HE’S probably the oldest shopkeeper in Portsmouth – but furniture store boss Patrick Marriott is not ready for his rocking chair yet.
At the age of 87, he’s enjoying a new lease of life at the family business in New Road.
And as far as he’s concerned, there is only one way he’s leaving.
‘When I finally go from here, it’ll be in a box,’ he joked.
Patrick, who is managing director of the Marriotts store, resumed full-time work last year following the death of his wife Rhoda, for whom he had cared for many years.
It was a return to familiar territory for the veteran trader, who first began work at the family firm in 1948 after being demobbed from National Service with the RAF.
I’m thrilled that, since my return to the business, so many people who knew me as long as 50 years ago have come in to say hello and to talk about the old timesPatrick Marriott
He joined a thriving family concern, his mother and father Ted and Margaret having started the business in 1926.
‘New Road then was so very different to what it is today,’ said Patrick. ‘There were 90 shops here of all descriptions as well as three schools and five pubs.
‘It was a wonderful community and I’m thrilled that, since my return to the business, so many people who knew me as long as 50 years ago have come in to say hello and to talk about the old times.’
Patrick clearly remembers the days when the store’s goods included such items as mangles and kitchen cabinets, long since discontinued.
But he prefers to concentrate on the future rather than dwell on the past.
Since his return he has masterminded a redesign of the shop entrance, complete with ramps there and around the store to aid customers with restricted movement.
‘I have a disability myself so I know how important it is to help people who want to view items such as our recliner chairs,’ said Patrick.
Whoever comes through the entrance of the shop is likely to get a personal greeting from Patrick, who spends time sitting just inside the entrance ready to extend the hand of friendship that he says was a trademark of traditional self-made shopkeepers in the past.
Patrick, whose daughter Liz also works at the store, says that Marriotts is the last independent furniture business in Portsmouth.
‘Coming back here has given me a new life,’ he said. ‘I genuinely believe they will have to carry me out!’