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Living Linen Interview LL2_R00/53


Sound Recording on Reel: Library Transcript: Transcript. Summary: Mrs Bingham's husband worked in a draper's shop in East Belfast. He had always wanted to run his own business and responded to an advertisement placed in the paper looking for someone to run the general store in Edenderry village at Shaw's Bridge. The Bingham's took a shine to the shop, and to Edenderry, but they also reasoned that they had a captive clientele. The general store was the only shop in the village and was a focal point for the community. There was a bench beneath the front window and the only public phone in the entire village was right outside the shop. The village consisted of over 100 houses, the next nearest shop was at Ballylesson and there were very few cars on the road. The Bingham's were also made feel very welcome in the village and never considered themselves outsiders. The Bingham's took over the shop in 1954. The shop, like everything else in Edenderry, was owned by John Shaw Brown. The shop plus accommodation was rented from the factory at £1 per week. The accommodation was of a comparatively high standard. Unlike most of the houses, the shop had running water and a bathroom. Moreover the house also had a phone, although this was more to do with the shop and contacting suppliers than a domestic luxury. Although there was very little passing trade in Edenderry, the shop was situated on the left-hand side of the main road going into the village, and, therefore, any factory worker who travelled from outside the village passed the shop a couple of times a day. The factory took very little interest in the running of the shop. The Bingham's bought their own stock, charged what they liked and set their own opening hours. It must be said, however, that the Directors of the factory were very pleased with the shop. The shop was a general store; stocking food, haberdashery, medicinal items and newspapers. The stock in the shop was soon adjusted to meet the requirements of the villagers. Several customers asked Mrs Bingham for certain products or brands. Bread and milk were delivered daily. Although the milkman delivered around the houses, the breadman refused to sell door to door as he regarded the houses as the Bingham's customers and not his. While the shop stocked a wide range of food they did very little fruit and no fresh meat. Nevertheless, Mrs Bingham recalls that the factory workers ate a good and balanced diet. The shop opened from 9:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and half-day Saturday. The most frequent customers were the women who shopped for the family. Children often came in to spend their pocket money or to pick up individual items. The men mostly came in for tobacco and other items for their own personal use. It was common practice for women to leave shopping lists and baskets in the shop at lunchtime and to collect their goods on the way home in the evening. Each customer was issued with a Pass Book into which all purchases were logged. A copy was kept in the shop. Friday (payday) was the busiest day. This was when the biggest shop of the week took place. Customers settled their previous week's account and took the following week's groceries on credit. Credit extensions were occasionally given if a family was in financial difficulty, through ill health or unemployment. This system worked extremely well. Everyone paid promptly and the Bingham's left Edenderry without being owed a penny. The shop provided the Bingham's with a good income. Profit margins were reasonable and turnover good. They left Edenderry in 1957 to move to bigger premises.