Couple draw the curtain on market stall

NEW CHAPTER Christopher and Janet Wilby. (jc_150415_wilby _02)
NEW CHAPTER Christopher and Janet Wilby. (jc_150415_wilby _02)

After four generations trading on Dewsbury Market, a family business is packing up for a new challenge.

F Wilby Limited has been in operation since 1884 but owners Christopher and Janet Wilby are now opening up a new store in Horbury’s High Street.

The curtain and materials shop was started by Chris’s great-grandfather Fred, passed on to his son George and later William Wilby. Chris, 57, started working for the company in 1974.

“We were really buoyant then. It’s been a gradual decline over the years,” he said.

“I’m taking it with a pinch of salt,” Chris said. “I’m quite looking forward to moving.

“I’m quite positive, because we can trade five to six days a week. We’re hoping customers will follow us to Horbury.”

Whereas now Chris and Janet pay £645 a month for their plot but usually trade on Monday and Wednesday, they will only have to fork out around £400 for the new shop which will be open all week.

Janet, 57, said: “Trade’s gone down such a lot in Dewsbury. People just don’t come into the town. They used to throng down on market days.

“The rents have gone up tremendously over the last few years.”

Without income from an extra measuring service the couple provide, Chris added, they would have left the market a long time ago.

A council spokeswoman said: “The rents at Dewsbury Market have not increased since 2011. The market continues to experience a reasonable level of trade despite a changing retail landscape and a national reduction in town centre footfall.

“Market stall holders like all retailers have to make decisions based on the customers and the community that they service.

“Whilst we are sorry to see them leave the market, we wish the owners well with their new premises.”