Some memories from family, customers and staff
The Winter of '63
Dick Orchard used to tell of his adventures in the big snows of 1963. Out in the countryside around Brook and Brighstone the snow drifts were so deep that it was like driving through a tunnel of snow in places. Ron Turley and Dick made it as far as Dolly Millmore's cottage on the Military Road between Brighstone and Atherfield with some much needed supplies. Molly surprised Dick by saying, "Don't step back Mr Orchard or you'll be down the well!"
The Great Storm of 1990
The premises received considerable damage as trees in Farringford park fell across Bedbury Lane. One damaged the roof of Whitecliffe Cottage, narrowly missing the infant Jonathan Orchard as he enjoyed his daytime nap.
Many years ago, it must have been in the early 1940s, my father Bert, who was an early riser, would many a time go up to Orchards' bakehouse, after a walk down to the Bay, and he would bring home a hot loaf.
He would bang on the ceiling under my bedroom with a broom handle - down I would come, and he would always cut the loaf against his chest, bringing the knife forwards. As he did so the black crust would fly off the loaf. The slice would have a lump of butter spread on it, and as the butter melted into the bread, he would say “there you are nipper, now get that back!”
I never needing telling twice: why do these simple moments stay in one's mind? 72 years is a long time ago.
An old friend of ours who had emigrated to Australia came to stay and said he had looked in vain all over the country (UK) for some grapenuts breakfast cereal which he had promised his 5 children in Australia he would bring back as they didn't have any there. I immediately said he might get some at Orchards so he went up to the shop but they weren't in stock. However your father took his name and Australian address and some weeks later they arrived in Perth ... amidst great rejoicing. My friend has never forgotten this wonderful service.
On another occasion ... my helper arrived one morning and told me there was going to be an awful snowstorm and instead of leaving my shopping list to be delivered next day I should go up to Orchards and fetch everything I needed at once. So I gave my list to your father and told him the dreadful forecast and that he might not be able to deliver the next day. He drew himself up to his full height and said even in the great blizzard at the end of the 19th century they had delivered all the stores to Brighstone by boat and if the worst came to the worst they could bring everything down by sledge!
Pauline Tyrell nee Pitman:
Following in the footsteps of my older sister Jean who worked in the store 1949-1955, I started in 1960 and worked with Muriel Campin-Lowe in the office. Having said that, I also served in the shop, put up orders and even cycled round in all weathers to collect orders when the regular roundsman, Ron Harding, was off. I recall Wyn Whitmore working in the house, and Nesta bringing in afternoon tea, bless her. 'Uncle' Bill was so amused to find that Muriel and I shared the same birthdate he gave us a 10/- note, some of which we spent on Jaffa cakes. Happy days!
My Saturday and holiday job between 1958/1960 were spent weighing up and putting into cartons very sticky glace cherries, also almonds into bags and various other items that came in large tins, weighing up the sugar and putting into blue sugar bags. Carrying the boxes with the tins of Heinz and Bachelors soups up the stairs in the warehouse after the delivery was unloaded. Later I went on the "country" bread round with Peter Hall, delivering to Brook, Brighstone, Calbourne and over to Newtown, far better than all that weighing up.
In the 1960's Orchard Bros lardy cakes were to die for! Ham was baked in a dough crust on the premises, real cheeses wore cheesecloth, bacon and cold meats were sliced to required thickness, deliveries were frequent with orders collected from the home, taken in the shop and taken over the phone. Chairs were provided for those needing them, staff knew customer's preferences and nothing was too much trouble. Much of this is still true of today.
I remember when working at Orchard Bros seeing Mr May coming down Bedbury Lane on his bicycle, in the rain, with an open umberella...we were afraid he might take off...
I also remember staff singing to Dick a song composed by Frank Shutler suggesting a rise in wages...it didn't work...