Retirement sees end of Earby shop after 125 years

Donald and Ann Speak, third generation proprietors of Henry Speak and Sons in Victoria Road, Earby, are retiring after 50 years in charge. The business will close too and has been in existence for 125 years since 1889.
Donald and Ann Speak, third generation proprietors of Henry Speak and Sons in Victoria Road, Earby, are retiring after 50 years in charge. The business will close too and has been in existence for 125 years since 1889.

New Year’s Eve will be the final day of trading for an Earby firm after 125 years in the town.

Henry Speak and Sons in Victoria Road has been in business since 1889 and for the last 50 years the operation has been run by grandson Donald (80) and his wife Ann (76).

Originally a painter and decorator, founder Henry ran the business with his two sons Rennie and Eddie and his daughter Jennie.

When the second generation took over, business was booming and in 1950 the company had 10 men working all over West Craven as well as selling paint and wallpaper.

By the late 1960s, trends had changed and although demand for a decorator was still there, more people were into do-it-yourself. The shop changed its product line to reflect this, selling more branded wallpaper as well as wickerware and fancy goods.

Donald, himself was a decorator, is the third generation and continued in his trade until the age of 70 when he began helping Ann in the Victoria Road shop.

Ann will also be remembered in Barnoldswick where she previously had the Hobnobs shop in Church Street.

The couple have decided to retire and enjoy a bit more time to themselves, and admit they have been running the business as a hobby for a few years.

Ann said: “We will miss the people but we are still here in Earby. Trade isn’t like it used to be but it has been manic since last Saturday with everything at half price.

“It has been like the old days since the posters went up saying we were closing. We would like to thank all our customers for their trade over the last 50 years.”

Donald, who was president of Earby Cricket Club for many years and a keen Claret, plans to watch more cricket while continuing to support his beloved Burnley, 71 years after seeing his first game at Turf Moor, a 1-0 win over Oldham Athletic.

Donald said: “I think they will stay up. I have every confidence in the manager. I think he is one of the best managers we have ever had but ironically we are bottom of the league.”