the building.

"It's taken two years of negotiation, so that now we've got a lease that is substantial and we're safe in our position for 99 years.

"In 2017 we were threatened with eviction because the landlord of Fair Meadow House, which is attached to the house, wanted to sell up."

Nancy Gardiner from nearby Lamas volunteers at Itteringham village shop and encourages other locals to do the same to keep the shop going. Picture: Neil DidsburyNancy Gardiner from nearby Lamas volunteers at Itteringham village shop and encourages other locals to do the same to keep the shop going. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Luckily North Norfolk District Council stepped in and bought the whole property, leasing the shop back to the association for a peppercorn rent and transforming Fair Meadow House into a holiday let.

The shop is also celebrating being awarded a grant of £7,500 from the National Lottery Community Fund, which has been used to have much -needed air conditioning installed.

Mr Hemsley said: "Last year saw internal temperatures peak above 30 degrees centigrade.

"The air conditioning now helps maintain lower internal summer temperatures, keep stock fresh, customers cool and staff very happy."

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

The grant will also pay for the fitting out of a social space on the mezzanine area above the shop's gallery for small groups to meet including book clubs, sewing groups and artists.

There has been a village shop in Itteringham since 1637.

In 1997, its then owner, Brian Fairhead became terminally ill, and the association was formed to keep it running.

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 fourth oldest shop in Britain, Itteringham village shop has a long and proud history. Picture: Neil DidsburyThe fourth oldest shop in Britain, Itteringham village shop has a long and proud history. Picture: Neil Didsbury

The association plan to celebrate 25 years of running the store in October.

As well as the shop, the venture also includes a cafe and a branch of the post office.

The shop is open every day from 9am to 5.30pm, and until 4pm on Sundays.

Some of the fresh farm produce available at Itteringham village shop. Picture: Neil DidsburySome of the fresh farm produce available at Itteringham village shop. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Inside Itteringham village shop near Aylsham which has been granted a 99 year lease from its owners North Norfolk district council. Picture: Neil DidsburyInside Itteringham village shop near Aylsham which has been granted a 99 year lease from its owners North Norfolk district council. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Itteringham Village Shop was established in 1637 making it the fourth oldest shop in Britain. Picture: Neil DidsburyItteringham Village Shop was established in 1637 making it the fourth oldest shop in Britain. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Itteringham Village Shop near Aylsham is over 380 years old but was under threat of closure just two years ago. Picture: Neil DidsburyItteringham Village Shop near Aylsham is over 380 years old but was under threat of closure just two years ago. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Itteringham Village Shop was established in 1637 making it the fourth oldest shop in Britain. Picture: Neil DidsburyItteringham Village Shop was established in 1637 making it the fourth oldest shop in Britain. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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