Hopkins of Market Lavington

A recent gift to the museum was a pad of unused bills/receipts that were all ready to be used by Hopkins Brothers, builders, merchants and ironmongers of Market Lavington.

Hopkins Brothers bill pad

Hopkins Brothers bill pad

Bills of this kind have all but vanished now, with the advent of electronic tills, but many shops used to use them. The items purchased would be hand written on the sheet and the shopkeeper would need to add up totals. A piece of carbon paper was used to keep a copy on the sheet underneath in the pad – which was just a plain piece of paper. This top copy was given to the customer. Every page has a serial number. This one, and the blank page under it, are both numbered 451.

Such pads were not cheap to produce but manufacturers could help to defray the cost to the retailer by advertising. In this case it is Hall’s Distemper which makes a splash on each bill head.

Distemper is something else that has almost vanished from the present day world. It was a form of paint based around powdered chalk with a gelatinous substance and colouring. It was not all that durable and not at all washable but was used as a wall paint for interior work.

These bills have no date on them, beyond 19xx but we know that Hopkins had premises advertising Hall’s Distemper in the 1930s. We have this photo of the premises.

Hopkins premises in the 1930s, Church Street, Market Lavington

Hopkins premises in the 1930s, Church Street, Market Lavington

This building, which carries an enamel sign for Hall’s Distemper, stood on Church Street and later it was taken over by Mr Milsom who ran his car workshops here. Now the neat little housing estate known as Milsom Court is on the site.

The products in the window of the shop are interesting. There are small hand pushed lawnmowers, chicken wire, Belfast sinks, lots of buckets and even a bath and a toilet pan. It all reminds us that 80 years ago Market Lavington was a very self sufficient place.

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