End of an era for Norfolk village as Peter shuts up shop after five decades

Peter Crane who is retiring from the Trowse General Store after 51 years selling the EDP and Evening

Peter Crane who is retiring from the Trowse General Store after 51 years selling the EDP and Evening News. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2014

For five decades he has been a familiar face to families popping into the village store for a pint of milk, their papers and a chat.

But when Peter Crane cashed up the till at the Trowse Village Store yesterday, it was for the final time, as he bid farewell to a shop which has been his life for the past 50 years.

Villagers gave Mr Crane, 73. a special send-off at Trowse's White Horse pub yesterday afternoon to mark his retirement and to celebrate his dedication to the shop in The Street.

Mr Crane has seen many changes since he first took over the shop – not least the bypass.

But such changes were small fry compared to the turmoil which surrounded Mr Crane's early years, when he almost wound up in the Serbian salt mines.

Despite his Norfolk twang, Mr Crane was born Gunter Wolfsbauer in Austria. And when the Russian forces invaded during the Second World War he, his mother and sister were bundled into trucks for the drive to Serbia.

But, at the last minute a lorry driver took pity and, after throwing their belongings in the back of the truck, they were driven back to Vienna.

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Peter's mother married a British soldier named Crane and he and his sister ended up in Norwich, his father's home city.

It was in the 1960s that he took over the shop, with his sister and brother-in-law and Mr Crane, who lives in Brooke, has been at the centre of village life ever since.

He said: 'I had hoped to slip away quietly! It was a hard decision to make. I was going to retire 12 years ago, but I lost my wife, so I carried on. I have enjoyed it. There's been a lot of changes, with the bypass, new people moving in and things becoming computerised, but I think what we've always offered is service.'

The father-of-two is looking forward to spending more time with his family, who live in Northern Ireland and New Zealand.

But he said he will still pop into the shop, which is being taken over by new owners.

He added: 'I am hoping that they will get the same sort of support that I did. A village without a shop isn't special.'

Do you have a story about a local business? Call business editor Ben Woods on 01603 772426 or email ben.woods@archant.co.uk