Before buying our narrowboat, we were probably best known and remembered for our work as proprietors of the small Post Office and shop in the pleasantly situated village of Eaton which lies in the Leicestershire wolds above the Vale of Belvoir and close to the borders of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. We moved to Eaton on 1st June 1995 but the Post Office and shop premises in the centre of the village had existed since the mid eighteenth century when it was first recorded as a bakehouse and was most probably a single story stone built building with a thatched roof.
We purchased the business and premises from Dennis & Shirley Murdoch
who had owned it for a number of years. Parts of the building are extremely
old and the original stone ovens are still in there somewhere - now, most
likely, lost among the numerous alterations and additions that have taken
place over the years. The brick built first storey with its tiled roof was
probably added during the mid nineteenth century. The first Post Office was
first established at Eaton in Victorian times and, with the exception of
a brief period in the mid 1950s, it had always been located in the same building.
Records show that during the early part of the 20th century it was also a
"Telegraph Office" and there were deliveries of mails from Grantham twice
During the first half of the twentieth century, Eaton was a centre for ironstone quarrying. This industry, together with the railways that transported the ore, provided a good living for many of the 400 plus inhabitants that lived in the village at that time. When quarrying ceased in the 1960s the land reverted to agriculture; the railways closed and the population declined. Today, Eaton is a quiet village with winding lanes and attractive honey coloured stone houses - enjoying all the charm of the Cotswolds without being compromised by mass tourism. From March 1995 until April 2005, Graham worked full time as Chief Executive of the Great Central Railway in Loughborough and Jane ran the shop with a little help from Graham in the mornings and on Sundays. Unfortunately, as the local population and its shopping preferences continued to change, the business had become less and less viable to the extent that we ended up subsidising it - so when Graham retired from the railway, we really couldn't see a way of maintaining the Post Office and shop as a going concern. Therefore, with considerable regret, we took the decision to sell the premises.
The photograph above shows Jane at the door of the Post Office and shop at closing time on 18th August 2005; the last day of business. It was a very sad moment for us - having done our best to run it as as a community amenity for more than ten years. Sadly, the building has now been converted for private residential use and the little Post Office and shop at Eaton is now just a memory. Nevertheless, but we shall always miss the wonderful time we had at Eaton and the friends who supported us and made us so welcome in this remote corner of Leicestershire.
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© Graham & Jane Oliver 2006