Founder of iconic valley store Russell Dean dies

editorial image

Tributes have been paid to the founder of an iconic Mytholmroyd furniture store following his death.

Russell Dean, 88, of Russell Dean Fine Furnishers, died on April 23 at his Cragg Vale home after contracting pneumonia. He was also battling oesophageal cancer, after being diagnosed at the end of 2014.

Mr Dean, founder of the much-respected Burnley Road business, was born on Commercial Street in Hebden Bridge. He went to school in Mytholm and during the Second World War, moved away from the area and drove ambulances in the Royal Air Force.

After a short stint in the RAF, he moved back to the Calder Valley and took on an engineering apprenticeship with the Burnley Aircraft Company and became a sheet metal worker.

Meanwhile, Mr Dean married his late wife Barbara after they met at a dance and they went on to have two children, Bob, 61, and Martin, 55, both of whom have worked for the family business.

In the 1950s, Mr Dean held down that job, but also decided to become a shop keeper when premises became available in Mytholmroyd.

He juggled at least three jobs at the time, but eventually decided to focus on the shop, marking the beginning of his business empire.

And true to his life motto ‘always move forward, never stand still’, the shop, originally a hardware store, expanded in size along with its product range and carpets and furniture soon became staple offerings.

In the late 1960s, the business moved to its current premises after Mr Dean bought the former weaving shed from the council.

The business got bigger and bigger and secured its position as one of the prime furniture stores in the region.

Mr Dean retired from the business in the 1980s, but still had a great fondness for the store, particularly when it took a battering in the floods of 2012 and 2015.

In his retirement, the grandfather enjoyed travelling and looking after animals. Until very recently, he was still active and enjoyed walking to Hebden Bridge.

His sons said he would make a friend of anyone and loved to talk to people. His funeral will be held at Halifax Minster on May 11 at 10.30am.