Family firm closes after more than 70 years

Morris of Matlock, Richard and Jacqueline Crossland
Morris of Matlock, Richard and Jacqueline Crossland

When Michael Morris started trading in 1936, little did he know he was starting a family legacy that would last more than 70 years.

The young entrepreneur founded Morris of Matlock, a name which would become synonymous with quality for generations in the Dales, however when he first started he didn’t have a shop, but instead used to sell clothes door to door.

“Dales people were known for wanting a bargain,” his daughter, Jackie Crossland, said.

“They trusted my dad and that’s how he started his business.”

Michael had been dealing with people directly in their homes for so long that even when he changed what he was selling from clothes to furniture they continued to buy from him.

“He started selling furniture from home, then he had a warehouse in Two Dales and used that as his storeroom,” Jackie explained.

Proving he could turn his selling abilities to anything, Michael sold baby items from a shop in Smedley Street and later he sold electronic products.

“I remember the first dryer coming in,” Jackie said. “It was a big deal at the time.”

Michael sold carpets from his first premises in Dale Road.

He moved into the most recent Dale Road premises in 1959 and as the business continued to grow, opened a warehouse in Matlock Bath in 1969.

Jackie said the warehouse premises closed only six years ago.

“Matlock Bath is more for entertainment now rather than shops,” she explained.

“When he went down there it was still a thriving shopping street.”

Jackie worked for the family business when she left school.

After her father passed away in 1996 she took it over, running it with her husband Richard.

Jackie said: “My dad died when he was 90. Even when he was in a care home he still came into work every day.”

The couple has seen the grandchildren of Michael’s original customers returning to them for furniture.

Jackie said: “We have always sold top quality stuff for the lowest price and our customers know that, that’s why they come back.”

After running the business for 17 years, the couple has now decided to take retirement.

Jackie said that her business, as well as many other businesses, has been struggling in recent years due to growing economic pressures.

“With what has happened to the money in the country people are having to concentrate on buying food rather than furniture,” she said.

“I don’t think we are any different to anyone else in this industry.”

The pair, who live in Chesterfield, now plan to enjoy gardening more, as well as cooking, baking and spending more time with family – their four children and five grandchildren.

They say they will continue to come back to Matlock to do their shopping.

“We prefer shopping in Matlock,” Jackie said.

“You get a better service than the towns and the cities.”

The pair gave their thanks to the loyal customers who have supported the firm over the last 70 years.

“They kept the business going,” Jackie said.