YOU don’t see the name these days, but time was when Collinson’s Cafes were regarded as “the social rendezvous”, with “refined surroundings” for Blackpool visitors and locals alike.
The story of this proud catering dynasty started on the other side of the Pennines and also spread across The Irish Sea and now Kate Firth, a descendant by marriage, is hoping Memory Lane readers might help her piece together more of the tale.
She says: “Collinsons began in Halifax in 1835 selling porter and stout but Thomas Collinson decided, as a good Quaker, that instead he should specialise in tea and coffee. The business prospered and his two younger sons joined in 1876. Shops and cafes opened in Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Isle of Man.”
Kate says: “From looking in directories it seems Blackpool had cafes and shops at West Street (1902) North Pier (1903) and South Shore (1912). Other addresses were Talbot Road, 82 Bond Street, South Shore and 5-6 Central Beach. After the Second World War it seems to be just 98 Promenade and West Street.
“The cafe at 98 North Promenade, of which I have obtained a photograph from 1925, became The Lancastria Restaurant in the 1950s, managed very successfully by Steve Paxton, and he also developed West Street into a grill and coffee bar.”
Kate says: “Collinsons was sold in 1960 to members of the Whitaker family from Bradford. Branches in Halifax, Leeds and Bradford were sold due to increasing running costs and changing needs, others including Blackpool were modernised. Blackpool eventually closed in 1979.
“Collinsons subsidiary was Beech’s Chocolates, founded in Preston in 1920 by Edward Collinson, grandson of Thomas. It was acquired by Supercook in 1984 and then by RenshawScott in 2000. In 2002 it went back into private hands and is still operating in its original premises in Preston.”
Kate adds: “My father Paul Buckingham worked for the company from 1928 until 1970,was the tea and coffee taster and blender and a director. Edward Collinson was his uncle. I would appreciate any help with information or photographs as I continue to put together a history of Collinsions.”
*Kate Firth can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone on (01704) 535914 or at 18 Coudray Road, Southport, PR9 9NL.