If you walk back through A.T Welchs grocers shop on Hospital Street in Nantwich, Cheshire, browsing the well stocked shelves of this quality delicatessen, you will find a secret – the yesteryear Shoppe. Quite by accident I stumbled across the door just next to the cheese counter and it really is like stepping back in time into a 1940s tea shop – men with brown over coats serve you your freshly made order. More usually for us this is their signature dish of their own homemade “bangers and mash” from their own pork butchers. There is a care and a pride that is palpably translated into the food, how it is served and the feeling of the place.
A thought provoking collection of ration books scatter the counters. Old but familiar brands on large containers leap out at you, big OXO signs on the wall, Liptons Tea. You are transported back to a time where self service was unthought of, as was prepackaged goods – all was carefully measured to your exact requirements, orders would be left to be couried later by bike, in what ironically now we would consider now to be a very environmentally friendly way. I think that’s an idea worth reinstating and would instantly get rid of much bemoaned excessive packaging.
The yesteryear shoppe is a collection built up over years and it evokes a timely reminder that not so long ago, very careful thought was needed for the provision of food. You’ll often find a queue for the tea shop at peak times but rather than let impatience win, let it give you the opportunity to savour the atmosphere, look at the fascinating items, some of which I remember lurking in my grandmother’s cupboards, while the chink of tea cups on saucers, and convivial conversation surrounds you.
Do leave yourself enough time to brose the packed shelves which stocks all kinds of gorgeous jams and other useful food items, like milk, Welsh and farm butter, Jersey cream and a wonderful range of cheeses, including their own pork butcher, as well as chocolates, puddings, sweets, teas and coffee. If you can time your visit with Nantwich market day on the last Saturday of the month, all the better, as you can arrive laden and exhausted with your shopping for a lovely cup of tea in this enchanting tea shop. Oh, I almost forgot to mention, do bring cash, as there are no card payment facilities, just good old fashioned coins and notes – Do visit soon.