VILLAGERS came out to celebrate the opening of their new shop as part of a community-led project, writes Kerenza Moore

In the 12 months since the long-standing owner of St Neot’s shop announced his forthcoming retirement, local people have been busy planning a replacement. 

It’s hoped that early next year, a permanent shop building will be erected next to the pavilion in the park. The new build will incorporate a tea room with a kitchen that can be used by local groups. 

In the meantime, a shop has been opened in part of Cott’s Yard, a former farm building owned and renovated by the parish council. 

The new business is owned and run by Tina and Nigel Lapthorne, who also have the Tredinnick and Horizon Farm Shops, together with their daughter Katie and four staff employed from the St Neot area. 

While more compact than the eventual permanent building, the shop is providing all the essentials and is offering home delivery to those who can’t get there in person. 

And thanks to the efforts of all involved, St Neot didn’t have to go a single day without a pint of milk or a loaf of bread, as the new facility was declared open the day after the previous shop shut. 

Joe Rowe is chairman of the steering group which has been pulling the plans together. 

“We’re very pleased that we can keep a shop open – Malcolm (of the Village Store) was kind enough to give us 12 months notice,” he said. 

“We visited 11 or 12 shops in South East Cornwall, some run by the community, and we felt that if we could work with somebody running it privately that would be the best way forward for us.” 

After a survey was done, 122 households replied, with many telling the steering group that they’d like to see a tea room included in plans for the new shop at the park on Doorstep Green, said steering group member Tracey Hooper and parish council chairman Haviland Bunt. 

Thanking the Lapthornes for “taking a punt” and making significant investment in the shop, Cllr Bunt encouraged people to support the new facility and help it to thrive. 

“Thank you to the steering group for all of the work they’ve done behind the scenes to make this possible today.  The plans for the permanent building, which will be an extension to the existing pavilion, are almost ready to be submitted to Cornwall Council. 

“We wish the Lapthorne family well with their new venture and thank them for stepping in to fulfil our need for a village shop.”


As people from St Neot popped in to make their first purchases in the shop, they were also able to discover more about shopkeepers and services of bygone years in the village. 

An exhibition created by the St Neot Historians includes photographs of buildings in their previous guises. Carlyon House, pictured in 1902, was then a licensed premises known as the Carlyon Arms, but has also been a petrol station and a shop. Meanwhile the building which until this week was home of the village shop was also a public house at one time, The Grylls Arms, and has been used as a post office, an undertakers, and a carpenters workshop. Its time as a public house ended in around 1835, says historian Chris Timms: counting the Halfway House and the London Inn, and with the construction of the Carlyon Arms, this would have brought the number of public houses in the parish to four. Three was the limit set by the 12 men (of the Parish Vestry Meeting)  with the sobriety and safety of their parishioners in mind! 

Chris Timms has produced a book “Shops and Services of St Neot” and it’s from this publication that the material for the exhibition is drawn. From the early 1900s, St Neot had a Co-op, the manager of which in 1950 was Mary Bellringer (nee Davey). She took up her position with a starting salary of £5.21 a week. 

Meanwhile an advert written by B K Chegwyn for his newsagent and general store in 1968 could have been composed for today’s new shop: personal service and deliveries are offered, it was ‘a village shop with almost everything in it’, including, goes a rhyme,  ‘notepaper, firelighters, matches and jelly, saffron cakes, sugar, ice cream from Kelly’. 

 The archives, a joint collection with Mount and Warleggan, are carefully researched and kept on behalf of the parish council by  a group of 26 members. 

The exhibition will be available to view in the St Neot Parish Church – and anyone interested in the history of the locality should pay a visit to the St Neot Archives, open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to noon in Cott Yard.