The site that once hosted this letter has become difficult to access. Here is the address, on their site, and below is the text of the letter.

Letters: Farewell Zebrite

21st March 2003

Sir, - I work in the hardware industry, that is the household type and not as in computers.

These independent shops used also to be known as ironmongers when I was a lad and here in Richmond our favourite one has now disappeared, alas another story.

Talking to one of my customers recently he tells me that Zebrite Lead Polish is soon to be withdrawn. A very useful item for anyone with an old range or side oven boiler, some still in use others as just an attractive reminder of the past when every home had one. The onerous task of black leading them was perhaps one of the reasons why many people removed them.

Nonetheless there is still quite a healthy demand for Zebrite in its familiar black and yellow striped boxes.

My friend tells me that manufacturers Reckitt and Coleman have decided not to produce it because the big supermarkets are de-listing it. There isn't enough demand in the urban areas we are told.

Well there is a demand, I see anxious users who still have old-fashioned stoves and grates buying up two and three cartons at a time.

Zebrite has been sold in my trade for donkeys' years and now at a stroke a decision made by some pimply-faced Oxbridge accountant deprives users of an excellent product and puts yet another nail in the coffin of the independent retailer.

I also hear that thanks to our meddling friends in Brussels, Jeyes Fluid is no longer to be produced. Another old favourite, washing soda will also cease to be available. For what reason I ask?

These are products people expect to find in their local hardware shops, the unavailability of which simply serves to drive people in ever increasing numbers to the big supermarkets, if you are unlucky enough to live near one that is.

I fear that the demise of independent shops grows ever nearer and this country will be the poorer without them.

Before long we will all be shopping in one huge emporium where there is no choice, no atmosphere and no friendly banter.

Newbiggin, Richmond.

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