Lancashire TelegraphEnd of an era as Blackburn business tycoon Fred Walker dies (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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End of an era as Blackburn business tycoon Fred Walker dies

Lancashire Telegraph: Fred Walker, seen with his brother Jack (left) at their massively successful Walkersteel factory in Blackburn in the 1970s, has died at the age of 86. Fred Walker, seen with his brother Jack (left) at their massively successful Walkersteel factory in Blackburn in the 1970s, has died at the age of 86.

JACK Walker’s brother, the Blackburn business tycoon Fred Walker, has died.

Mr Walker, 86, died at his Osbaldeston home with his family by his side.

Fred and his brother, the millionaire benefactor whose money helped Blackburn Rovers become Premier League champions, were the town’s two most famous and wealthy businessmen.

Mr Walker’s death has been described as ‘the end of an era’.

And a memorial service is set to take place tomorrow at Blackburn Cathedral.

The duo turned C Walker & Sons from a back-street scrap metal business into the nationwide steel stockholding giant Walkersteel.

By the time they sold the company to British Steel in the late 1980s it was a market leader with 3,400 employees in 60 locations across the UK and Ireland and sales of £623million.

Jack Straw, Blackburn MP, said: “He was a lovely man and he did a great deal for the area.

“It can be quite hard for a person in the shadow of a more prominent brother but he managed that very well and was a great success in his own right.

“He owned the Feilden Arms at Mellor where I used to drink and the Stanley House Hotel, which has been a great success.

“It’s the passing of an era and it is very sad.”

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Mr Walker, who died on Saturday, was known as a private, family man and rarely spoke publicly.

In recent years he was widely known for his ownership and revival of Stanley House Hotel in Mellor.

He transformed the building from a dilapidated manor house to a grand hotel and in 2010, Stanley House clinched the prestigious Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board’s Business Tourism Award.

Mr Walker leaves his wife of 60 years Nora, children Jacqueline, Carolyn and Charles and grandchildren Jonathan, Claire, Florecita and Rolando.

A remembrance and thanksgiving service will be held at the cathedral at 11am, prior to a private family committal at Pleasington.

Canon Andrew Hindley said: “I think even though Walkersteel has been gone for 20 years there is a lot of affection in the town for Fred and the Walker family.

“We expect a good attendance and it’s only right that it is held at the cathedral where his brother’s memorial service was held.

“The service will feature aspects of his life and his work.”

Margo Grimshaw, Blackburn businesswoman and Lancashire Telegraph columnist, said: “I knew both Fred and Jack.

“Just after their dad died in 1951, when I had my dry cleaning business, they used to bring in their one suit and I had to get it ready quick.

“Fred was a very nice man, and they were just like the boys next door.”

The Walker brothers were brought up in terraced homes in Randal Street and Providence Street in Little Harwood.

Both served apprenticeships; Jack as a sheet-metal worker and Fred as a precision toolmaker.

The Walkersteel story began in 1945 when a teenage Jack began working with his father Charles.

With the princely sum of £80, his father started a tiny sheet metal working and car repair business in a back street workshop.

By 1950 turnover was £6,000 a year.

National Service in the Army took Jack away from the business for a couple of years while Fred returned from his stint with the Merchant Navy to join the firm.

Their father died in 1951 and the brothers began to build the business up.

By 1989 the firm was market-leader with 3,400 employees in 60 locations across the UK and Ireland and sales of £623million.

In October that year – when the brothers were approaching retirement age – they sold up.

The £330million they got from British Steel – Jack was credited with securing a price at the very top of market expectations – was the biggest ever fetched from a private company sale.

Comments (12)

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10:08am Thu 29 Mar 12

Bredrin says...

Walker barmy Army
Walker barmy Army Bredrin
  • Score: 0

10:16am Thu 29 Mar 12

Keep Darwen Green says...

RIP Fred and RIP Jack. Sorely missed by all.
RIP Fred and RIP Jack. Sorely missed by all. Keep Darwen Green
  • Score: 0

11:47am Thu 29 Mar 12

walshy2866 says...

