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Patrick Roberts

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Working Felines: Shop & Store Cats 4

Socks the store cat, Bournville Garden Centre, near Birmingham, West Midlands


Bournville Garden Centre
West Midlands

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South of Birmingham, the UK's second city, lies the Bournville estate, set up originally in the early 1900s by the Cadbury family, of chocolate fame, for their workforce. Part of the estate was devoted to growing plants for the workers, and in more recent years that evolved into the Bournville Garden Centre.

Shop cat Socks of the Bournville Garden Centre near Birmingham, UK Socks the store cat, Bournville Garden Centre, near Birmingham, 2013 A 'regular' at the centre from about 2005-06 had been Socks, a black-and-white female 'tuxedo' cat, who arrived as a stray and decided to stay. She became a favourite with staff and many of the customers, with her favoured spot when she was on duty being at the till, keeping an eye on things. 'We have to work around her,' said manager Steve Palmer in 2013, when she was featured in the Birmingham Mail. 'She lies across the counter and you have to stack stuff around her, but she sits there nonchalantly. She absolutely thinks she's the boss!' She also enjoyed wandering around among the plants — although staff tried to keep her away from the catnip! — and she occasionally liked to walk across keyboards, which could cause chaos. Off-duty and sleeping time was spent in a cat bed in the back store-room.

Update 2022

Memorial to shop cat Socks, late of the Bournville Garden Centre near Birmingham, UK An enquiry in May 2022 revealed that sadly Socks had died a couple of years earlier, aged about 20. There's a small memorial to her outside the centre that's kept 'looking pretty'. The inscription reads: 'In loving memory of Socks — a very special girl. Loved by all that had the pleasure of meeting her. Rest in peace, beautiful girl.'


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Our featured feline at the head of the page is Socks, pictured in 2003 surveying his 'estate' in the early morning sunshine. Affectionately known as Soxy, he blossomed from a thin and hungry stray into a substantial and handsome cat who loved life and company, and his gentle ways endeared him to many friends. He is no longer with us, but you can read more from his human companion here.

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