There are not so many shops in Downham now as there were when I was young. the village was almost self-sufficient. We had three bakers for a start. There was Mrs EM Saberton in Townsend who baked bread and made wonderful cakes. Next to Chamber's Yard was the bakery owned by the Taylors, a family affair where we used to go on Saturday mornings armed with a tanner (2 1/2p) and buy a bun ring and eat it straight from the oven. If we were hard up we bought a small loaf of bread which was cheaper. The other baker was Alfred Saberton whose business was situated where Churchill Court now stands. His green van with the registration JE 1 ran for many years.
We had four grocery shops; Lewis Hull kept the one which is now Proctor's. Joseph Garner plied his trade where the Post Office now stands and what is now the "Humble Spud" was the Thompsons' shop which sold groceries, sweets and also a thriving butcher's shop. Ben Lofts opposite the church sold just about everything. You could buy a packet of fags there from about 5am til abou 8 pm. There were seats in this shop where customers woud tarry a while to hear the local news.
Freddie Gibson had a similar shop, alas burnt out on a windy March morning. This also had seats where the customers argued the evening away. They were like non-alcoholic pubs , these shops, unique but never the less gone.
The post-office was run by Arthur Sennitt and the phone box stood outside. I remember the postmen, Jack Yardy, Wally Hull and Jack Gibson. Between them they served a huge area, biking and walking many miles each day, often in Arctic conditions. You had to be tough to keep a postoffice.