Obituary: Robert Pilkington, businessman

Robert Pilkington, who has died at 81, was a businessman who became the face of Graveleys, perhaps Harrogate’s best-known fish restaurant.

Robert Pilkington

Robert Pilkington, who has died at 81, was a businessman who became the face of Graveleys, perhaps Harrogate’s best-known fish restaurant.

It was a journey that took him from Lincolnshire to Liverpool, Hong Kong and most of Yorkshire. But he loved nowhere more than Harrogate.

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Educated at Lincoln Grammar, where he was active in rugby union and cricket, he began his career working for his father’s asphalting business, before moving on to the financial services sector.

But it was in the hospitality trade, especially within the pub industry, that he excelled. He ran a tight ship, ruling with an iron fist and insisting upon impeccable presentation and quality of product.

He retired in 2003, dividing his time between southern Spain and his property in Lincoln. But after just five years he felt compelled to join his sons and daughter-in-law in the running of Graveleys, an elegant establishment on Harrogate’s Cheltenham Parade. He never missed a day, and was respected and courted for his opinions and wisdom.

He is survived by three children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.