Stamp of approval

For anyone brought up in the Fifties and Sixties, certainly any boy, the name Eastrington is one that sits pleasantly in the mind, evoking memories of childhood hobbies, of rainy days and the excitement of a new comic.

St Michael's Church, Eastrington. Picture: James Hardisty

Few knew much about the place, except that it was near Goole, for that was its postal address. “Eastrington, Goole, Yorks” appeared for years at the foot of hundreds of small ads in boys’ publications. A stamped addressed envelope to a Post Office box there would bring forth a Pandora’s box of stamps “on approval”, ready for mounting in the albums that almost every boy had.

Dennis Hanson was the entrep­ren­eur behind the cottage industry. At its height, he employed around 20 people, and housed them in a wooden hut in his garden on Vicar Lane. He died two years ago, and this year, in a final twist of irony, the village post office and shop on which his business relied closed its doors.

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It was the last shop in the village - in Mr Hanson’s heyday there had been four - and its closure, says Howdenshire councillor Victoria Aitken, is a big loss.

It is by no means the only village in the East Riding without a retailer, but Eastrington is bigger than the nearby parishes of Laxton and Wressle. In recent years it has grown considerably, with the addition of estates of new houses, and though it retains its farming roots, most of its 1,000 residents commute to York, Hull or even London. The village still has its own station and the main line at Howden is just four miles away.

“People leave at 7.30am and come back at 6.30,” said resident Peter Yates, 69, who believes the closure of the post office shop “killed the soul” of the village. “I went out for a walk the other Saturday and it was awesomely quiet. There was just no-one about,” he said. “It used to be a farming place, now it’s a dormer village.”

Yet in many respects, Eastrington is thriving. “It’s a super little village,” said Coun Aitken. “There is a school, a village hall and a cricket team. But it’s off the main road, so for a shop there’s no passing trade.”

The village hall is a particular focus, notes Simon Pierce, who has run the Black Swan, Eastrington’s only pub, for five years and has heard tell of when the house next door housed “the stamp collection of the world”.

“It’s a fantastic village for families,” he said.

The village is on the supermarket delivery map and boasts decent broadband speeds, but the loss of the shop is nevertheless felt, especially by older residents, the local vicar, Rev Graham Thornalley, said.

What it needs, added Mr Yates, is a modern-day “open all hours” store.

“People interact on Facebook and they don’t go out. They think a social life is watching Britain’s Got Talent,” he said. “There’s no answer to that.”