Pateley Bridge's The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World has been sold to a new owner - and he's just 23

A young entrepreneur has promised to retain tradition and excellence after taking over one of Yorkshire's most famous independent shops.

Ben Howie, 23, has purchased The Oldest Sweet Shop in the World from well-known Pateley Bridge businessman Keith Tordoff MBE.

Mr Tordoff, a former police officer, decided to step down from the sweet counter to pursue his political ambitions - he is standing as an independent candidate in the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner elections in North Yorkshire in May.

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Mr Howie, who grew up in Knaresborough and attended Ampleforth College, worked for JCB after leaving university and was on the hunt for a business of his own when he saw that the sweet shop was for sale last year.

The shop building dates back to 1661

He has committed to keeping the unique 200-year-old shop's existing suppliers and products unchanged - it has been trading continuously since 1827 - but has been taking advantage of more recent innovations but running a thriving online sales arm during lockdown.

He will also to continue to employ Mr Tordoff's brother-in-law, who has worked at the shop for the past six years.

"I've got childhood memories of coming to the shop, and in Pateley Bridge I was always fascinated by the traditional family businesses that sold high-quality products - it's partly what drew me in," said Mr Howie.

"With confectionary, it's the heritage that interests me - each sweet is made with recipes passed down through generations by the sweet makers who supply us. We use companies that are mostly local, they are all brilliant and some of the recipes date back over 100 years.

"Keith always says the shop is a living, working museum, and I want to keep it very similar. Some of the jars we have have been in the shop since sweet jars first began to be used!"

Mr Howie has reported a 'big surge' in online orders since the shop has been closed

"We stock sweets that people can't find anywhere else, and we use traditional packaging that makes us stand out."

His predecessor was chair of the Nidderdale Chamber of Trade, and Mr Howie is also keen to get involved with the collective activities of the traders based on Pateley Bridge's award-winning high street.

He hopes to be able to re-open when restrictions on non-essential retail ease in April.

"It will be good to get a bit of normality back, and see our local customers again. We have people who travel from all over, but we've had the same people coming in for many years for their quarter of sweets to last the week, and they ask us to keep the shop the way it is."