IN­STI­TU­TION OF THE TOWN

PIKE’S IS AN IN­STI­TU­TION IN PORTH­MADOG

Caernarfon Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Owen Hughes

A NEWSAGENT whose for­mer cus­tomers in­clude i David Lloyd Ge­orge and the King of Al­ba­nia has marked an in­cred­i­ble 115 years in busi­ness.

Started up by pro­fes­sional crick­eter Wil­liam l Pike in 1902, Pike’s in Porth­madog has been go­ing strong ever since and is now run by his great grand­daugh­ter Meryl Pike.

Meryl Pike, 58, said the se­cret to their on­go­ing o suc­cess has been the way they have h treated their cus­tomers. She said: “It is the per­sonal things, we take an in­ter­est in the lives of our cus­tomers, we know when peo­ple have not been well or have had a baby. Peo­ple also come here for the so­cial side, the ban­ter.

“We have also al­ways looked at what is miss­ing from other shops in town and adapted, sell­ing things like fish­ing equip­ment, jig­saws, cards and smok­ing pipes. This has served us well for 115 years and I have no plans for re­tire­ment.”

Wil­liam Pike, orig­i­nally from Not­ting­hamshire, ar­rived in the Gwynedd town as a pro­fes­sional crick- eter, play­ing for Porth­madog Cricket Club – and it was the club mem­bers who en­cour­aged Wil­liam to open his own shop, which he de­vel­oped as a tobac­conist and newsagents.

Wil­liam was a well-known char­ac­ter in the town and con­tin­ued play­ing cricket un­til the age of 65. He worked in the shop un­til May 1951 when he passed away at the age of 80.

Wil­liam’s son Noel started help­ing in the shop in 1911 at the age of 10, get­ting up in time to de­liver the news­pa­pers at 6am.

He joined the busi­ness full time at 14 and he also de­vel­oped his own hair­dress­ing busi­ness at the rear of the shop.

This was the pe­riod when the shop and hair sa­lon was vis­ited by a num­ber of well known pa­trons.

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Lloyd Ge­orge came down from his nearby home vil­lage of Llanys­tumdwy, while the Duke of Ed­in­burgh vis­ited over his time served dur­ing the Sec­ond World War with HMS Glen­dower at Pwll­heli.

Noel was also asked to cut the hair of the King of Al­ba­nia who was stay­ing at the Port­meirion Ho­tel.

He served the pub­lic for over 75 years as a hair­dresser and a newsagent and, even when he was in his nineties, used to spend three hours a day in the shop help­ing his son Bill and grand­daugh­ter Meryl.

Noel reck­oned to have sold mil­lions of copies of our sis­ter paper the Daily Post from the days when it was sell­ing for a penny, and the Liver­pool Echo for a half­penny.

Bill Pike, Noel’s son, joined the busi­ness in 1949, work­ing full-time from 1952, fol­low­ing two years Na­tional Ser­vice in the Royal Air Force.

He also de­vel­oped a suc­cess­ful whole­sal­ing busi­ness, sell­ing tobacco and cig­a­rettes to small shops and pub­lic houses in the area.

Bill was in­volved with the lo­cal com­mu­nity, a pres­i­dent and trustee of Porth­madog Foot­ball Club and as­so­ci­ated with the town’s Cricket Club, Golf Club and Bowl­ing Club.

Meryl added: “Pike’s be­came a pop­u­lar gather­ing place for many lo­cal cus­tomers who en­joyed the early morn­ing de­bates in­sti­gated by my dad, who held firm opin­ions on both lo­cal and na­tional is­sues.”

He worked in the busi­ness un­til May 2007, when he passed away sud­denly at the age of 74 af­ter serv­ing the pub­lic for more than half a cen­tury. Bill’s daugh­ter Meryl first started work­ing in the shop at the age of 12 dur­ing school hol­i­days.

She joined full-time in 1990 af­ter leav­ing a bank­ing ca­reer to be­come a part­ner with her fa­ther in the busi­ness.

Fol­low­ing Bill’s death, Meryl’s hus­band, David Wil­liams, be­came her part­ner in the busi­ness and now David’s daugh­ters, Saran and Cain, also work part-time in the shop, along with five other mem­bers of staff – Nerys, Angie, He­len, John and Manon.

Pike’s con­tin­ues to be a tra­di­tional tobac­conist and newsagents and a re­cent sur­vey showed that a large per­cent­age of its reg­u­lar cus­tomers have been sup­port­ing the busi­ness for more than 30 years – some for 75 years. Since 2015 Pike’s have been in­volved with the In­de­pen­dent Achiev­ers Academy awards for in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers.

In 2015 the shop was named as one of the Top 100 in­de­pen­dent re­tail­ers in the UK and Ire­land. This year Pike’s is a fi­nal­ist in two cat­e­gories – Ef­fec­tive Rang­ing and Ser­vice to the Com­mu­nity.

In or­der to cel­e­brate Pike’s 115th birth­day Meryl and David de­cided to do­nate £115 to a dif­fer­ent char­ity each month through­out 2017.

● David and Meryl Pike Wil­liams at Pike’s. Inset right: Meryl with her fa­ther Bill and, top, Meryl’s grand­fa­ther Noel out­side the shop

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