End of an era for Marsdens

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One of Chorley’s longest established traders has closed suddenly.

Shocked customers were bewildered to find the doors firmly closed at the Marsdens of Chorley shop, in Chapel Street, after the Bank Holiday.

There was no sign in the window to suggest that the butchers and bakery had closed, but the menus had all been taken down, the shelves were empty and displays had been removed.

A stack of letters was also left behind the glass door and the shop number was ringing out when the Guardian tried to contact the owners.

The shock closure marks the end of an 100 year association with the town after manager Chris Marsden’s grandfather founded Reuben Marsden’s in 1896.

The company, which owned shops in Pall Mall, Bolton Street, Chapel Street and Spendmore Lane at its height, ran in to financial difficulty in 2008 and the iconic name was lost forever.

However, Chis and his partner Nicola Whittaker had bought the busy Chapel Street base in a bid to continue the Marsden dynasty.

Staff who had worked for the pair said they had been aware that the shop could close, but were officially informed by text that it wouldn’t re-open on Tuesday (May 31).

One worker, who asked not to be named, said: “We were all made aware about a month ago that the shop was up for refinance and I was told that if it couldn’t be done, the only option would be to relocate or close.

“On Saturday most of the staff were paid, but I was told that the shop would re-open on Tuesday and I would get paid then.

“I then got a text on Monday to say that everything had been sorted and that it wouldn’t re-open, but I would get paid.

“I hadn’t even had a formal letter to say it would officially be closing, but I know that some members of staff have.

“They were told that they would have to apply to the Government for their redundancy.

“It’s sad as there isn’t even a note in the window to thank all of the loyal customers who have shopped with Marsdens for years.”

When Reuben Marsden’s went into administration it was revealed that the company owed more than £646,000.

Chris and Nicola decided to take on the Chapel Street store to try and safeguard jobs and the Pall Mall branch became Handley’s Bakery.

Shopper Brian Haslam was sad the business had closed.

He said: “Reuben Marsden’s was one of the original businesses in Chorley and I can remember them having a shop in Market Street.

“It was close to what is now Argos and I was shocked to realise that the Chapel Street shop had shut. I noticed it was closed on Tuesday and saw people trying to get in, but the door was locked and there were no signs of life.

“It’s frightening to think that a strong name like Marsden’s can’t survive in Chorley.”

When the Guardian spoke to Mr Marsden, he confirmed that the shop had closed, but said he was unable to comment as he wasn’t a director of the business.