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7th December 2016

Channel 4 presenter plans to reopen historic post office on Purley’s Webb estate


TV presenter Laura Hamilton and her husband have bought The Lord Roberts

A television presenter and her husband have rescued a “much-loved” post office on an upmarket Purley estate from permanent closure and plan on reopening the branch as well as converting part of the historic village shop into a new deli and cafe.

Laura Hamilton, best known for presenting Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun, and her husband Alex Goward, who was born in Purley and went to Whitgift School, have bought The Lord Roberts on the Webb estate in Purley.

The couple have lived on the exclusive estate for the last three years and were saddened by the closure of the convenience store and post office, in Upper Woodcote Village, in August when owners of 19 years Mike and Jill Marsh retired and found a new home abroad with the help of Laura

Rather than see the shop, originally opened by William Webb in 1907 as a temperance inn that didn’t sell alcohol, left empty Laura and Alex have stepped in and purchased the property from Carol Webb and her husband Ken Webb – William’s Webb’s grandson.

Laura, 34, said: “It was a big thing for everyone that lives in this community when the shop closed. It is a much loved historic shop and many people were concerned about what would happen to it.

“It has made me sad to walk or drive past the shop in the last four months and see it sat empty. My two children Rocco [who is three] and Tahlia [who is 18-months-old] were both born since we moved here and Rocco remembers going there to get sweets, he still points it out.

“From the talks we had with Mr and Mrs Webb we knew they wanted to make sure the site has a future as a shop and remains at the heart of the community.

“One of our main aims is to reinstate the post office. Thanks to Jill she has connected us with the relevant people and we are in the process of making an application. I will have to be interviewed for my suitability as a postmistress.

“We have been working with an architect to ensure the design of the new village shop will reflect the charm and history of estate, while also allowing us to put our own touches on it..

“We will renovate the shop to create a delicatessen in the shop and plan to sell artisan breads, serve fine coffee, afternoon tea, as well as a ploughman’s lunch. We want to keep the charm of the village shop but also put our own touch on it so there will be nothing like this in the area.

“Just as before we intend on selling newspapers and want the shop to be a friendly meeting place for families, with courses and little events put on too.

“We are also working on lovely plans for the garden.”

The aim is to have the shop open by April or May and it will be called Lord Roberts on The Green. The original shop was named after Field Marshal Frederick Roberts, who Mr Webb greatly admired as one of the most successful commanders of the 19th century.

Artist impression of the new logo for the Lord Roberts on the Green shopLaura, who finished second in Dancing on Ice in 2011, will continue to spend about 12 days a month filming so a manager will be employed but she will help to run the shop when she is in the country.

The closest post office branch currently open is in Hillcrest Parade, Coulsdon, and Laura hopes if the plans get the go ahead that the shop will be used by people further afield in Purley and Coulsdon.

It has been an annual tradition for a Christmas tree to put up above the front door of the shop and Alex and Laura are going to continue this.

The tree will be put up next Friday (December 16) and the couple are inviting residents to join them to find out more about the plans while enjoying canapés, drinks, mince pies between 4pm and 8pm.

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