End of an era as historic Lancaster furniture shop makes way for student flats

LivingWoods in North Road, Lancaster. Photo by Google Street View.
LivingWoods in North Road, Lancaster. Photo by Google Street View.

It’s the end of an era for an historic Lancaster landmark building as its final link with the furniture trade ends.

Livingwoods, which is based in the iconic listed Gillows building in North Road, officially closes its doors on Sunday to make way for a student flats development.

Neil Anderson, who took over the Lancaster shop nearly four years ago, said he would be sad to see the business close, but admitted recent times had been difficult due to ongoing roadworks in the city centre followed by the effects of the Storm Desmond flooding.

The shop, which primarily sold oak and pine furniture, has been in the building for 25 years, and known as Livingwoods for 19 years.

“It’s a fantastic building,” he said. “It is part of the original Gillows factory so it has been associated with furniture for virtually its entire life.

“We are disappointed that we are having to move out.”

Mr Anderson said that the business will continue to thrive from its head office in Leyland, where it trades as Crown Furniture Ltd.

“We are still very much continuing there and the showroom will be extended to take on some of the stock from Lancaster,” he said. “We will also be still selling online.”

The building has planning permission to be converted into a range of student cluster flats, with 32 residential studios,
a gym and new glass extensions to the rear, in a phased development by Lancaster-based Cityblock.

“We were contacted by the landlord Trevor Bargh, because they had plans to redevelop the building,” Mr Anderson said. “While initially we weren’t keen to move, the costs of maintaining the building have forced us into the decision. Trading conditions have been very difficult in the last few years. While we are very disappointed to be having to close the business, we have had to accept that it was time to go. Having seen the plans I personally think they are going to do a very good job on it. As it is now it can only deteriorate.

“We would like to thank all our customers, particularly the many who have been back to us time and time again in the last 19 years, and we hope they will either come to see us in Leyland or continue to shop through our website.

“We absolutely guarantee the same level of service that they have always had.”

While the shop officially closes on Sunday, customers are still welcome over the next couple of weeks while the stock is moved to Leyland.

The student accommodation is due to be completed by September 2018.