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Founder of iconic Ilkley hardware shop ‘loved by all’
The founder of Yorkshire’s most famous hardware store has died at the grand age of 101.
Ralph Morten, founder of R W Morten, in Cunliffe Road, Ilkley, passed away peacefully shortly before midnight on October 15.
Originally from Buxton, in Derbyshire, and a plumber by trade, he married his late wife Barbara on October 16, 1937, and on the same day the couple came to Ilkley, picking up the keys to the hardware shop.
During the Second World War Mr Morten served in the Royal Engineers, while Barbara kept the shop going with the help of her sister.
Mr Morten took part in the D-Day landings, landing at Juno beach and was involved in the building of Bailey bridges.
On his return to Ilkley he focused all his energy building up his hardware business. Originally the shop operated from one unit of the Victorian building but over the years as neighbouring properties came up for sale the business expanded to take over the whole ground floor of the building.
In the 1960s, Mr and Mrs Morten, who did not have any children, bought a piece of land in King’s Road, Ilkley, and had a house built, of which he was very proud.
Mr Morten retired from the hardware business in 1977, and while Barbara liked to tend the garden and keep house, her husband spent a great deal of his time in his engineering workshop, which occupied the entire top floor of his house.
It was here he created intricate clocks and even made a replica of a German field gun, which is now on display in the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.
He also had an interest in pyrotechnics and celebrated his 100th birthday at his home in King’s Road last year, with a fireworks display.
Family friend and carer Lindsey Sutherland, who had contact with Mr Morten every day for 43 years said he had lived out his later years comfortably at home with the help of family and friends, including his loyal friend David Harrison.
“I lived in awe of his engineering work,” said Mr Sutherland, 52.
“He was so clever – he lived and breathed his workshop, it was his pride and joy.”
He added: “He had a long and happy life. He was a proper gentleman and loved by all.”
Mr Morten’s funeral takes place tomorrow at 1.30pm at Christchurch on The Grove, Ilkley.