Inside the Cornish shop that has remained frozen in time for 50 years
Elliott’s shop in Saltash, Cornwall, has been preserved as a museum. (Reach)
Stepping inside this shop in Cornwall is like stepping half a century back in time. Elliott’s store on Lower Fore Street in the town of Saltash looks just like it did in 1971. Fifty years may have passed, but the shop still occupies a vital place at the heart of the community.
While it can no longer compete with the supermarkets of today, the preserved shop now operates as a museum and a key link to the past.
Why was it shut down?
Former owner Frank Elliott closed the business in 1971 rather than give up on pounds, shillings and pence as decimalisation was introduced. : Schools to use facial recognition to take children’s lunch money Before he died in 1995, he said he wanted the store to be a museum.
The shelves of the shop are all timepieces that transport the visitor back to early 1970s Britain. A packet of eight Lyons trifle sponges cost one shilling and eleven-pence ha’penny, while Stork margarine is on special offer for 1/6d (15p). Mr Elliott, a bachelor, decided the family grocery business should become a museum partly as a way to avoid paying newly introduced business rates.
The Avery scales are still on display in Elliott’s shop in Saltash, Cornwall. (Reach)
Some of the tins of food on the shelves of Elliott’s shop in Saltash, Cornwall. (Reach)
He imagined it as a place where future generations would learn what shopping used to look like.
Upon his death in 1995, Mr Elliott left the shop and the two floors of rooms above it to the Tamar Protection Society conservation charity.
100 years old
The shop was established in 1902 and left to Mr Elliott by his father 50 years later. Customers would sit on the chair beside the long polished wooden counter, then hand their shopping list to Mr Elliott. He would weigh items such as butter, cheese and flour on his classic Avery scales.
Frank Elliott serves customers in his grocer’s shop before it closed in 1971. (Reach)
Harry Elliott, Frank’s father, outside the shop he established in 1902. (Reach)
If a customer couldn’t carry all their shopping home, he would arrange a delivery using the store bicycle.
Mr Elliott lived above the shop for 24 years after he closed it, keeping all of the old tins and cardboard packaging for use in the museum. : Car ploughs through library wall, leaving passengers locked inside
The shelves contain Bird’s custard powder, Rowntree’s jelly, Angel Delight, tins of Ambrosia rice pudding, tubes of Signal toothpaste, bottles of Domestos bleach and cartons of Daz, Ariel and Persil washing powder. Mike Couch, vice-chairman of the Tamar Protection Society, said the charity’s small team of volunteers and trustees are working hard to fulfil Mr Elliott’s vision as the inheritors of his entire estate.
The outside of Elliott’s shop in Saltash, Cornwall, gives little clue to the treasures inside. (Reach)
As well as the shop contents, they continue to piece together, catalogue and display evidence of the fascinating experiences and keepsakes of Mr Elliott, his identical twin brother Harry and their younger sister Laura Sophia, none of whom married or had children. The shop is open to schools and organised groups by appointment through the Tamar Protection Society, although it is hoped it will have more opening days in the summer of 2022.
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