The book was launched at a special event held at the Barton Grange Hotel on 7 May, attended by family members, the authors and many of the people who have played a part in the history of Barton Grange.
From the early 1900s when Eddie Topping’s grandparents started growing fruit and vegetables on their Longton farm, to today’s business, employing 400 local people, there "lies a story of humble beginnings, heartache, happy times and a lot of very hard work".
At the centre of the story is Ada, Eddie’s mother, who took on the manor house at Barton and set about converting it into the Barton Grange Hotel. While her tennis, dancing and piano playing-obsessed husband pottered with his market gardening business, Ada set about making the hotel ‘the place to be’. She developed the hotel business almost single-handedly, until able to share some of the burden with her son, Eddie.
Eddie’s approach to business "makes hugely entertaining and humorous reading. Never to be deterred, ignoring advice and acting often on a whim, he forged ahead with his dreams."
Employing his sons whilst still almost toddlers and, at times, driving some of his most loyal staff to distraction, he took the garden centre side of the business from a shed on a car park to the shopping equivalent of a palace, grand enough to be opened by a Princess. Now overseen by youngest son, Guy Topping, Barton Grange Garden Centre has won the GCA Award for Destination Garden Centre of the Year for the past four years.
From the rural Preston of the late 19th century, through some fascinating accounts of living in 1920’s Preston and telling how the original manor house was requisitioned during the war, the book provides a snapshot of social history in Lancashire.
Bringing the reader right up to the present day, with Eddie’s sons now in charge, it’s an absorbing and often touching account of a family determined to succeed, but to do so with a smile on their faces, and on the faces of those who worked with them, says the authors.