Little Plumstead, near Norwich, has a new community shop – we find out more
Just about everyone would agree that this year has been something of a rollercoaster, with the ‘c’ word unsurprisingly dominating most people’s thoughts. But for Little Plumstead, a much more welcome ‘c’ word has become the talk of the village with the opening of a new community shop and café.
More than three years of work by a committee of determined locals came to fruition in October with the launch of The Walled Garden Community Shop and Café, which has been funded by a combination of grants, fundraising, donations and a community share offer.
Adrian Nagle, chair of the management committee, says: ‘Our village store closed in 2016 so, since then, getting to our nearest supermarket has meant an eight-mile round trip. The idea of the shop and café came about through local social entrepreneur Robert Ashton and there was huge local support for establishing a shop in the village once again.’
The shop and café have been built within the Victorian walled garden that formerly served Little Plumstead Hall and then latterly Little Plumstead Hospital. Until the 1990s, the garden was maintained to a high standard, mainly by patients from the hospital, but it fell into a state of disrepair before being acquired by the parish council. The community group is leasing the site from the parish council and aiming to restore the walled garden to its former glory. The café’s outdoor terrace has already become a popular place to watch the early stages of the garden’s restoration.
Adrian continues: ‘It’s been a huge undertaking, made more complicated by needing to clear the garden, get the Victorian walls restored and build the shop and café from scratch – all alongside meeting funding deadlines and being faced with a pandemic.
‘It’s even more important in light of what’s happened this year as it means vulnerable people won’t need to travel so far to get groceries; and the café is a place people can get together for a coffee and a chat so they won’t feel so isolated.’
The shop is being supplied by Nisa Retail (part of the Co-op Group), as well as stocking many locally sourced products. Initially, the café is offering hot drinks and locally produced cakes and pastries, but is hoping to expand the menu as the business grows. The shop and café have two paid members of staff who are being supported by volunteers.
Liam Buddle, shop and café manager, pictured above, took the job because of everything the project stands for: “It was exactly what I wanted to get involved with – there was no shop anywhere nearby and I think people are now shopping much closer to home.
‘We’re really reliant on volunteers and so grateful to everyone who’s come forward so far to help out. It’s a fantastic facility and we hope it’ll be well used by the community.’
The shop and café open daily.