Barry Cram: Patrick’s Shop - known affectionately as Nellie’s, after the proprietor, Mrs Nellie Bond, nee Patrick, had double black doors, with only access through one, by pushing down a latch. This narrow door was heavy, solid and thick; and when opened, it seemed as if a person was entering a different era.
There was little floor space, only standing area for about five adults, as the two counters - one with the till to the right, and one ahead - took up most of the shop area; these counters were joined by a hatch. The high shelves on the walls were filled with wonderful things. For such a small shop, it seemed to sell any and every obscure thing: laces, fuses, plugs, fluorescent light tubes and light bulbs, etc. Whenever a customer bought a light bulb, Nellie took it out of the box and tested it in an electric socket under the counter, before putting it back into the box - how thoughtful is that?
Although the shop had a till, Nellie preferred to reckon up from left to right with pencil and paper - an ability that fascinated me.
Nellie’s husband, George, a placid man, was a very talented artist and photographer, and could often be seen, out-and-about, taking photographs of the locality - so I guess he was probably an amateur historian.
Both Nellie and George were lovely, warm people, and always had time for a chat - and Nellie had such an infectious laugh. I, like many others, always felt so welcome when entering their shop.
Patrick’s Shop was a link to bygone times. It was the last piece of living history in the Colliery; it was part of so many of our lives, and created so many good and happy memories; many folk were saddened to see it go.
My last memories are of a sad, lonely shop, standing guard as a last bastion of hope – a hope soon razed in the 1990s.
God bless Nellie and George for the service they gave to our community.