John says farewell to Frank Bird after 50 years of service

John Walton retires after 50 years Frank Bird
John Walton retires after 50 years Frank Bird
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A cornerstone of the city’s fashion scene is to retire after 50 years at the cutting edge.

John Walton, 65, has worked for Frank Bird Menswear since he was 15.

He started on £4 10s but has risen through the ranks to the role of manager at the clothes store on Cross Square.

But on August 10 Mr Walton will call time on his career 50 years to the day he started with the fashion firm.

He started at Frank Bird’s Barnsley branch in 1964 and can remember his first January sale as it fell on the day of Winston Churchill’s funeral.

During his long career Mr Walton has witnessed many changes.

He said: “I think people are much more clothes conscious now. I think it’s a lot more exciting now than it was then.

“There is so much scope, so much choice. There’s such an extensive range.

“The good thing about Frank Bird is that we have always tried to get something a little bit different.”

“It started changing when we started doing labels like Armani and Hugo Boss, they came in the 1980s.”

He has also seen trends repeating themselves, adding: “When I first started they used to do made to measure, then it went away, then it has come full circle and we do made to measure now.”

Mr Walton spent the first 20 years of his career working for Frank Bird in Barnsley before transferring to Wakefield in 1984.

His client list has included the likes of Geoffrey Boycott and Jane McDonald’s partner.

But in a few weeks’ time he will put the clothes on the rack for the final time.

Mr Walton said: “I can’t believe it’s been so long. I’ve loved being here that’s why I’ve only worked for one company.”

The outfitter said he will miss the staff and the customers.

Mr Walton added: ”I’ve been in Wakefield for 30 years and some of the men are coming in with their sons now.

“We have a lot of repeat business.

“I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve met some wonderful customers who I have made friends with and they keep coming back.”

He said he has enjoyed working bosses Frank Bird, his son Malcolm Bird and current managing director Richard Clews, of Ashworth and Bird, which took over six years ago.

Mr Walton, of Darton, Barnsley, plans to travel in his retirement, catching up with relatives in Canada and an old colleague in Spain.

He will also devote more time to the church he attends in Barnsley.