Obituary: Peggy Proudfoot, designer and Scarborough businesswoman

Peggy Proudfoot
Peggy Proudfoot
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Peggy Proudfoot, who has died at 97, was doyen of the Scarborough supermarket chain that still bears her family name, and for many years a prominent fashion illustrator, turning out window designs, hat boxes for the leading London stores and her own company’s distinctive logo.

Margaret Mary ‘Peggy’ Proudfoot was born in Pontefact and moved with her family to Scarborough as a child, initially to Merchants Row and later Westbourne Park. She went to Scarborough Girls’ High School but it was at the Technical College School of Art, on Valley Road, that she developed her artistic skills.

After the war, in which she served as an army sergeant, she began working for many of the London fashion houses, and her advertising drawings appeared in the New York Times and Vogue, as well as the top fashion magazines of the day.

Besides taking on work for Harrods, Jenner, Binns and Marshall and Snelgrove, she designed material for the Rowntrees department stores back in Scarborough and York, contributing the Rowntrees company logo. Eventually, she expanded her business, establishing Fashion Illustrator Ltd.

But it was the Proudfoot supermarket chain with which she was most associated. She and her late husband, Wilf, who was also at various times an MP, hypnotherapist and operator of an offshore radio station, set it up in 1948, after Wilf had seen some of the early American grocery stores.

The first shop was at Seamer, and with the building of new branches in Newby, Eastfield, Whitby, Withernsea and Barton-upon-Humber, it became one of the biggest independent family enterprises of its kind.

Wilf, who was Conservative MP for Cleveland and Whitby, and later Brighouse and Spenborough, in the 1960s and 1970s, and who also ran Yorkshire’s first and last pirate station, Radio 270, headed the company while Peggy took a keen interest in its expansion, remaining a director until 2017.

Outside her businesses, her interests lay in the language and culture of Spain, where the family kept a property.

Wilf, to whom she was married for 63 years, died in 2013, and she is survived by three children and five grandchildren.