Owner of old-fashioned Liversedge general store says business that has been in his family since 1934 has had its 'busiest year ever'

A real-life 'Arkwright; who has owned an Open All Hours-esque general store for nearly 50 years is exhausted after working 15 hours a day seven days a week in 2020 - his busiest year yet.

Saturday, 9th January 2021, 5:00 pm

Paul Broadbent, 65, has worked at FW Lucas in Liversedge since the early 1970s and the shop has been in his family since 1934.

Mr Broadbent has seen it all in his years behind the counter, like Ronnie Barker's character in the much-loved BBC sitcom in which he portrays the proprietor of an old-fashioned corner shop.

But he said even he wasn’t prepared for the massively increased workload that came about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Paul Broadbent, 65, who works at FW Lucas in Liversedge

In order to meet the big surge in demand he worked in his shop up to 15 hours a day throughout 2020 and said the only full day off he took was Christmas Day.

He said: “I have never been so busy in my life than this past year. In April and May all the products just went, the shelves were empty.

“People were buying loads of alcohol as well as stuff like gardening equipment to keep busy while they were stuck at home. I think people came here because they didn’t want to queue up at the supermarket.

“It was good for business and I was very happy to help but it was a lot of work to do.”

Mr Broadbent sells everything from pots and pans to pet food at his old-fashioned general store and said the most surprisingly popular item of the year was an incinerator, of which he sold 100.

He added that despite being grateful for the business the workload has left him feeling worn out.

He said: “The amount I’ve worked has left me feeling really tired out. I’m a one man band. I have no family so pretty much everything is done by me.

“I do have someone helping 18 hours a week but the rest is all me, it has been a lot of work. I’m hoping this year I might be able to move the shop on.

“I’m 65 and there is more to life than just work, it’s nearly time to call it a day. The shop is very important to me though so I would want to pass it on to the right person.”

FW Lucas was opened by Mr Broadbent’s grandparents in 1934 and he started working there as a teenager after 'leaving school Friday teatime and starting work Friday night'.

The devoted retailer ran the shop alongside his father Herbert until his death 30 years later - and together the pair were known as Arkwright and Granville, the character played by David Jason in Open All Hours.

He said the last holiday he had was nearly half a century ago when he went to Silverstone racetrack with a friend.

"People ask me why I do it but that's like asking a priest 'why are you a priest?' It just comes with the job. I've had a good life but it's all been after 9pm and at times it's been lonely with no wife and kids.

"I don't even have a computer or a mobile phone - there's no need because I'm down here in the shop 14 hours a day."

Mr Broadbent's store sells all the items you'd expect to see in an episode of Open All Hours - from freshly-made meat sandwiches to tinned goods and confectionery.

The antiquated shop even has a sweet counter where you can get a half-pound mix.

However, the advent of the supermarket local has forced Mr Broadbent to branch out and - like his TV hero Arkwright - have a go at selling anything and everything.

He said: “I don’t mind the comparisons to Arkwright, it makes sense I suppose.”