Cuffley's Station Road: Historic yet modern
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 August 2016
Take a walk down Cuffley's historic Station Road to find village shops and services that are thriving in the 21st century
It was the railway that really opened up Cuffley to the wider world in 1910 and gave new life to the picturesque village between Potters Bar and Cheshunt. And it’s Station Road where much trading still takes place today. Like all villages it has had its challenges, but its business owners are a determined lot and have diversified to remain relevant and indeed thriving. This is a village with a welcoming feel, great characters and old-fashioned friendly customer service.
Home & garden
Gorgeous gifts for loved ones (and yourself – well why not?) can be found at The White Ribbon.
At this treat for browsers, Vivian Hopson and Elaine Chapman sell jewellery, candles, handbags and ‘lots of things in between’.
‘We are always on the lookout for something new to stock,’ says Hopson. ‘But we would never choose anything that we would not have in our own homes.’
Diane Negus from Cut n Dried has been arranging flowers in Cuffley for 28 years. Like any other element of the home and garden, she says, tastes in flowers change.
‘It was quite a contemporary look a couple of years ago but at the moment it’s country-garden and vintage style – roses, peonies, what I call soft flowers. Gypsophila is back in fashion, whereas a couple of years ago no one wanted it.
‘Whatever is happening in London will spread out here in about a year’s time. Flowers are like clothes really; they come back in fashion, but in a different way.’
For interior design with a difference, Cuffley people head to Excelsior Kitchens, which will assist the designer in all of us.
‘We transfer customers’ thoughts and ideas into reality.’ explains manager Albert Barnett.
The latest trend? ‘A kitchen is not just a kitchen any more; it’s a social room. People want huge kitchen islands. It’s a social meeting point – you can cook, sit or stand around them.’
As massive DIY chains have grown in dominance, independent hardware shops and the knowledgeable characters behind the counters have become a rare breed. At 85, Ken Akers is one of the old school. He worked in the rag trade for more than 30 years for the Lovable Brassiere Company. He then swapped B-cups for U-bends when he came to work for his late brother David at Cuffley Building Supplies.
Years ago there was a builder’s yard at the back, but these days it’s all in-store with a stock of wonderfully intriguing boxes and packets. It is a real domestic treasure trove, and Akers lives up to it. ‘I try and do a little bit of everything,’ he explains.
It’s a bit like the set of the Two Ronnies’ classic sketch – a place to find fork handles and four candles too. In fact, Akers’ nephew calls him Arkwright, after another storekeeper immortalised by Ronnie Barker.
There are boxes of screws stacked up to the ceiling. ‘In the big stores you have to buy a packet but I will still sell just one if you want one.’
Health & beauty
Another retailer with lots of charm is Maroulla Triplow of Maroulla Designs. She used to work with the fashion designer Jeff Banks and now uses her clothes-making skills to ‘design, alter and fix everyone else’s mistakes’.
In the past couple of months she has been busy with prom dresses, but this fairy godmother of fashion can also produce the right creations for brides, bridesmaids and mothers-of-the-bride from just a sketch.
For hair and beauty in sumptuous surroundings, head to Rococo. The name comes from the ornate vintage furniture in the salon that owner Melanie Beanlands has sourced from antique fairs and sales. Nearby, the Village Dental Practice is also in business to make people smile.
Andy Georgiou of Cuffley Barbers says he has seen men become more particular about their appearance in recent years. The short back and sides with traditional hot towel shave has become a cut with beard trim and a tidy-up of the eyebrows too.
Nilesh Bathia of the Salepick village pharmacy has also seen things change over the 37 years he has run the company, with a shift in recent times from family doctor and hospital to pharmacist. ‘My prime business has always been prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines but we give more advice now, which eases the pressure on GPs and hospitals. People are putting more trust in the pharmacies rather than making an appointment with their GPs.’
Papers, food & drink
Wackett & Son newsagent is oldest shop in Cuffley, having traded for more than 90 years. The business goes back four generations and is still a real family affair. Founder Sibley Wackett began by selling newspapers from his bike and the business diversified throughout the years, at one time selling bikes, soap and even goldfish. Today it is run as a traditional newsagent.
Third-generation Vivienne Pettingale believes its success is down to hard work and family unity, ‘If someone goes on holiday, someone else helps,’ she says. ‘Even the grandchildren help out for a few sweets.’
The Orchard Flower serves fresh food daily, from wraps and sandwiches to home-made cakes and cookies. Drinks include freshly-ground coffee and speciality teas, while customers with a sweet tooth will love the hot chocolate made from Belgium chocolate.
Simmons the bakers is another popular lunch spot, making up whatever you fancy, while the Grape Vine off-licence has a good selection of wine and beers to take home for the evening.
The Two Brewers pub in the next-door pretty village of Northaw offers an la carte menu and a 38-dish tapas selection. It offers a warm welcome to visitors, ‘Pop in, relax and bring us your smiles and conversation so we can get to know you,’ they say.