in the 1950s and 1960s

by Simon Green

Anyone in Ashton who has driven through Lane Ends – which is probably everyone – will have passed the shop that once had the grand name of Ashtonia. The photos below show the shop in 1962.

Ashtonia was a sweet shop and confectioner on the corner of Blackpool Road and Tulketh Brow. The shop also had an American-style milk bar, including a number of tables for serving hot and cold drinks. The owner of the shop, Mrs E Kirkham, is shown in Ashtonia in the photo to the right, taken in 1958.

Deryck Kirkham, whose family ran Ashtonia between 1952 and 1966,shared his recollections of the shop with us:

‘The shop comprised numbers 441 and 443 Blackpool Road from its corner with Tulketh Brow. Living accommodation was next door at No 445 and of course above all three properties. A big place for us kids at the time.’

Wakes Weeks

Before the M55 was built, Blackpool Road was the main route for anyone travelling from the east and south to Blackpool. This meant that Lane Ends, a bottle-neck even today, heaved with traffic during the summer holidays. But, what was a problem for drivers was a business opportunity for Ashtonia:

‘The shop itself did excellent trade at the time and when wakes weeks and Blackpool illuminations traffic passed by - when it was a single carriageway road - even better. People would leap out of their vehicles, whilst stuck in traffic, to buy ice cream, sweets and cigarettes.’

Other shops

The Lane Ends Hotel (opposite to Ashtonia ) was a mecca for me as a child. I was friendly with the then landlord’s children and we used to play in the old stable block and function rooms.’

Other memorable shops were Morely’s Café – which we think is today’s Spar – and Seeds little shop, where Deryck would buy a ‘penny’s worth’ of broken biscuits on his way to St Andrew’s Primary School.