When thinking of High Street shops today, one imagines the chain store outlets that can be found in major cities across the globe. Not so in Brockenhurst. It is possible to drive through this village for years without coming across Brookley Road, which is the high street. Jackie, Ian, Becky lead this group of pedestrians on the way to the rows of small, local, shops.
Somehow the buildings in this thoroughfare, some dating from the nineteenth century, have escaped succumbing to corporate facades.
The ladies and gentlemen’s outfitters, Reynolds, for example still sports its original entrance complete with adjustable front railings.
Day Lewis Pharmacy still has its original windows.
Jackie parked opposite Brock Ante and led our daughter inside the antiques shop where we had bought one of Becky’s Christmas presents. In view of what I was about to see, the name of the barber was rather fortuitous.
A short while later, Knots, Knits & Crafty Bits opened their door to display enticing yarns.
Alongside Splish Splash stand Village Veg and Village Butcher.
As I reached this point, I encountered Ian, who had wandered further down the street. He alerted me to the ford.
Heavy overnight rain had converted much of the forest into a mini Lake District. Some roads we had driven through were awash, and ditches lining the route into this end of Brockenhurst had run into the stream that was forded at the end of the street.
This made the signpost ‘High Street via Ford’ even more descriptive.
Although some vehicles made an about turn and did not venture into the rushing water, others, at varying speeds, carried on through. The faster the car, the more the spray.
Ian came back to join me and we walked together back to the shops.
A queue had now formed outside Bakehouse. The youth of those present suggests that the bakers are feeding the students of Brockenhurst College, which must contribute to the village’s prosperity.
My earlier photograph also shows Best Sellers which is being decorated. I do hope that does not mean that this bookshop has closed down. I will keep an eye on it.
The Post Office, a survivor of an ever-reducing band, stands next to Reynolds and the delicatessen. Jackie’s Modus is parked outside the pharmacy. In how many high streets could this happen?
After our rendezvous we all drank cappuccinos in The Buttery.
Possibly the most modern building in the street is the Dynasty Indian Restaurant, to which we returned this evening.
Dimly visible on the pavement, a couple of ponies lurked outside.
The food was excellent and the service friendly and efficient. The staff offered to photograph the group. A notice proclaimed that reading glasses were available for customers who had forgotten to bring theirs.
We shared onion bhajis, and an egg paratha. My main meal was ayre jalfrezi with special fried rice. Becky drank zinfandel rose and the rest of us drank Kingfisher.
In order to highlight Gordon Le Pard’s important comment I append it here:
‘I, Like my brother, know Brock and its watersplash well. But on another note, here is a game you can try to see how historic a high street is. You will soon notice that, however modern the shop fronts are, they are all about the same width. If you pace it out you will find that they are about five paces wide, or ten or fifteen. This is because when the street was laid out the Saxon or medieval surveyors used the measurement of a rod, 5½ yards to lay them out.
The measurements remain as one of the most difficult things to move is a boundary, unless you own the lands on both sides, which is the origin of the two and three rod (pole or perch) width shops.’