Top Preston boutique owner Billie Richman dies at 107

A much-loved Preston businesswoman has died at the age of 107.

Friday, 9th February 2018, 12:35 pm
Updated Friday, 9th February 2018, 1:40 pm
Billie Richman

Billie Richman owned Boutique Helene on Friargate which opened in 1958 and closed in 1997 when she retired.

Great great-grandmother Mrs Richman, whose maiden name was Stone, was well known as Billie, though her first name was actually Bella. She was born in London and married David Richman in 1935. They had two daughters, Jeannette and Helen.

During the war Mr and Mrs Richman decided to get away from the London bombings and moved to Preston. Mr Richman owned a factory making ladies’ underwear in London that was bombed. He brought what garments he could salvage to sell on Preston Market. When he went into the army, his wife took over the business and also sold clothing, such as dresses bought in Manchester. Mr Richman came out of the army and kept the business going. In 1958 he opened Boutique Helene, named after his daughter Helen.

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“I think it was one of the first boutiques in the North,” said Jeannette, who lives in Fairhaven, Lytham. My mother ran it with my sister. My sister left in the early 60s and I came into the business. I vowed I would only stay a few weeks but stayed nearly 40 years with my mother running the shop.

“We had a tremendous following of people that were interested in fashion. They adored my mother and enjoyed coming in the shop, chatting, and fixing them up with all types of clothes, and they loved it. It was the time of Mary Quant and Biba. Things were just happening in those days in the dress industry. People came from all over Lancashire. My mother was very well known and much-loved. She enjoyed life, enjoyed people and they enjoyed coming into the shop.”

Mrs Richman lived at home in St Annes until the age of 106 before moving into a care home in Fairhaven in 2016.