Norfolk home: a converted butcher’s shop in Heacham
PUBLISHED: 15:38 10 May 2019
A well-known Heacham couple have turned their old business site into wonderful holiday homes
One question I always ask homeowners for the fact file that runs with this feature is: 'What is your favourite...?' It is interesting that names and places often repeat themselves, proving that they are indeed popular.
One in the 'favourite interiors shop' category that has appeared often is Bradfields of Heacham. So I was delighted when Pam and Graham contacted me about their new projects.
"My great grandfather Thomas Bradfield, who was originally a coalman, started the business in 1898 when he toured around the villages and surrounding area with a horse and cart, from which he sold china and hardware," says Graham. "As his business grew, he built the original shop at 78 High Street, Heacham, which he ran with his wife Rose. They had two sons, Thomas, my grandfather, and George.
"Both men ran the shop until the Second World War changed the path of the business. George's son Ray was killed when his plane was shot down; after that he did not want to continue anymore, which left Thomas's son Don and daughter Jean to take over.
"They continued to move the business forward, with the advent of self service in the 1960's and a new extended shop facade. They also ran a successful door-to-door hardware delivery service encompassing all the local villages which my dad thoroughly enjoyed as he was able to interact with all the villagers.
"They also had a thriving delivery service selling bulk oils to local farmers and also introduced furniture and beds to the expanding ranges sold.
"After leaving the King Edward Grammar School in King's Lynn, I joined Campbell's Soups, progressing from cost accounts through to purchasing and marketing. I really enjoyed my years there especially being involved in photo shoots and TV commercials for the company," says Graham.
"These experiences put me in good stead for my next adventure in 1979 when I joined the family business. During the first 10 years I expanded the floor space and developed the bed sales and more product ranges, especially the trend for built-in furniture. A lot of evenings were spent assembling the furniture ready for installation the next day. It was a lot of years of hard manual work as well as doing all the paperwork. But it was lovely being my own boss."
Pam and Graham first met when she used to spend summer holidays at Heacham in her parents' caravan. Pam came from Peterborough and, after leaving school, worked for the British Sugar Corporation and Leicester Building Society before they married in 1971. She then worked for the Alliance Building Society, in King's Lynn, as office manager before leaving to have a family. Oldest son Tom, 37, is head of imagery at Net-a-Porter, London, and Jeremy, 33, is a composer/actor/musician in Newcastle.
After bringing up the boys she joined Graham in the shop and they gradually began to move into a more upmarket position. About 12 years ago a decision was made to join the house next door and make it into a show house to highlight their stock. It gave people opportunity to see the products in a home environment.
This proved highly successful as it was a unique situation at the time for Norfolk, way ahead of its time. People came from a large area to visit the show house and their 'cake and coffee' Saturdays proved a hit.
In late 2015, difficult decisions were made about the future. Pam and Graham were well over retirement age and as staff were leaving for various reasons they decided that maybe it was time to close.
"It was a hard choice to make after over a century of trading," explains Pam. "However, we came up with a long-term plan. We could have sold the site but, with its family history and in honour to the previous generations' hard work, it was essential to preserve, so selling was out of the question.
"We sold our own home of 26 years and moved into the original house on site. We then started to renovate the properties that had lain empty for years and turn them into luxury holiday accommodation, starting with the Old Butcher's Shop, which we are featuring here, followed by the Old Butcher's Stores, the next chapter.
Using their well-honed design and interior skills each property will be special, as the pictures show. Little do people realise that in the main shop, now the kitchen/dining/living area, there was an enormous industrial freezer and cold store.
The transformation has to be seen to be believed. "We decided on exposing the brick wall and following that theme through," concludes Pam, "giving a warmer feel to the house, what people have termed 'industrial chic'.
"It was very important to us, to inject character, make it modern and stylish and try to make each property individual, but with every modern convenience. This property is much larger than you think as it incorporates the three-bedroom house next door and has three bathrooms, together with sizeable cosy living rooms with wood burner and fires," she says.
"Embarking on this new venture for us is proving very exciting and we are hoping to add one additional property a year. The next one, The Butchers Store's, is now ready. We are now in the middle of adding an extension to the original family house/shop and when that is complete we can move in and release the show house as the next project.
"What is so wonderful, is not only preserving the family heritage, but the opportunity to stay in a part of Norfolk we love and introduce it to others."
The Old Butcher's Shop and The Old Butcher's Stores are available for holiday lettings; contact Norfolk Hideaways norfolkhideaways.co.uk or 01485 558327.
Owners: Pam and Graham Bradfield
Professions: Pam and Graham were the fourth generation to own and run the famous Bradfields department store in Heacham. They have now closed the store and are developing the various buildings into holiday accommodation.
Property: The Old Butcher's Shop and adjoining house.
Converted in: 2017.
Favourite room: The kitchen/dining, as it is a togetherness room, loved by all.
Favourite item: The dining table, made by local builder and joiner Mark, who was responsible for the renovation.
Favourite /pub: The Hero at Burnham Overy Staithe. Good food and nice atmosphere.
Favourite restaurant: The Duck at Stanhoe.
Favourite day out: Norwich, a city with character.
Favourite interiors shop: When it was open, it had to be our own, Bradfield of Heacham. Nowadays we both love Bayfield Antiques; such an eclectic mix.
Favourite walk: Holkham Beach. Very beautiful.
Waste of time?: Pam: Interior magazines and books. Graham: Telegraph crossword.
Hobbies: Pam: interior design. Graham: cycling, walking, music.
Most magical moment in Norfolk: Having our family come and stay all together.