The business-minded village of Codicote
PUBLISHED: 06:00 29 July 2016 | UPDATED: 08:53 05 August 2016
Whether it’s bringing the community together for an event or work, this bustling, pretty village between Hitchin and Old Welwyn has a can-do attitude
Food & drink
John Sarling has run Codicote Butchers for the past 28 years, continuing a line of butchers in the village going back to 1876. Fresh cuts are complemented by pies, fresh vegetables and chutneys. Sarling is well-known in the village for his expert advice and believes in giving his customers a good product and service.
‘If you go in any decent butchers you get what you want, not what someone wants to give you,’ he says. And while independent butchers continue to struggle against superstores, he is optimistic for the future of high street service: ‘I think the public will eventually go back to a traditional butcher. People want to know what they are eating.’
Café 77 also focuses on quality ingredients and takes a fresh approach to the traditional idea of such a place, being housed in a converted shipping container.
‘We are not like a typical burger van – our food speaks for itself,’ says owner Rowan Patel. He sources his ingredients locally, from award-winning bacon and sausages to fresh bread from Katies in nearby Welwyn. The breakfast baguettes from this quirky stop-off are a firm favourite locally.
Each Thursday, Ian Barber arrives to offer the village a selection of ‘Fresh Grimsby Fish’, as the signage on his smart van says. He was asked to come to the village as residents missed the fishmonger when it closed. ‘When and where you want it and how much you want to buy’ is his motto. If people can’t get to his Ian’s Plaice service beside the Goat pub, he will deliver, which he says his older customers appreciate.
If a pub could be termed a community hall, then the Goat fits the bill. It sells good honest pub grub, while landlady Brenda Dovey’s more exotic Creole-inspired jambalaya is a favourite. She and her husband Graham have been pulling pints in the village for 24 years. ‘It’s a lovely village and a good place to have a pub,’ she says. ‘We have a loyal following and have always been involved in the community.’ This stretches from championing local musicians – Brit Awards winner James Bay played at the Goat in his early days – to auctioning fruit and veg for the harvest festival and giving the village choir a base. Until the annual music festival became too big for the car park and garden, it also hosted Goatfest (this year the festival will be held on the village’s Great Field on September 16-17).
As well as the Goat, the village has another two family-run pubs, the Bell, which has 25 guest rooms, and the Globe, newly refurbished by Herts brewery McMullen and with popular Thai chef curry nights.
The Robart family opened a business in the village 175 years ago selling tea. Since then, the high street shop has diversified into the convenience store it is today. It recently rebranded as a Costcutter and has a popular wine and beer section, fruit and veg and delicatessen. Fifth-generation store owner Josie Chamberlin says she plans to offer wine-tasting events soon.
People seeking a sweet treat make a bee-line for the Red House, a newsagent shop that specialises in old-fashioned sweets.
‘There are many old favourites that are still about,’ explains owner Richard Morley, surrounded by 80 jars of goodies. ‘It’s lovely to see people’s faces light up when they see them. It takes them back to their childhoods.’ His favourite? ‘Whatever I’m eating.’
Health & beauty
Codicote Pharmacy offers a delivery service to anyone housebound since, because the place is a village, public transport is sparse, explains pharmacist Jaymini Vibhakar.
‘Having a pharmacy in the village means we can act as a go-between with the doctor’s surgery and advise on anything minor, saving a doctor’s time,’ he adds.
Offers men’s and women’s hair and beauty for the village and surrounding areas, the Hair Studio is out to keep Codicote looking good.
Russell Green, who runs the salon with his wife Karen, says, ‘We are competitive and offer everything under one roof. Clients who have been coming here for 20 years now bring their children. I think Codicote is lucky, there are lots of businesses here.’
A relative newcomer to the village is the Flat Earth, which opened two years ago specialising in electric bikes. The name comes from how these bikes effectively flatten the earth for the rider, as the engine takes the strain when needed.
‘It’s a different experience from a standard bike and appeals to all ages from students to pensioners,’ explains owner David Blane. ‘They make commuting by bike a practical reality for ordinary people and bring back the joy of cycling to many who cycled in the past. In the UK, we are just at the catching up with the rest of Europe.’
Home & garden
Situated just outside the village, Little Orchard Nursery has a secret garden charm. Owner Sue Lucas loved gardening and her partner Richard’s family had been in the horticultural trade. When an opening came up in the village they jumped at the chance, she says. The nursery grows a wide a variety of plants from pansies to primroses. Lucas admits it is ‘extremely hard work’ but says she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. ‘On a lovely day it is glorious. I have the birds singing and the views across the countryside. It’s perfect,’ she says.
Gardeners are spoilt for choice in the area, with a large Wyevale Garden Centre also in Codicote. Stay on the same road (B656) heading towards Knebworth and you’ll also find Vanstone Park Garden Centre.
Farlight Blinds and Curtains offers a mind-boggling range of window dressing options for the home and office and installs them too.
Teresa Saunders wanted to run her own business and took the step of opening Premier Dry Cleaning 12 years ago. She says Codicote was the perfect choice as it is a pretty village with plenty of passing trade. As word of mouth grew, so did the custom and services now include ironing, laundry and alterations. People come from as far away as Biggleswade to use the service, Saunders says. The secret to her success? ‘If you don’t do a good job people don’t come back. It’s as simple as that.’ w