The founder of eponymous Whalley-based independent Maureen Cookson has died, aged 89.
Born in 1930 in Accrington, Cookson decided she wanted to open a shop in Whalley in 1956, and 47 King Street was purchased. Two rooms were devoted to retail, and the family lived in the rest of the building. The shop was a drapers and haberdashers – and quickly grew. The family moved out into a house in Whalley and the whole building was turned over to retail.
In 1960 Cookson’s husband Alan was diagnosed with bowel cancer while she was pregnant with her third child, Hilary. The decision was made that the store had to become a career as she was likely to be a widow aged 30 with three young children. Alan recovered well from surgery, but then the seed was sown, and Cookson had a taste for Whalley and fashion.
In 1974 they moved to the central unit of the then derelict Co-Op shop on George Street – a nightclub called Ace of Spades was on the first floor. Over the years all parts of the building were acquired from landlord Fred Haydock and developed. Cookson’s children Alan and Hilary then joined the business, which grew into one of the country’s largest fashion independent stores and won many accolades in the industry.
Cookson retired in 1995, and Hilary and her husband, Henry, took over the business.
Cookson led a very full retirement and dearly loved Whalley, the Methodist church, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her final three years were in the care of Manor House Chatburn. Cookson’s funeral service will take place at 12:15pm on 30 May at Whalley Methodist Church, 80 King St, Whalley BB7 9SN.