Residents of a rural English village have just had their local village shop replaced by a giant vending machine.
Installed outside a pub in the picture-postcard village of Clifton, Derbyshire, the machine means residents can buy essentials such as milk, eggs and pet food for the first time since their grocery shop closed more than 13 years ago.
More vending machines are to be introduced to other villages in the surrounding area over the next few months. They take cash or cards and even send out emails to stockists when goods start to run low.
Electrical engineer Peter Fox, who designed the contraption, said he had the idea years ago but couldn't find a manufacturer, so ended up building it himself.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said he preferred the term 'automatic shop' to 'vending machine'
"The problem with vending machines is that they can't handle the range, weight or the delicacy of a wide range of products such as milk, eggs, bread, washing powder and so on. Our shop can handle all of these and many more besides."
According to The Grocer, Clifton has been without a village shop for 13 years, so the residents are delighted.
Villager Lorraine Garside (pictured) told the magazine: "I don't drive so this is just amazing. It's been really busy so far and everyone loves the idea. There are even Jaffa Cakes in the machine. I'll have to be careful not to buy them all."
Another resident, Simon Catley, told the Daily Mail: "Before it was installed you had to get into the car and drive almost two miles to a Sainsbury's... It's nice to be putting money into a local business rather than a superstore. You can basically buy anything to make a full English breakfast."
But some are concerned that the installation of the vending machine is yet another sign that the traditional English village is dying out. The loss of post offices and pubs in recent years means that many communities have lost vital facilities and places to socialise, and the fact that many village residences around England are being bought up as holiday homes has added to the notion that the traditional village is losing its quintessential vitality.
The villagers of Clifton are only positive, however. Their new mechanical shop has got people out of their homes and cars, and there's plenty of opportunity for a quick gossip around the vending machine. And it's already becoming a tourist attraction: curious visitors are coming from miles around to take a peek.
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