End of an era as last village shop closes in Blackboys

BLACKBOYS High Street changed for ever late last month with the closure of the last village shop.

Family butcher TW Hopkins was a much-loved and busy part of the community for more than 40 years.

The shop was visited regularly both by villagers and people who travelled from miles around to enjoy the service and banter of a real family business. Graham Hopkins and his commercial partner David ran the firm for more than 35 years. Resident Zannthie M Bennett said: “We moved to Blackboys when I was three. Before Graham it was his father’s business. It was a daily part of my childhood for one of the family (and the dog) to go and fetch supplies.”

Zannthie said Graham was legendary for his sharp tongue, rebuttals and remarks. “He would chide his way through my teenage defences as I went to the shops on Saturday for my mother. Waiting space was to be found on a comfy long cushion spread over the tiled window recess where five or six bodies could sit, deep in conversation. What a character – a real Sussex ‘banterer.’”

In the 1970s, Blackboys had a post office, general stores and two pubs as well as the butchers. The general store closed two years ago. Zannthie now lives in London but hopes she might find a few of Graham’s herby sausages in her freezer. She added: “I will forever count Graham’s couch window as one of the most friendly, sociable and fun places I have spent time.”