End of the roll for Blackpool’s phoenix carpets firm

A photograph taken during the tragic fire in 1990 at Talbot Road.
A photograph taken during the tragic fire in 1990 at Talbot Road.

A Blackpool business which survived a tragic fire in 1990 has closed its doors for the last time.

Carpets and furniture specialist Talbot Showrooms has shut up shop after 46 years due to retirement.

Ken Aiken in 1992 after the business reopened

Ken Aiken in 1992 after the business reopened

Managing Director Ken Aiken said they had sold everything that had been in the store apart from one headboard and a bedside cabinet.

The firm was founded in 1969 in the building which used to be the Princess Laundry in Talbot Road.

It was a two storey building with 18,500 sq ft of warehouse space.

But in May 1990 the building, then known as Talbot Salesrooms, caught fire and was destroyed.

We have been on the site ever since and have been lucky enough to have wonderful staff and wonderful customers

John Singleton, one of the hundred firemen called to tackle the enormous blaze was killed, as gases from the inferno suddenly erupted while around 15 men were inside trying to control the fire.

Another Glenn Wilson, suffered severe burns and had to leave the fire brigade. Mr Aiken said it was a terrible time for everyone linked to the incident.

Two years later the ruins were cleared and the purpose built 5,800 sq ft Talbot Showrooms building was built.

Mr Aiken said: “We have been on the site ever since and have been lucky enough to have wonderful staff and wonderful customers.”

He said he started in sales when he left school at the age of 15 and ended up working with Leslie Whiston in Birley Street. He later had his own carpet fitting business before returning to join Mr Whiston who started the Talbot Road business. They built up the business selling carpets, bedroom furniture, beds and rugs, and he took over around 30 years ago.

“We have had carpets go all over the place. We had quite a few go to Reykjavik in Iceland.

“The trawlermen used to come to Fleetwood and because the cost of carpets was so high in Iceland they bought ours and took them back on the trawlers.

“I have a few regrets at retiring and no firm plans but it was the right time. It is the end of an era. I would like to thank the staff, Tony, Gay, Lee and Shane and our fitters plus our customers and friends.”