Timber firm chopped after 144 years service

Page and Taylor in Watery Lane
Page and Taylor in Watery Lane
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Timber merchants Page and Taylor survived two world wars and the Depression in between.

But one of Preston’s 10 oldest firms, which was established back in 1872 and spanned three centuries, could not weather the tough trading climate of 2015/16.

The company’s Blackpool-based owners have announced they have sold up in Watery Lane - home to Page and Taylor since 1903 - with neighbouring Bowker BMW acquiring the 6.5 acre site.

“We’ve been expecting it for the last couple of years,” said Malcolm Milton who is one of 14 staff made redundant.

“We always knew this day would come because we are sandwiched in between Bowker, who are expanding, and Oyston Mill, which is being converted into apartments. So this chunk of land was always likely to be attractive.”

The company shuts its doors for the last time on February 27 and, so far, only four of the 14 staff have found alternative employment.

“We found out last week, giving us just sevenweeks to find something else before it closes,” said Malcolm.

“All our regular customers have been told and the general reaction seems to be: ‘Where are we going to get our wood from now?’

“People don’t realise just what they’ve got until they lose it. And this will be a big loss for the Preston area.

“The staff are all gutted and so too are many of our customers.

“This firm has been in Preston since 1872. There aren’t many older companies still in business. It’s so sad to see it go.”

Page and Taylor was founded in 1872 when Queen Victoria was on the throne, Gladstone was Prime Minister and outlaw Jesse James was robbing banks in the Wild West.

The first premises were in Deepdale Mill Street, but the company moved to Watery Lane in Ashton just after the turn of the century to be closer to the thriving Port of Preston.

Page and Taylor imported timber from Russia, Canada and Scandinavia, using the company’s own railway to carry it from the quayside to its sawmill across the road.

During World War Two the firm took on 50 women to replace men who had been called up for military service. They helped the war effort by producing wooden ammunition and first aid boxes.

In 1985, in its 112th year, the company was taken over by the current owners Graham and Kevan Smart from S & S Timber in Blackpool who were unavailable for comment.