Part 4-August 2019-December 2020

A change of direction- a critical few months

The account of the struggle to save Winsham Shop and Post Office given in Part 3, cannot reflect the enormous amount of energy expended by a dedicated group of people to save what many regard as the heart of the Winsham community. The expectation of many, when the news of the failure to obtain planning approval became known, was that this village-owned business now faced inevitable closure, for all the reasons given, possibly within a few months.

The Shop Management Committee showed extraordinary resilience in the face their failure to win the appeal against the earlier unsuccessful planning decision. The decision wrecked their hopes and plans for the future, and forced them to the conclusion that the only hope of keeping the shop and post office trading was to make the existing premises work.  It was September, and the initial task was to  establish a new lease, as the existing lease was due for renewal in October 2019, the following month. The Committee had to act fast:


September/October 2019

Following a review by the Shop Management Committee to see what could be done to make the shop ‘fit for purpose’ including reducing noise and improving ventilation, the following facts came to light.  Due to the age and fabric of the building there was inadequate separation between the commercial rental area leased by the tenant and the private accommodation of the landlord. This presented a serious fire risk.  The structure of the property did not meet necessary health and safety guidelines and an official inspection could have resulted in the shop being forced to close immediately and not reopen until necessary works had been completed to bring the premises up to standard.

Once these facts were known to Winsham Shop Ltd, it was vital to ensure the necessary changes were made if the shop was to continue trading.  The following works were agreed with the cooperation of the landlord:

  •        Remove all ceilings and replace to current standards
  •        Install sound insulation on all walls and ceilings
  •        Rewire the visible electrical system within the shop premises
  •        Lay new floor covering throughout the premises
  •        Remove non load-bearing structures to improve airflow and to increase shop floor area

Winsham Shop in 1998. It had changed
very little over the decades


November and December 2019-The renovations and reconstruction

The first task was to clear and strip down the existing shop to its basic structure.

The Shop Management Committee hired local firm Loaring Developments Ltd and work started on 9 November. The premises needed to be completely cleared and a much smaller version of the shop was relocated to the Parish Office in the Jubilee Hall. The Post Office had to be closed temporarily due to lack of appropriate space and security.

It was not known what other structural issues might be uncovered when work started and during the course of the works three more serious issues came to light:  (i)  non-standard electrical wiring requiring complete replacement of electrical system, extra to electrical work already identified,  (ii). Rotting wooden joists supporting existing floor, (iii) Cracked ceiling joists - potential serious risk of ceiling collapse. 

As well as the additional wiring, these factors necessitated significant extra structural work consisting of replacing the floor to building control specifications with cement and installing three new structural poles to support cracked beams.

Floors needed to be replaced, and modern electrical systems needed to be installed

Walls were replastered ready for redecoration and some tiling

As work progressed evidence of earlier times in its long history were uncovered and preserved

Funding of the work

The final cost of over £60,000 to improve the property was funded by a community share issue funded by 75 households from the village.

 The new lease was signed in January 2020 for a further 7 years. The Shop Management Committee had requested a three year lease initially and the Landlord happily extended the term by a further 4 years to give the Management Committee and those villagers who had kindly contributed to the refurbishment costs, a longer term of security.  The continuity of this valuable village service was therefore made safe for the foreseeable future.  What the longer term will bring no one can know, but the new business model will hopefully deliver greater growth for the enterprise and the benefit of the people of Winsham.

Click HERE to view Part 5 to learn how Winsham Shop and Post Office responded to 2020,which would prove to be the most difficult year for the nation in the eighty or so years, since the outbreak of World War II...