Long Melford

Long Melford near Sudbury is reputed to be the longest village in the country with its antique shops, houses, pubs and restaurants strung along the main road in a very early example of ribbon development. Opposite the public library we glimpsed a single example of historic lettering so good it deserves three images.
Long Melford 1
'INSURANCE OFFICE [carved in a semicircle in the apex]
ROBINS ROW LTD [in cut out metal letters mounted on a decorative wrought iron framwork around the whole gable]
BRANCH OFFICE, [these two in white condensed caps on black rectangular panels with white frames either side of the upper bay window]
RAILWAY PASSENGER ASSURANCE [carved into the decorative stone architrave above the front door and windows]'
All capitals and all sans serif.
Long Melford 2-Long Melford 3
This business still operates from this address, which is a pleasant surprise. Here's a period photograph with differing metal lettering (C.J.N. ROW & SONS) and additional lettering on the window and door glazing:
Long Melford 4
The company's website (http://www.robinsrow.com/) contains a potted history from which we quote:

"In 1867 a station-master's pay was so small that Mr. C. J. N. Row had to supplement his income by selling accident insurance to his railway passengers. In the ensuing years the firm developed many more agencies and eventually became C. J. N. Row & Sons when the founder took his son into the business. Throughout the first part of the last century the company prospered, building an enviable reputation for courteous and practical insurance advice within the Suffolk farming community - even though the staff were quite likely to be found playing football in the office when the "Guvnors" were at Bury Market!

 In 1951, Charles Row, the founder's grandson took over as manager and ten years later the firm became a limited liability company. During this period Mr. Row took in three partners Messrs. Hall, Crick and Jackson, each of whom had more than 20 years experience with the firm. Sadly this happy arrangement only lasted until 1967 the company's centenary year, when the last link with the Row family was lost due to Charles' sudden death. Undaunted the business continued to be very ably managed by Stanley Hall and Geoff Jackson and it was only anno domini, which finally persuaded them to look for a sympathetic suitor.

In 1988, the business was acquired by an East Anglian farming consortium, but headed by a non-farmer Richard Robins, whose family firm of Lloyds brokers was formed in 1917. The company changed its name to Robins Row Ltd in 1990. In the past few years, the turnover has increased substantially due to acquisition and the hard work of the staff and support from local connections.

 The company now has three offices. In addition to the well known "Insurance Office" in Long Melford, Robins Row has a small but able team at their office in Basingstoke, Hampshire. The company has also recently aquired Worrell Fry Limited based in Bognor Regis, West Sussex."

Here's a little information about Long Melford station from http://www.subbrit.org.uk/sb-sites/stations/l/long_melford/index.shtml. You can also find images of the station.

In 1846 the Colchester, Stour Valley, Sudbury & Halstead Railway was authorised by parliament to build a 12 mile line between Marks Tey and Sudbury. On 1.6.1847 further Acts were obtained allowing the company to extend from Sudbury to Clare with a branch from Melford to Bury St. Edmunds. The company was leased to the Ipswich & Bury St. Edmunds Railway which was in turn absorbed by the Eastern Union Railway the following month.

The line from Marks Tey to Sudbury opened on 2.7.1849 and on 1.1.1854, the Eastern Counties Railway (ECR) took over the Eastern Union Railway. In July 1860, the newly formed Sudbury & Clare Railway Company revived the 1847 Act and by a new Act of July 1860 they were empowered to build a line from Sudbury to Clare via Melford. However, as soon as the powers were obtained, the ECR took over and immediately sought extended powers to build from Sudbury to Shelford on the London-Cambridge main line, plus a branch from Melford to Bury St Edmunds.

During the period prior to the First World War, the line saw some of its best traffic with through trains between Cambridge and Clacton via Sudbury as well regular freight trains.

The line from Sudbury to Shelford eventually closed entirely on 6.3.1967, with the station buildings being used as residential accomodation.

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