Family firm calls it a day after 180 years
AFAMILY-RUN business has closed its doors after 180 years of trading.
T. Ascroft & Sons Grocers and Corn Merchants in Marshes Lane, Mere Brow. was run by brothers Thomas (known as Tommy) 74, Derek, 73 and Keith, 69, along with Tommy and Derek’s wives, Marion and Evelyn.
The business is a landmark for many who drive to Southport and the brothers are the fourth generation of Ascrofts to run the business.
The brothers all live in and around Mere Brow, and the family is a true pillar of the community.
But after much consideration, they have taken the difficult decision to retire and close the business and shop.
Derek said: “We have been talking about retirement for a few years, but 12 months ago we decided that come 2018 we would retire.
“It’s sad really as we like the job and we like meeting local customers.”
The shop was started by Alice Southworth (later Alice Ascroft) who was born in 1796.
In 1838 she made an agreement with Sir Thomas Hesketh to rent a plot of land in Mere Brow with permission to erect buildings for a shop and corn mill. The rent was two pounds and two shillings, payable once a year.
But a century later, both sides of the business changed.
The corn mill mainly sold pig and poultry food, but gradually moved to horse and pet food. The shop sold groceries and other household items, but more recently became known for its sandwiches, cakes and pies.
Asked what their secret to success was, Derek said: “I don’t know, I suppose we tried to serve customers as best we could, someone above us must be looking after us!”
And while the brothers have no big plans for retirement, Derek added: “I have a lot of gardening to do and I am a Preston North End supporter, so come the winter season I will be watching the matches.”