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Old pet shop to close

PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 July 2009 | UPDATED: 08:19 01 August 2010

HE has lived there since he was a toddler, but now Oliver Ranken is preparing to say goodbye to the only home he has ever known.

His mother Eleanor bought number 10, Market Place, Halesworth, with a female friend in 1946 and the pair ran a school from the large, historic building in the town centre.

HE has lived there since he was a toddler, but now Oliver Ranken is preparing to say goodbye to the only home he has ever known.

His mother Eleanor bought number 10, Market Place, Halesworth, with a female friend in 1946 and the pair ran a school from the large, historic building in the town centre.

Mr Ranken, known locally as Nolly, was a pupil at the school and fondly remembers children sleeping in dormitories on the top floor, which until very recently contained the original cast iron beds.

The 64-year-old yesterday recalled how the rooms downstairs were used as a classroom and a dining room and the garden outside was a playground. The top floor has not been touched since the 1950s and the attic rooms with wooden floors and beams look the same as they did all those years ago.

Mr Ranken said that despite these early happy years his mother found it difficult financially to keep the school going and after finding rabbits abandoned on the premises she decided to run a pet shop from the building.

Mr Ranken took over in the early 1980s and has run Nolly's Pet Shop ever since, providing pet owners with food, toys and other supplies.

He said: “My mother was an animal lover and she started from nothing and built it up. We had a lot of livestock then and she worked very hard. I had worked in a fruit and vegetable shop since I left school and when my boss retired I came to take over. We used to have guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters and gerbils. The children loved to come in and look at them. But later I did stop having livestock and focused on supplies.”

The pet shop was also well-known for its mynah birds which would whistle to customers and ask “how are you?”

Mr Ranken has now decided to retire and he and his partner Rosie are looking to move to a smaller house.

He is putting the property on the market, but intends to keep the pet shop open until Christmas.

“I will be sorry to say goodbye to the place,” he said. “Over the years we have had some very dedicated customers and I would like to thank them for all their support.”

The property was built around 1750 and the first floor has four bedrooms, a kitchen, sitting room and WC. The second floor has a further five rooms, which are accessed via two separate staircases.

The property is registered as A1 retail use with residential upper parts, but agents say it has scope to become a restaurant subject to the necessary planning approval being granted.

The property is being marketed from the beginning of July with offers in excess of £385,000 being sought. Viewings are by appointment with Fennel Chartered Surveyors or Goddards Estate Agents.

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