Days Gone By: Quaint building known as Orange Box in Tattingstone was focal point of village life
A photograph of Waterloo House, which was the Post Office, public house and shop at Tattingstone, appeared in Days Gone By recently, writes David Kindred.
Tony Burrows, from Capel St Mary, has written with first hand memories of this quaint little shop and public house.
I have found photographs in this newspaper’s archive, taken in November 1988 by staff photographer Owen Hines, which, although taken years after Tony’s time there, capture the atmosphere of this now demolished piece of Tattingstone history.
This small building was a focal point for villagers buying groceries, using the post office, buying a pint and having a chat.
Mr Burrows said his grandparents, Horace and Julia Squirrell, took over the Post Office, shop and pub known as the Orange Box and ran it until 1964.
He said: “The shop was a typical village shop, it sold virtually everything, apart from the normal groceries, sweets, cigarettes and cigars etc, there was chicken corn, chicken meal, paraffin, cottons, buttons and threads, you name it you could get it there.
“Items like sugar, currants and sultanas were bought in bulk and then weighed out to whatever the amount the customer wanted, in the traditional “blue bags” that were used in that era.
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“Whole sides of bacon would be delivered and then de-boned and cut up into its various sections, back bacon, streaky bacon, long back bacon, long back bacon, joints for cooking and the whole gammon cut off, to be cooked into home cooked ham (delicious).”
He added: “The unique aspect about the business was of course the pub attached to the shop, or the “Orange Box” as it was affectionately known, the official title was “Waterloo House”.
“The name was derived from the wooded cladding of the building.
“The pub was also unique because the licence for the building was restricted to beer and cider sales only. It operated only six days a week (closed on Sundays) and also closed one hour before all the other pubs in the area.
“The reason for this was the property was part of the Cobbold estate (i.e. the brewery) who were in those days the owners of Tattingstone Park and it was thought that the villagers who were employed on the estate would have their ale and then go home ready and fresh for the morning! Of course this did not happen as they left to go to the Wheatsheaf or the White Horse, the two other public houses in the village.”
Mr Burrows said the other unique thing about the pub was that it had no bar. It was a single room with a doorway into a smaller room where the barrels were set up.
“All of the beer was served directly from the barrels via a brass tap,” he recalled. “When a customer came in they would sit down, order their drink, which was poured from the barrel and delivered to the table.
“After my grandfather decided to retire, my wife Heather and I decided to approach the Cobbold brewery to enquire if they would sell the business and premises to us, they agreed and we took over the business on December 5, 1964.
“With the shop being a bit old fashioned we set about bringing it up to date (as per 1964). New shelving was introduced, new scales, a new electric bacon slicer and a new chilled counter top were purchases to introduce a delicatessen counter and a complete repaint. We also made deliveries of groceries etc, free of charge.”
No longer tied to the Cobbold brewery, the couple applied for a full licence which enabled an off-licence to be introduced.
Mr Burrows said: “In the pub we were able to introduce different beers, Adnams Bitter, alongside the new beer sensation at the time, Watney’s Red Barrel and Anglian Mild. At that time bitter was ten old pence per pint.
“We also extended the hours so that they were the same as other pubs in the area, although we decided to keep the trading hours to six days a week.
“While we were there the “Tattingstone Suitcase Murder” took place and the police basically set-up their offices in the bar of the “Orange Box” - very interesting times.
“In 1968, with a family on the way, we left Tattingstone and purchased a post office in Ipswich. We had four glorious years in the village, great customers and good friends, happy memories. Oh those halcyon days.”
If you have memories of life in the past that you would like to share, write to David Kindred, Days Gone By, Ipswich Star/EADT, Portman House, 120 Princes Street, Ipswich, IP1 1RS or email him.