David Richmond

DAVID Richmond, a businessman who was a friend and advisor to hundreds of farmers in the Ripon area for more than 40 years, has died aged 83.

David Richmond

He was the proprietor of F and G (Farm and Garden) Supplies in High Skellgate, Ripon, where customers nicknamed him Arkwright because he looked like the character played by Ronnie Barker in the television series Open All Hours.

His brother John, a former Mayor of Ripon, said: “Everybody called him Arkwright because he was a portly figure in a smock. He had a moustache and used to rub his hands together. The only thing he did not have to complete the picture was a stutter.”

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The son of Harry and Eleanor Richmond, of Warren Lane Farm, Galphay, near Ripon, Mr Richmond was not interested in taking up farming, but he was known and trusted by almost every farmer within 20 miles and the contacts were invaluable when he later set up his own business.

After leaving Ripon Grammar School with School Certificate qualifications, he was taken on as an apprentice by the pharmaceutical company Boots at its shop in Old Market Place, Ripon, where he qualified as a dispenser.

After National Service in the Royal Air Force where his medical knowledge was put to good use, he returned to Boots in Ripon. The manager, Arthur Bruce, put him in charge of dealing with a farm supplies department, which included selling animal medicines to farmers and vets.

The department became so successful that Boots offered Mr Richmond the post of manager when the company decided to set up a regional farm supplies depot at Starbeck Station, in Harrogate, with a team of fieldsmen selling products directly to farmers.

Mr Richmond declined the post because he did not think sending fieldsmen to call on farmers would be a success. In 1966 he took a lease from the Ripon Masonic Lodge and opened F and G Supplies in a building which dated from the 15th century.

His business, which included many customers he had helped while working for Boots, became very successful and was expanded to supply seed potatoes from Scotland, seeds and fertiliser for local allotment societies and a variety of foods for cage bird enthusiasts.

At that time the shop, in High Skellgate, did not have yellow lines on the road and customers were used to pulling up outside and loading straight into their vehicles. Mr Richmond, who ran the shop for a number of years with his cousin, Ken Ellis, was horrified when parking restrictions were imposed.

His brother said: “It started a bit of a cat and mouse game with traffic wardens. Many a time a sack of dog food was hastily loaded into the boot of someone’s car and the warden was told they were loading to avoid getting a ticket. Then 10 minutes later the dog food was brought back and unloaded.

“Years after the yellow lines went down, farmers and vets were still pulling up outside. They hurriedly gave David an order and often drove round the block before returning to collect. David would have their order piled up ready and would add the bill to the account.

“It was an era when farmers attempted to treat their own livestock before turning to a vet, which they thought would be expensive. Often, with a bit of help and advice from David, they were successful. They trusted him and as far as I know he was never left with any bad debts.”

Mr Richmond, who survived bladder cancer 15 years ago, was in his mid seventies when he retired in 2005.

He is survived by his wife Joan, brother John and sister Joyce Atkinson.

A funeral service will be held in Allhallowgate Methodist Church in Ripon next Wednesday, February 19, at 1.30pm.