Reopened Penshurst store forges community links

BACK TO THE FUTURE The Forge Stores team at the official reopening (Photo: Nick Webster)

A THREE-year revamp of a mechanic’s garage and filling station has left Penshurst with a community hub and shop that doubles as an outlet for local goods.

Originally the village smithy on the High Street, Forge Stores became a garage and filling station, with a Post Office and convenience store added later. However, when the mechanic decided to retire, the lease returned to Penshurst Place Estate, which undertook the redevelopment.

At the opening event, Penshurst honey and honey soap were already on sale, with fruit, vegetables, drinks, meats, freshly-baked bread and other artisan products are being sourced from Kent and Sussex and wherever possible.

The Penshurst blacksmith has returned to the site of the old forge, although he will only be demonstrating his heritage tools rather than using them.

Speaking at last week’s opening, Tonbridge MP Tom Tugendhat said: “Forge Stores is at the heart of the Penshurst community. It was there for us all during Covid and is essential to many of us for the Post Office, food, petrol and simple convenience of our village.

“I am delighted it’s back and open with the support of Penshurst Place Estate. I will be shopping here again and look forward to seeing it serve our community for years to come.”

The heir to Penshurst Place, Dr The Hon Philip Sidney, said: “In tough times it is more vital than ever to make sure that rural communities can get hold of what they need locally – be it local produce, petrol or postage – and I know that the stores will be an asset to villagers and visitors alike.”

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