Proud Blackpool businessman who sold bedding from one of resort's oldest buildings

A 300-year-old former smithy became a popular bedding shop in the 1980’s. Michelle Winter’s father ran the shop. Here she shares her memories...

Sunday, 9th May 2021, 3:45 pm

Originally one of Blackpool’s oldest buildings, this cobbled building (above) was on Church Street.

It started life as a Smithy, around three hundred years ago but reader Michelle Winter remembers it as her dad’s shop, from where he ran the Continental Bedding Shop in the 1980’s. William Kenneth Smith who died seven years ago, was a well respected Blackpool businessman and his shop supplied many hotels and B&Bs during that time. He also ran stalls on Fleetwood, Preston and Chorley markets, as well as in Blackpool on Milbourne and Cookson Street.

But a huge fire started by a teenager on Christmas Day, 1988, reduced the building to ashes and William lost everything.

A proud businessman, William Kenneth Smith

Michelle recalled: “A number of other places were also set on fire that morning too. My father then moved the business to a building on Bloomfield Road, which was originally where Swallow sidecars was in 1922. It later became Jaguar Cars Ltd which were the only cars my dad ever owned including his beloved E Type.”

Originally from St Helen’s William moved to Blackpool in 1939, where he ‘forgot’ to go back to school and began working.

“He never actually stopped until he died,” said Michelle, “one of his jobs was delivering ladies dresses that were wrapped in tissue within large boxes, whilst he was dressed in a little button suit with a pill box hat.”

In his younger days he made Wellington Bombers and was always proud to say he made and fitted the switch for the bomb release.

A proud businessman, William Kenneth Smith

His retail career actually began on Chorley market selling calico and bedding, where he was affectionately known as Calico Bill. His time at Preston market was where he met his wife Adrienne. They went on to have four children. “I used to work on Preston Market with my dad. He was a very proud and genuine true gentleman.

“Always immaculately dressed and a true friend to many.”

The Church Street shop stood opposite the traffic light junction with Park Road and is now the large car park.

The former Raikes Smithy was also a pet shop selling dog, bird and poultry food as well as being a gun shop on Church Street Blackpool in 1932. The building was situated opposite the end of Park Road before it was burned down in 1988
A very early photo of the old Smithy