Barton Grange Hotel book launch

Alfie, Jonathan, Katie, Libby, Emily, Joe and Oliver Topping

Alfie, Jonathan, Katie, Libby, Emily, Joe and Oliver Topping - Credit: Archant

When Ada Theobald left school in 1918 aged 13, she might have expected to marry, have a family and run a household - and she did. But the formidable Ada was also blessed with an entrepreneurial streak that laid the foundations for a business that is still thriving today. Already the owner of a greengrocer’s in Preston, she married Edward Topping, who ran a small market garden in New Longton, in 1929 and, after producing a son, Eddie, soon turned her attentions to supplementing the family income.

She initially produced potato cakes to sell on Rochdale market. Jams and marmalades were her next success and later she took in paying bed and breakfast guests.

With Eddie almost 20, Ada was ready for the next step by taking over a dilapidated manor house on the A6 between Preston and Garstang, transforming it into small hotel.

More than 60 years on Barton Grange Hotel is still thriving – albeit with many more bedrooms – and two other businesses, the garden centre and Barton Grange Landscapes have been developed from Edward’s market garden enterprise. Two of them are still run by Eddie’s children.

Now, Eddie’s other son, Ian, has completed a book with author Carole Knight recording how Ada, and then Eddie, grew the businesses to its current level with more than 400 employees. It was launched at a special event at the Barton Grange Hotel attended by family and friends. w

‘Barton Grange: A Topping Tale’ is available from the garden centre priced £9.95 with £2 from every sale going to Vine House, CancerHelp’s day care centre in Preston.