Shopkeeper clocks up 50 years in the heart of the city

Matin Ashby - owner of Martin's House of Linen, is celebrating 50 years in business.' Picture ref: AB064b0317
Matin Ashby - owner of Martin's House of Linen, is celebrating 50 years in business.' Picture ref: AB064b0317

A shopkeeper has reached a major milestone this week - clocking up 50 years as a trader in the heart of the city centre.

Martin Ashby, who runs Martin’s House of Linen, tried his hand at motor mechanics, and as a butcher after leaving school, before being bitten by the market bug - on March 9, 1965.

He was asked by his wife’s brother to help out on a stall, and the rest is history.

The 70-year-old said: “I thoroughly enjoyed it, and somehow it suited me.

“I’ve been round the block, I have seen C&A come and go, House of Holland, BHS and Woolworths, I’ve survived all of them.”

With help from both Wakefield Council and Trinity Walk, he moved into the Westmorland House premises on the corner of Brook Street only a month ago from the market hall, but he is no stranger to shopping around.

Martin has had a variety of pitches and shops in his five-decade stint.

This includes Super Toys in The Ridings, Poundsavers on Teal Street and Townsley Seafood on Teal Street, and still has a Saturday pitch on Teal Street for his linen company.

He has also had shops and pitches in Scarborough, Barnsley, Skegness and Scunthorpe.

But living in Sandal, Wakefield has always been his number one choice.

He said: “It’s changed tremendously over the years, some say for the good, some not for the good.

“I don’t mind change if it’s for the good.

“Retail has evolved and markets are no longer king. Older generations like going to the market but the younger one don’t want them.

“The internet has certainly affected things, but that has it’s own problems.

“I think eventually people will slide back towards us because the online and the big chains can’t replace a one-to-one personal service that people like us can provide.”

Having undergone a heart bypass operation 10 years ago, and having beaten throat and neck cancer four years ago, has he considered stepping down and retiring?

He said: “I enjoy it too much to retire, the thought of it makes me shudder so I have no plans whatsoever.

“The day I stop enjoying it is the day I realise its time to go.”