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Ram-raided shop rises from ashes in time for 50th anniversary

George, Sheila and Douglas Johnson at Reepham Post Office and stores, with George's painting behind them. Pictures: David Bale

George, Sheila and Douglas Johnson at Reepham Post Office and stores, with George's painting behind them. Pictures: David Bale

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A post office and store that were ram-raided are rising from the ashes just in time to celebrate 50 years being run by the same family.

Reepham Post Office and stores in 1969 when they took over. Pictures: David BaleReepham Post Office and stores in 1969 when they took over. Pictures: David Bale

A JCB ploughed into the front of Johnson’s of Reepham, on Market Place, on April 25 last year, and a cash machine was removed before the vehicle was set alight.

And it has taken nearly a year to start repair work on the front of the business, which has remained open, due to planning regulations, as the building is listed and in a conservation area.

It was run by George, 82, and Sheila Johnson, 85, for about 35 years before their son Douglas and his wife Carole took over about 15 years ago.

And on May 8, the family are inviting previous staff members including 102-year-old Kay Rose for a reunion at St Michael’s church.

Work has only now started to repair the shop, following last April's ram-raid. Pictures: David BaleWork has only now started to repair the shop, following last April's ram-raid. Pictures: David Bale

The shop’s fame has spread across the world thanks to Mr Johnson senior’s skills as a watercolourist and his paintings being reproduced on postcards sold in the shop, which have been taken elsewhere by people moving out of the town.

Mr Johnson, who grew up in Liverpool, said: “When we first moved in, on May 1, 1969, the Market Place was still a cattle market, and hardly anyone in Reepham had a car. I was known as Liverpool’s ambassador to Norfolk.

“I still work at the post office on Saturday mornings. We’ve still got a mail office so the postmen come in.

“We have kept the 1969 cash book.

Douglas Johnson outside the business last April, after the ram-raid. Picture: Ian BurtDouglas Johnson outside the business last April, after the ram-raid. Picture: Ian Burt

“There was no VAT then and it was much easier. All you needed was a pen, a cash book and a till.

“I never thought that father and son could work together, but it has. My father was in retail so shops are in the blood.”

His wife worked at a post office in Liverpool before they moved to Norfolk.

He added: “It’s been fantastic and we’ve had tremendous times here.

Reepham Post Office and stores has been run by the Johnson family for 50 years. George Johnson with an old picture of the site. Pictures: David BaleReepham Post Office and stores has been run by the Johnson family for 50 years. George Johnson with an old picture of the site. Pictures: David Bale

“We’ve had wonderful staff, and they’ve been like a family.”
The repair work should be finished in about two weeks’ time.

Mr Johnson said that, as far as they knew, no one had been arrested in connection with the ram-raid.

Reepham PO and stores 50 years. Douglas and Carole Johnson. Pictures: David BaleReepham PO and stores 50 years. Douglas and Carole Johnson. Pictures: David Bale

Reepham PO and stores 50 years. George and Sheila Johnson in their younger days. Pictures: David BaleReepham PO and stores 50 years. George and Sheila Johnson in their younger days. Pictures: David Bale

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