Runwell Post Office early 1900s

Runwell Road

Runwell Post Office and stores on Runwell Road.

The Post Office, Runwell Road
Marion Hurst

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  • The lady in question that had this quaint little village shop/sub Post Office was Mrs. Lilly Stokes, a great personal friend of my late father, Alfred Williams. Dad used the shop from its earliest conception right up until Lilly’s death, which I’ll guess at being early to mid 60s. I’ve been searching for a photograph of the shop for years. When Lilly died my Dad handled her funeral and she was laid to her rest, buried in St. Mary’s Church, Runwell. Every Friday evening Dad would pick me up from home and. drive the short distance to Lily’s, opposite Runwell Chase, park the car and risk life ‘n’ limb crossing the road. Past the Post box, up the step, and as you opened the door the bell above the door would ring. As you entered the shop, the little Post Office was situated on the right, a four foot single front wire mesh caged front. The smell of hand rolling and pipe tobacco filled the room, mixed with furniture polish, and a large blue Persian cat sat at the top of the left hand counter near the scales. On the left side was the main counter, and a door half way which led into Lilly’s private quarters. The shop’s sweets were in large jars, as all sweet shops of the era. Dad’s treat to Mum every week was a half pound of coconut mushrooms and a 1lb slab of Cadbury’s chocolate. Lilly always handed me 1d bar of chocolate personally. Frail in stature, she had a pronounced arched spine which kept the poor love stooped over, and to look at you she’d often turn her head to one side. Always pleasant, I grew and continued to buy my cigarettes from Lilly’s when I left school and started work at Southern Precast, Battlesbridge. Beside the shop Lilly had a large orchard of apple trees and Dad would help her every year by picking the apples for Lilly. I think from memory she had only one family dependent at the time of her death and it pained us all greatly when we learned that the shop was to be demolished, the time and date which escape my memory. She, Lilly, was a small framed bespectacled little old grey haired lady. She was slow due to age, but my family always found her to be friendly and sweet. When in the capacity of Post Mistress she’d don her little plastic peak to perform the role. Lilly Stokes Little Shop gave a very personal service with a smile. Jarred sweets of every kind, and the hand rubbed pipe tobacco, cherry flake, smelt beautiful as Lilly would weigh it out from a large tin, then transfer and wrap it in grease proof paper, all the time filling the shop with a fabulous aroma. There’s a lot to be said for the village shop and sub Post Office and the personal touch now sadly gone.
    God Bless your memory, Lilly, and the community service you provided. Always remembered by those you served.
    Today as the cars pass the spot where the shop stood, there is nothing there to show of its former existence. Sad, because at one time it was a focal part of Runwell.

    By Trevor A. Williams (23/06/2018)
  • I recall Mrs Stokes in the 1950s/early 60s; a little old lady who used to complain that “People will keep disturbing me!”  My Mum, Joyce Humphrey, used to take me in there for sweets.

    By Lyn Humphrey (20/03/2013)
  • Yes, I can remember the lady in the shop opposite The Chase.  She used to sit in a chair, smoking a cigarette.  She had blondish/white hair.  I don’t know what year because I was very young.

    By bob croot (24/02/2012)
  • I remember this Post Office as being almost opposite the Chase Runwell, which was a private road then . Miss / Mrs Stokes used to run the Post Office and Newsagents.

    By Barrie Adcock (Adcock's Newsagents Wickford) (09/01/2012)

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