End of era as bakery closes

NEW DIRECTION: Lee Grimshaw and Sally Wright when they set up the online business
NEW DIRECTION: Lee Grimshaw and Sally Wright when they set up the online business

A popular family business which had been in Leyland for more than seven decades has closed.

Parkinsons of Leyland bakery had been ever-present in the town since 1936, and the company once had four thriving shops throughout South Ribble.

But the last remaining bakery on Golden Hill Lane closed for the final time on Saturday, marking the end of an era for Leyland.

Derek Grimshaw, who ran the shop with wife Kath for 50 of the company’s 76 years, said: “The last 12 months have become increasingly difficult for the business.

“Times are hard because of competition from supermarkets, and people’s shopping habits have changed.

“My grandma opened the first shop on Hough Lane, opposite Leyland Motors, and the business did very well off the back of the North Works factory.

“We used to supply canteens at Volvo, Whitbread brewery, the Test Track and hotels in the area too.

“The amount of people coming into Leyland for work has dropped massively.”

The firm started in Susanna Parkinson’s front room after she was widowed in the 1930s, as she decided to support her family by selling pies and cakes from her home in Great Harwood.

She bought a house in Hough Lane in 1936, and turned it into the first Parkinsons shop.

The Golden Hill premises were originally acquired as a cafe in 1956, but the family then transferred the bakery there and extended the Parkinsons brand.

Derek and Kath were the well-known faces of the Golden Hill base for many years, while other members of the family, including Derek’s brother Brian, looked after the other establishments, including shops in Lostock Hall and Bamber Bridge.

“We started to condense the business over the last few years,” Derek said.

“The last one was Golden Hill, which is where the bakery is.

“We also started to sell our products online as a way of keeping up with the market, as times were changing.

“A lot of bakeries have closed in the area, and we started to see a decline of the high street.

“We held on for as long as we could.”

Derek and Kath retired in 2009, the same year that the Hough Lane premise closed down, and the reins were handed over to their son Lee Grimshaw, and daughter Sally Wright.

Derek, who continued to be on hand in a consultancy role, said: “Unfortunately things haven’t been as successful as we hoped.

“I feel emotionally drained, and the family is very sad that it’s come to this.

“I really would like to thank all of our loyal customers and staff for their support over the years.”

The shop employed three full-time members of staff and two part-time workers, who have now been made redundant.

The online branch of the business, cakebases.co.uk, is in the process of being sold, and will no longer be associated with the Parkinsons name.

Sally left the firm about five months ago, and Lee says he now wants to assess his options before deciding what to do next.

“It is a shame,” he added. “We’ve seen a lot of people come and go over the years.

“I think most people in Leyland over the age of 50 have probably worked for the company at one point.

“Everyone has always known Parkinsons to be in Leyland.”