Over the years, Beeston has had - and still has - more than its share of long-established family businesses that have served the local community well over the years. But, the estate agency, C P Walker & Sons, which is still going strong after over 120 years is surely a remarkably example.
The business started in 1896, the year after 23-year-old Charles Potter Walker had married Edna Wilkinson, the daughter of George, the brother of Frank Wilkinson, the owner of Anglo-Scotian Mills on Wollaton Road. George was then building housing for Frank's workforce, in the streets around the centre of Beeston and needed someone to manage them. Charles grasped the opportunity and soon gave up the greengrocery he had previously operated on the High Road to concentrate full-time on developing the property business - which soon included insurance, with Charles collecting premiums from shopkeepers up and down the High Road.
To this day, it has remained a family business and has grown steadily at its location at 107 High Road (shown above). Today, the business includes fourth generation family members in its management team.
To celebrate this remarkable milestone of 120 years in business in Beeston, the company decided to commission a history of Beeston during those years, exploring and celebrating its rich history. I was pleased and honoured to be asked to write the. "The Story of Beeston" It's 73 pages are richly illustrated - including the image above right - and chart the history of the town, decade by decade, from 1896 up to the present day - during which the once dominant lace trade vanished completely, large employers - such as Humbers, Beeston Boiler and Ericssons - came, succeeded but eventually closed, new housing filled the open fields that surrounded the old village centre, two world wars brought tragedy and austerity and supermarkets and national names replaced smaller local shopkeepers. But it also is a story of Beeston's resilience and positive response to inevitable change which continues today and will always be with us.
The book was published towards the end of 2018 and has been received with acclaim and interest. It is available free to anyone interested - just call at the C P Walker & Son office and ask for a copy.
Now the thought is "How will the town develop in the 2020s?" - and, who better to write the next chapter than local people like us who love their town? And. to try to answer that question, C P Walker & Son has launched a competition to write that next chapter.
The closing date for entries is April 23rd 2019. If you are interested, there are more details on the company's website, to be found here .