IT WAS their life-long dream to open a shop – and now members of a Basingstoke family are celebrating the amazing achievement of the dream lasting 50 years.

Husband-and-wife team Charlie and Amy Pyle first opened up Linden Market, in Linden Avenue, Old Basing on October 15, 1964.

Before opening the shop, Charlie had learned the trade with his father, and had run a stall selling fruit and vegetables in Basingstoke and in London for 15 years.

It was Charlie and Amy’s dream to have a store of their own, and five years before it opened, the pair embarked on the mission of purchasing the land and building the store from scratch with the help of family.

When the opening of the shop was reported by the Hants and Berks Gazette, Amy said: “At last, we have got our own shop, and we would like to thank everyone who has helped us in the building and installation”.

Charlie added: “Now we have got the shop, we intend that Linden Market will compete in price with any supermarket in the town or district. I am convinced this can be done and we aim to do it.”

And the determined couple didn’t disappoint, with the shop still being open, and in the family, 50 years on.

The shop is now run by Charlie and Amy’s son and daughter, Bob Pyle and Mary Salmon, who took over after their parents died within six months of each other, 15 years ago.

The store has grown significantly since it first opened – it has been extended twice – and after opening with help from a few family members, it now employs 18 part-time members of staff.

However, it is clear to see that the sibling team are keen to keep the memory of their parents’ vision alive, with old newspaper cuttings and pictures of the original shop displayed around the store.

And to celebrate the milestone anniversary, Mary and Bob held a special party last weekend. Shoppers were treated to a barbecue, face painting and a range of deals with a number of items being sold for 50p to mark the golden anniversary .

Mary, who was just four when her parents opened the shop, told The Gazette that she was “proud” to have kept the shop open despite challenges such as having a family and competition struggles with big name local supermarkets.

The 54-year-old mother-of-two, who lives above the shop, said: “We have always been in the business after we left school. We are very lucky to have some loyal customers who come back in but we do get a lot of new faces as well.

“We feel very proud, and we think our parents would be. It was my father’s dream to build a shop, and he did it, and it is still here.

“It is very hard work. We have always worked together even when we were children. We are very thankful to our customers, and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Father-of-three Bob, who is 63 and lives in London Road, Old Basing, added: “We are still enjoying it and it will be a while until we retire yet.”

To remember their parents, Mary and Bob will be putting a memorial bench in honour of their parents on the official 50th birthday of the shop in October.