John Light reflects on a Stroud institution, Inprint Books

EASTER Saturday plans had been changed. There would be no trip to Uffington White Horse or Tintern Abbey, or the Sylian Wye, poet William Wordsworth’s “wanderer through the woods”.

Daffodils at Dymock or near at Eastleach would have to wait for another year.

Retail therapy in Cirencester would wait for a few more days.

Word had reached me that Inprint Books was closing and the last day trading was to be Saturday. There was nowhere else to be.

For so many years Inprint represented the very heart of Stroud, but it has been much more. For those of us whose working lives took us away from our roots it has kept our Cotswold heritage in our hearts. A snatched visit would mean so much and there was always a treasure to purchase.

It was the same on Saturday. Kate Jarvis, Naislworth’s first lady of letters, had compiled oral accounts of life in the early 20th century. Many of the writers (or speakers) were contemporaries of my father, who lived in Horsley before the Second World War.

Mike and Joy Goodenough tell me they are “not going to die on the doorstep”. I await any new adventure they undertake with anticipation. With an easy grace they have offered so much over the years.

Mrs Light agrees. While I perused the Cotswold collection she re-visited her childhood reading. Schoolfriend or Dandy and Beano annuals allowed her to roll back the years.

There were other attractions in Stroud. The staff in Woodruffs were bedecked with flower garlands, sashes and attractive garments all representing the joys of a Cotswold spring.

Outside the weather was dark, dank and dismal. Inside was the colour and delights the change of seasons will bring.

A cracking Caribbean food stall was discovered and the music played inside The Shambles marked delighted us, being a couple of a certain age. There was more music elsewhere.

Where have all our pubs gone?

WE are losing too many public houses. The Rose and Crown is the latest, and much lamented is the loss of the Five Mile House at Duntisbourne Abbotts, now a private house.

The Market Tavern in Stroud, surely a prime site, is becoming an unacceptable scar on the face of the town.

At Ampney St Mary, the Red Lion is yet to re-open following the death of much-loved landlord John Barnard. 

Minchinhampton has lost the Halfway House on the common, and there is uncertainty over the town centre site, which should surely remain as a thriving inn.

Of course, the licensed trade has had to deal with change. Necessary and welcome drink-driving laws caused a re-think, after which many emerged with a greater emphasis on food. 

Anti-smoking legislation, so my smoking friends tell me, has not helped the licensed trade, and keeping pubs going has been increasingly difficult.

I can see a trend emerging. Main-road establishments such as the Royal William at Cranham, Hunters Hall at Kingscote, as well as those on our busy highways, are still with us.

The main problems are in our small towns and villages. Cirencester and Tetbury, which I know well from my under-age skittling youth, have lost many well-known names. 

Mrs Light and I have lived in Cirencester for 12 years. In that time five hostelries have gone and one is up for sale.

Tetbury now has many fewer establishments. But there is a bright side. Those remaining, the Royal Oak and the Greyhound among them, are of excellent quality. 

Many would-be country dwellers want a new home “within walking distance of a village pub”. 

Their chance of finding one is rapidly diminishing. They must, as we must, recognise the change in nature of our village life. It seems unstoppable.