Our story starts as Britain and the rest of Europe was experiencing peace for the first time in six years following the end of the Second World War. It was in 1946 that Mr. Montgomery Ashton opened his new shop at a site at 6 Lloyds Avenue, Ipswich. In a premises formerly used as an off license and owned by Lloyds Bank, it was the perfect small space for a new business venture.
(From left to right) Dennis Root, Ken Root, Fred Bond, and Ray Root.
For many years, Monty’s business went from strength to strength. However, he found himself seeking retirement. In a neighbourly conversation over the fence one afternoon he mentioned this to Raymond Root. Already an established businessman, Raymond and his brothers had a fleet of ice cream vans and mobile shops, which served the numerous housing estates across the town of Ipswich. Excited by the idea of running a specialist tobacconist, Raymond made an offer to Monty and eventually took over the business in the year 1972.
Ray Root and Rita, late 1970s.
Like Monty, after years of running the shop and becoming somewhat of an expert in lighter repairs, Raymond was also seeking retirement. It was decided that his son Gary, and Gary’s business partner would take over the business; and Gary’s wife, Mina would take on the management of the shop. A former nurse, Mina had a lot to learn but threw herself into the role and would go on to run a thriving business for close to 30 years.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mina would take early retirement and hand over the management of the shop in 2017 to its longest running staff member, Shirley Debenham. Shirley, who joined the company as an apprentice at 16, knows the business inside out and is its current manager dealing with the day-to-day running of the shop.