The Hobby Horse

‘A Taste of Alresford’, the recipe book published by Sally March gives some of the history of the ‘Hobby Horse’ in Broad Street: in the book there is a picture of a real wooden hobby horse, but certainly I don’t ever recollect seeing even one of them in the bric-a-brac that was advertised for sale in the original shop! However the picture below, supplied by AlresfordHeritage.co.uk, shows how the shopfront did present itself, back in the 70s and into the 80s.

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For many years Monica Griffin and Guy Ingram kept “The Hobby Horse” in Broad Street as a centre for all their friends, where they served coffee and sandwiches and offered a treasure trove of ‘second hand bric-a-brac and junk’. Sadly Guy died in December 1984. They were both well-known amateur actors, and starred in productions locally and much further afield.

Guy Ingram was often seen in hot summer weather with a wet cloth, like a J-cloth, wrapped round his neck, which he said kept him cool. Probably in the afternoons he needed this, as the Hobby Horse consisted mainly of the one small room at the front with the large shop windows and central door, which would have made it a sun trap in the afternoons, being on the East side of Broad Street. There were no curtains, and coffee was served to the clients on small tables in the windows, amongst the bric-a-brac items that were for sale. There did not seem to be much that was actually sold, other than tea and coffee….we used to buy most of our second hand stuff, like furniture, from the junk shop that was opposite, in Livingstone House.

When Monica left – in 1985 she was quoted as living at 39 West Street, so it was maybe just before then – the Chinese take-away started their business in the building. It is good that they have kept the name “The Hobby Horse”, but the horse above the door seems to have left.

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The Hobby Horse Take-away in 2016.

DSCN2845smallWalking up the path alongside the cemetery, towards Sun Lane, you will be able to see the final resting place of Monica and Guy, the Founders of the Hobby Horse name, near the railings.

Nick Denbow

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