During the late 1800s and the first half of the 1900s, George Beastall played a prominent role in the life of Somercotes. Even fifty years or more after his death, the older population of the village would remember his name by reference to “Beastall’s Corner” (the junction of High Street with Nottingham Road, where “Oporto House” is situated).
George Beastall was born on 23 April 1859 at South Wingfield. He moved to Somercotes around 1886, and in the census of 1891 can be found living on Nottingham Road with his wife, four children, an assistant and a domestic servant. His occupation is recorded as a grocer.
In 1901 George had already changed his business to a wine and spirit merchants, as confirmed in the census of that year. Business must have been very good as “Oporto House” was also built the same year on Nottingham Road (which is now Archway Interiors). This was also an off-licence as well as a residential building.
Around this time he was also politically active. He became an Alfreton Urban District Councillor in 1899 and a Derbyshire County Councillor for Alfreton No. 2 division in February 1902. George also qualified as a magistrate in 1912, and took up office on the Alfreton Bench. As a magistrate, during the First World War, he would sign the Attestation Papers of all soldiers who enlisted in the armed services at Alfreton.
Also in 1912, he opened the Premier Electric Theatre on Nottingham Road, a business that would remain in his family until after his death.
George continued to serve as a magistrate all his life, and still attended Alfreton Petty sessions when he was 80 years old. His death, at the age of 81, was reported in the Nottingham Evening Post on Monday 18 November 1940:
SOMERCOTES TRADESMAN DEAD
The death took place on Saturday of Mr. George Beastall JP aged 81 of Oporto House, Somercotes after a brief illness. A native of South Wingfield, he went to Somercotes 55 years ago and had been in business as a wine and spirit merchant for 50 years. He was a magistrate at Alfreton for 28 years, a member of Derbyshire County Council for 15 years and a member of Alfreton District Urban Council. He was also a member of the Belper Board of Guardians and a director of the Somercotes & District Land Society.
After George’s death the business continued and the off-licence flourished for many years. Due to its prominent position at the junction of Nottingham Road with the High Street the business was very well known throughout the area. It finally closed around 1980 and the building was taken over by Archway Interiors.