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Hopkins News

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is now Closed

Hopkins Newsagents in the 1950's with Baileys (Boot Maker|) which later  became  "Paula's Place" on the opposite corner. This is currently a block of flats.

Anyone around in 1924 may remember the corner newsagents shop being taken over in that year by Nelly Hopkins. The present owner Julian King, is a great nephew of Nelly's so not only is it the longest surviving shop but has also been, since 1924, owned by the same family.

The previous owner was Mr Austin, a retired London policeman, Nelly's father (who owned the brickworks in Station Road) bought it in 1924 for 500!

Life has changed dramatically since then - Nelly's used to be open until 10 or 11 pm at night (though not on Sundays as Nelly was a strict Methodist and ran the Methodist Sunday School for years). The shop used to sell records (the cylindrical variety) and at one stage was also the Verwood lending library.

In those days, the newspapers arrived by train from London via Salisbury at 4 am . Someone had to be at Verwood Station to meet the train and check that all the newspapers actually came off the train - if not then those newspapers ended up at West Moors, or worse still, Weymouth , and someone had to meet the next train bringing them back at 8 am .

Geary's of Ringwood used to deliver Sunday papers in Verwood at this Time. George Moore of Verwood took over later. Eventually Julian King bought the Sunday paper round when he bought the shop.

Julian owned the shop for 30 years (in 2005) although he had worked full time in it for 43 years. The papers still had to be collected and, if the car would not start, they had to be collected on the bike. This entailed two or three trips.

During the War, papers were delivered (by bike) to some of the remoter rural areas and at St Giles' House, the boy delivering had actually to cycle around the house, putting a paper in the Cook's door, one in the Butler's door, one to the Stables etc.

The shop building was one of the first built by Percy Bailey, a local builder, in the early 1920's. It was extended by Julian when he bought the premises. Before then the papers were sorted in a wooden shed.

At one time the premises were also used as a hairdresser's and a blind man used to make wicker baskets there. Julian made internal changes by incorporating the old storeroom into the shop and including the selling of basic grocery items. The former garage at the side of the shop was then used as the sorting room/office.

Hopkins was open seven days a week - from Monday to Saturday from 5 am , but the staff had a "lie-in" on Sundays as opening time then was 5.30 am ! The only day throughout the year that the shop was closed was on Christmas Day. Adverse weather conditions did not deter Julian and his staff. During the bad snows of the 1976 winter the papers did not arrive in Verwood until 1.30 pm but the house to house deliveries were still completed that day.

There were 44 staff on the payroll - this figure included 30 boys/girls who delivered the papers plus shop staff and people to do the "marking up". More recently the papers and magazines arrived in vans at Verwood from two different suppliers in the very early morning to be sorted and "marked up" ready for collection and delivery by the delivery boys and girls.

Julian decided not to change the name from " Hopkins " when he bought the shop since it had been known for such a long time by that name. Nelly would have approved of that but she would not have been so happy with the Sunday opening and the sale of cigarettes - two things she felt very strongly about! Is there anyone in Verwood who still remembers her? - she sounds like quite a character.

Finally in September of 2005, on his retirement, Julian closed and then sold the shop after having earlier sold the Newspaper round to Martins situated in the then Safeway and now Morrisons complex.



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