The Disappearing Shops of Bilsham Road

Historically, as would be expected in a small country village, many of the trades catered for the needs of the local population. This would change with the improvement in transport when villagers had the opportunity to shop in local towns taking advantage of cheaper prices being offered by the larger shops. Local businesses and traders felt the pinch. Many could not compete and were slowly forced to close. Although some trades and businesses stood the test of time many did not, as is the case in Bilsham Road, Yapton.

One of the earliest traders recorded as operating in Bilsom (Bilsham was known as Bilsom and what is now Bilsham Road was called Bilsom Lane) was a Butcher who was plying his trade in 1335. Five hundred years later, a Beer Seller was selling his brew in the mid to late 19th century from his house, now long since demolished, situated opposite the semi-detached houses on Bilsham Corner. 

Travelling from Bilsham towards Yapton, the first house encountered on the right was the home of a carpenter by the name of George Marner in the mid-19th century but, in the 1881 and 1891 Census Returns, it was referred to as a Beer House with William Hotston as the Beer House keeper. By 1910 it was known as ‘The Lamb Inn’ going on to sell ‘Brickwoods’ beer in the mid-20th century. Its demise came in 2014 when Punch Taverns sold it in the face of fierce local objections, to make way for the construction of ‘Lambs Cottages’. A small industrial estate located behind ‘The Lamb’ had also succumbed to the housing planners a few years earlier and is now a small housing estate.

The Lamb Inn (1955)

Continuing the journey into Yapton (along the B2132) there were two businesses occupying the site that became ‘Bilsham Court’ in 1993, Bilsham Joinery Works and Yapton Service Station.


Yapton Service Station
Business Card

Bilsham Joinery Works
Business Card (1924)

Bilsham Joinery Works was a business established by W. Geatrell in 1924 with a Sales Department offering such items as "Builders' Hardware", ironmongery and paints. A Works Department undertook repairs and alterations, joinery, sectional buildings and fencing. A later advert offered building materials "for all your Do-It-Yourself Jobs" and under the banner of ‘Bilsham Ironmongers’, paints, wallpapers, garden tools, and fertilizers were for sale.

Yapton Service Station was owned and run by C.L.Guiver from 1932 to 1952 offering a ‘Day and Night Garage Service’ as well as being an agent for ‘Austin & Morris Cars’. It had petrol pumps on the forecourt selling, at one time, Cleveland Petrol and a shop selling everything from ice-cream to fireworks. The large workshop at the rear of the premises was originally a barn belonging to the farm which was shown as occupying the site on the 1839 Tithe Map. After several further owners the garage finally ceased trading in the early 1990s.

Yapton Service Station (1960)

Continuing along Bilsham Road the next business premises still remains in business, the only one in the road to survive the pressures exerted by the major supermarket chains. This of course is Bilsham Stores. In 1778 this building was Cinders Farmhouse, occupied by Edward Field. It appears on the 1939 Tithe Map as a ‘Cottage, Yard and Orchard’ with one acre of land, owned by James Skeite Snr. A detached house, Meadowcroft, was built on part of this land in 1950. Mr and Mrs Black were early owners and they operated a mobile ‘wet fish’ business from their garage for a while. Eventually the house was converted into a Doctor’s Surgery now called Meadowcroft Surgery.


Bilsham Stores (c.1900)

Bilsham Stores (c.1990)

One of James Skeite’s grandsons, George Chandler, was to become the first grocer in the future Bilsham Stores. He is listed in the 1895 edition of Kelly’s Directory (a trade directory) as a Grocer and Dairyman. The shop has seen many changes and owners over the years. The original one room shop with the counter on the left with the goods arrayed on shelves for the assistant to gather according to your shopping list is now a self-service store. Originally, on the north side of the building was a corrugated lean-to in which Alfred Essex Coe opened a Cycle Repair shop in 1934. He also offered a Battery Re-plating Service as well as a Radio Installation Service. The lean-to shop was re-built and become Clive’s Hairdresser’s in the 1970s. It changed hands several times, once becoming a Flower Shop. It is now back operating as a Barbers.

Finally, on the left-hand side, as Bilsham Road meets Main Road and Burndell Road at Sparks Corner there is a group of four houses known as Beverley Close. The name comes from a Tea Shop that stood on the site. It was called Beverley Tea Rooms and was built from old railway carriages.

Allen Misselbrook
December 2018

(Originally published in Sussex Local Magazine, Arundel, February 2019)