Nation's oldest shop could close

A Ribble Valley village faces losing one of its long standing legacies - unless a last minute buyer steps forward.

Thursday, 19th January 2017, 3:54 pm
Updated Thursday, 19th January 2017, 4:01 pm

Brabin’s Shop and Tea Room, which has been at the heart of the community in Chipping for more than 300 years - and is the longest continual trading shop in the UK - has been on the market since September. But owner Roy Pinkett says that if no-one agrees to buy the business by the end of next month, he has no option but to close.

Roy bought the business in April 2014, but due to his wife, Sharon’s ill health, they had to put it on the market.

Sharon said: “We can’t carry on any more. I have arthritis in my spine and knees and I have found it difficult to work. We want a complete break away from it. We don’t want the hassle and stress any more. I struggle to work and it is too much for one person.

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“It is very sad as we have worked so hard at it.

“We have enjoyed our time here. The people are so nice.

“The business has a great history behind it and what John Brabin did was phenomenal.

“We have asked the estate agent to push it but there is not much interest. If we don’t get a buyer by the end of February, that is it - we will close on February 27.”

The possible closure throws a question mark over the future of the post office, which is currently available two mornings a week in the Talbot Street premises.

Sharon added: “If the shop is closed, there is no access to the post office. This is a great shame and a loss to the people living on Chipping.

“We do mobile and electricity top-ups. We have even opened up at 10pm for people who have knocked on our door as they have run out of electricity.”

But Paul Hunt, chairman of the parish council, is adamant the post office would find a home elsewhere in the village.

He previously owned the business and is a post master in Longridge.

He said: “If the worst came to the worst, we would have to find another location for the post office.

“We would find a way of keeping the post office going in Chipping. The village hall is one possibility.

“It would be a shame to lose Brabin’s. It would be great for the shop to carry on in some format.

“We don’t know what the future holds. I know it is difficult to run a small business in this day and age.”

Barbara Green, parish council clerk, reiterated: “We won’t let the post office go out of the village. We will find an alternative place.

“We would be devastated to lose the longest continual trading shop in the country.”

The business, which is owned by Brabin’s Trust, was bought by Chipping wool merchant John Brabin in 1684 for the benefit of the community.

It has continued ever since as a shop and tea room and even has a small petting area.

In recent years, Sharon was pivotal in leading a campaign to keep the bus service in Chipping, following Lancashire County Council’s plans to cut subsidies.

In an 11th-hour move, the council agreed to provide funding for another year.

If anyone is interested in buying any furniture or tea room-based items, they should drop in on the shop, in Talbot Street.

Brabin’s is on the market for £120,000. Interested parties should contact Kings Business Transfers in Preston.

Brabin’s Trust was unavailable for comment.