Real-life Arkwright’s in danger of ‘calling it a day’ after 90 years
After 90 years of serving the community of Thornbury in Gloucestershire, the shop that is credited as being the inspiration for the classic British comedy series, Open All Hours, could be forced to shut after complaints that their outdoor display is a health and safety risk for mobility scooters (i.e. goods stacked outside to entice passerby’s to come inside to spend a few pounds).
As the story goes, LE Riddiford has been trading since 1928 but it was a seemingly innocent visit by Open All Hours writer/creator, Roy Clarke, that turned the local shop into what became the inspiration for Ronnie Barker’s Arkwright’s. Current owner and greengrocer John Riddiford said it might be time ‘to call it a day’ after he had a recent visit by council officials.
Four generations of the Riddiford family have served the residents of Thornbury at its current High Street location since 1928. While Riddiford warned that his family business would not take in enough money to be sustainable if he could not place goods outside, more than 2,400 people have signed a petition calling on South Gloucestershire Council to let him continue using the pavement due to the limited space inside. It was previous owner, Len Riddiford, who met the creator/writer of the British sitcom starring Ronnie Barker and David Jason and the idea for Open All Hours was formed. The sitcom, which ran for four series from 1973-1985, also spawned the 2013 sequel, Still Open All Hours.
Let’s hope things get worked out so that John Riddiford’s son, Oliver (pictured at top), will have the opportunity to be the fifth generation to keep the shop ‘open all hours’.