Life after lockdown in Washington Village - Independent businesses booming as community returns to village

Businesses have reopened and the community is thriving in Washington Village after lockdown.

Saturday, 29th August 2020, 2:44 pm
Updated Saturday, 29th August 2020, 6:15 pm

Washington Village, or ‘The Village’ as it is known to most, stood eerily quiet during lockdown.

But now the green is busy as people have flocked back to visit the area’s popular businesses.

Although ‘The Village’ is far smaller than most town centres, the quaint area around the green is an attractive destination to visit for people from all across Washington and beyond.

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Business owners in Washington village have their say on life after lockdown

Wayne and Kelly Kennedy run both The Green florist and tea room, in the former village library, and The Forge restaurant on the other side of the village green.

The couple have been taken aback by the support they have received from the community, especially on social media.

"It has been a really positive experience for us,” said Wayne.

"We did not realise what people thought about us until lockdown but we found out when more and more people were contacting us, asking when we would be reopening.

Kimberley Cheetham, landlady of the Cross Keys pub overlooking the green in Washington village

"What we found was how much people missed us. People wanted us to be there.”

With new social distancing measures and steps to protect staff and customers, Wayne and Kelly carried out staggered openings of both their businesses to ensure everything went according to plan.

"It has been better than expected,” said Wayne.

"Having a life is something people have missed. I think people are just looking for somewhere to go to get back to normality.”

Washington Village Green.

The Cross Keys pub which overlooks the green, changed hands during lockdown, but the new landlady said she has been welcomed to the village pub.

Kimberley Cheetham said: "It has been great.

"People are obeying the rules. Even if some of the rules seem a bit mental, people have still been behaving themselves and a lot of the regulars have come back.”

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Conor Snary and Megan Webb at the popular Vinyl cafe on Spout Lane

Just round the corner in Spout Lane, Vinyl restaurant and cafe has been running a takeaway and delivery service over the summer but owner Conor Snary is already looking forward to reopening completely in September.

Conor said: "We reopened on July 4 and it has been really good.

"We have been very busy and we have had a lot of support from the local community. It is going really well

"We are looking at reopening fully in September with social distancing in place. We just want to make sure all the staff are safe – that is the first priority.”

Next door at Fifty Shades hair and beauty, staff have been delighted to return to business – well, most of them anyway.

"Our beautician was ill at the thought of coming back at first, but otherwise, all of us were just excited,” said stylist Vicky Hedley.

Wayne Kennedy who owns both The Forge Restaurant and The Green gift shop and cafe on either side of Washington Village green

"At first, it was as busy as Christmas, but now it is pretty much back to normal.”

"Most of the regulars are back and the ones who have not, we are still in touch with. They are coming back but they are just nervous about doing so at the moment."

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The Green gift shop florist and tea room on Washington Village Green.
Washington Village Green, the historic centre of Washington which dates back more than 1,000 years