From Ian Johnstone via Facebook: It is with great sadness that I share the news that a staple part of Long Eaton life has come to an end. The Railway & Barter Shop on Main St (known lovingly as RBS) will be closing following the passing of owner Neil Atkinson (my grandfather) after a short illness. The shop closed as normal on Saturday 2nd May. Unknowingly it would be the last day of trading since it opened in 1964.
The shop has been run by Neil and his wife of 67 years, Betty who both worked full time until now, even at the ripe old age of 86. Neil acquired the premises in the mid 1950s and it was initially run as a bookmakers, one of a chain of thirteen in the area. Later, Neil started selling second hand goods. It was during this time that Neil employed a manager named Roy, hence the shop became known as Roy's Bargain Store (RBS).
Roy's tenure was to end in 1975 and so Betty came on board. Because everybody knew the shop as RBS, the name was changed to reflect this. The Railway & Barter Shop was born.
In the 40 years that followed the shop diversified its stock and has since become a beacon for railway and model enthusiasts across the Midlands. Over the years, Neil and Betty's children, Lesley, Jackie, Penny and Philip, as well as their grandchildren Gail, Jonty, Ian, Neil, Holly, Cherry and Imogen have all helped out behind the counter. People would spend hours poring over the hidden treasures within the shop. Of all the huge supplies and goodies hidden away, Neil would be a fountain of all knowledge. An engineer by trade, Neil could turn his hand to all sorts of problems and it was a rare case that would beat him. He would patiently and diligently repair model trains as well as a plethora of other mechanical and electrical items - including those that had not been bought there and often for free.
The growth of online shopping has of course played its role and in recent times the shop was not as busy as it once was in its heyday. However, a core of loyal regulars have always been on hand to keep Neil and Betty busy. As well as running the shop, Neil was a prominent member of the Long Eaton Chamber of Trade, working tirelessly to promote business within the town.
A true Erewash man who contributed amazingly to the community, Neil was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather. He passed away peacefully at home at 11.10am on Saturday 30th May surrounded by his family. He brought a huge amount of joy to our lives and will be sadly missed.