Sad that the last link in the Walker legacy has passed away. Two great ambassadors for the town. Fred was the quieter of the two I believe, fitting tribute that the Rovers youth team, a product of Jacks vision with the academy put in such a fine performance last night.
R.I.P. Fred and Jack
Sad that the last link in the Walker legacy has passed away. Two great ambassadors for the town. Fred was the quieter of the two I believe, fitting tribute that the Rovers youth team, a product of Jacks vision with the academy put in such a fine performance last night. R.I.P. Fred and Jack walshy2866
  • Score: 0

12:03pm Thu 29 Mar 12

onlyonesimongarner says...

Worth remembering as a successful business man. but there is no connection with Rovers other than his Brother. Fred never took any interest at all in anything to do with Rovers, If he had been interested he would have kept Jack`s legacy alive. Still RIP Fred you did a lot of other things for the town.
Worth remembering as a successful business man. but there is no connection with Rovers other than his Brother. Fred never took any interest at all in anything to do with Rovers, If he had been interested he would have kept Jack`s legacy alive. Still RIP Fred you did a lot of other things for the town. onlyonesimongarner
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Thu 29 Mar 12

anotherview says...

They were men of their time, with a business that provided steel to our now, none existant, manufacturing companies. Will we ever see that kind of success again, with people working to create wealth, rather than, as now, working only to recycle it?
They were men of their time, with a business that provided steel to our now, none existant, manufacturing companies. Will we ever see that kind of success again, with people working to create wealth, rather than, as now, working only to recycle it? anotherview
  • Score: 0

2:04pm Thu 29 Mar 12

philmoulden says...

salt of the earth gentlemen with blackburn in their hearts ,r.i.p fred ,dont be waking jack up from his slumber ,he will soon want to get his head back down at the demise of B.R.F.C.
salt of the earth gentlemen with blackburn in their hearts ,r.i.p fred ,dont be waking jack up from his slumber ,he will soon want to get his head back down at the demise of B.R.F.C. philmoulden
  • Score: 0

2:12pm Thu 29 Mar 12

makaveli96 says...

RIP
RIP makaveli96
  • Score: 0

2:40pm Thu 29 Mar 12

French Rover says...

Both strong and honest Lancashire men in their own right....used to see Fred daily on the shopfloor when I worked at Walkersteel. Not a man to be messed with...not many folks left like those two these days. RIP the Walker Brothers and respect to their family.
Both strong and honest Lancashire men in their own right....used to see Fred daily on the shopfloor when I worked at Walkersteel. Not a man to be messed with...not many folks left like those two these days. RIP the Walker Brothers and respect to their family. French Rover
  • Score: 0

12:37am Fri 30 Mar 12

parrotcity says...

one fred walker theres only one fred walker
one fred walker theres only one fred walker parrotcity
  • Score: 0

9:11am Fri 30 Mar 12

Watchingyou666 says...

An era might has passed but the Lancashire Spirit should still be with us all. Too many people only want to blame others or wait for them to sort out whats wrong. We all need to sit up and start doing something for ourselves and putting the US back into useful, and taking the T out of can't. Fred and Jack should still be an inspiration to others. Take what you've got and make more of it. Come on Blackburn let's get positive about our future and our town. It's not all about football, but it's a start.
An era might has passed but the Lancashire Spirit should still be with us all. Too many people only want to blame others or wait for them to sort out whats wrong. We all need to sit up and start doing something for ourselves and putting the US back into useful, and taking the T out of can't. Fred and Jack should still be an inspiration to others. Take what you've got and make more of it. Come on Blackburn let's get positive about our future and our town. It's not all about football, but it's a start. Watchingyou666
  • Score: 0

12:08pm Fri 30 Mar 12

Dukes says...

their will never be forgotten RIP TO him.
their will never be forgotten RIP TO him. Dukes
  • Score: 0

12:30pm Fri 30 Mar 12

steviedee says...

R.I.P. Fred. you gave me a job for the summer back in 1977 and I stayed for 2 years. great times down at Hall Street.many thanks and a true gent.
R.I.P. Fred. you gave me a job for the summer back in 1977 and I stayed for 2 years. great times down at Hall Street.many thanks and a true gent. steviedee
  • Score: 0

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