The first person to set foot in Damart’s Bingley head office when it opened in 1967 has been helping to celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary.
Leonard Falkingham, 84, who was the works engineer, has two scrapbooks full of everything that happened over the 27 years he worked for the home-shopping brand, which now employs more than 600 people in Bingley and Steeton.
Highlights of his years there include meeting Princess Diana when she visited Damart in 1991, seeing the canal being moved into the car park to make way for a new road in 1992 and his surprise retirement party organised by the company’s directors.
“I was the first person through the doors in 1967, it was an old mill and was in a bit of a state with oil over the floor. It was my job to make it habitable and I enjoyed every minute of it.”
Leonard, whose grandsons now work at Damart, was invited to the company’s 60th anniversary firework celebrations and wore the same blazer he wore when Princess Diana visited.
“It’s good to share my memories of Damart and I’ve enjoyed being part of the celebrations.
“Many of the people I worked with have now left, of course, but it’s lovely to hear what’s happening now.”
Damart was established in 1953 in France, launched in the UK in 1966 and opened at its headquarters in Bingley in 1967.
As part of the 60th anniversary celebrations staff from Bingley and the warehouse at Steeton have been enjoying a variety of different activities including dressing up in the styles of the different decades, while the staff canteens have been serving recipes from the past sixty years.
Damart also produced a specially-designed commemorative customer newsletter, 60th anniversary packaging for Damart’s more than a million UK customers and customer competitions to win mini ipads, radios and cameras running across 60 days.
Marketing and E-commerce director, Phil Anderson said:
“Damart has a rich heritage as an innovator starting 60 years ago when we invented our famous thermolactyl and we wanted to celebrate that history with our colleagues, former colleagues and customers.
“It’s great to hear all about Leonard’s memories and see his fabulous collection of material which is all part of our history.
“It’s a really interesting company, we’ve clothed everyone from Princess Diana and Ranulph Fiennes to Geri Halliwell and the cast of Coronation Street and we’re even mentioned in a James Bond book.
“We look forward to the next 60 years and beyond.”