Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

End of the Road for a Great Institution and the Post Office; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

End of the Road for a Great Institution and the Post Office; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

IN 2001, when Brenda Brodie took over the Milfield Shop and Post Office in the village where she has lived nearly all her life, a first-class stamp cost 26p.

Postage stamps and pensions were what brought the shoppers in and, while they were there, they bought newspapers and cigarettes, and stocked up on essential groceries for which they were prepared to pay a wee premium rather than make the expensive run into Berwick or Wooler.

After all, in 2001, a litre of four-star could set you back 75p!

Come Monday morning, Brenda's surviving post-millennial customers will wish they were back in those bad old days when a white sliced loaf was theirs for 55p. So will the men who slow from thunder pace along the A697 to a stop at her doorstep to buy their lunchtime pies and filled rolls.

For by then, Brenda's emporium will be no more. At lunchtime tomorrow, she will bundle up her last newspaper returns, switch off the lights and leave the emptied fridge door ajar when she locks the shop door for the last time.

"I should have done it back in 2009 when they took away my post office," said Brenda, jerking a thumb in the direction of an empty space where the pensions and postage stamps counter once plied a roaring trade.

"The wage the Post Office paid me just about covered my shop rent and enough for me to pay for part-time help. When that finished, so was I" Her replacement, a mobile Post Office van that travels every weekday from Alnwick - except when the snow is too deep or the roads are flooded - left folk wondering then if the shop would survive or wither on the vine like the village school, which was to close a year later.

Now those same folk wonder aloud how a far-from-wealthy community - only a minority earn enough to be subject to full council tax - will survive the closure of the shop which has been an everpresent part of the community for as long as they can remember.

The former postmistress - "I can't help but feel sad," she tells me, just as she told the BBC's John Craven on Countryfile when she shut the post office four years ago - will not be beaten: her successful catering venture, Brenda's Kitchen, has high-profile local customers such as the mart and the golf club in Wooler, and she's in demand for private parties: usually 21sts and weddings. …

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