Tom set for retirement after more than 50 years on Darwen Market

Published 26th Mar 2024

For more than five decades, Tom Turner has been a familiar face on Darwen Market –  some say that he’s part of the furniture there.

In fact, he was only a lad when he first started – taking two mornings a week off school to help his Dad and others on the their stalls.

Indeed, working on the market runs through his blood with three or four generations of his family, including his Dad, Grandma and Grandad, having had stalls on Darwen Market, Blackburn Market and Chorley too.

On Saturday though, Tom will be the last of the Turners to officially hang up his apron when he retires along with wife Andrea.

But the Turner name will proudly continue on Darwen Market with his loyal staff Lizzie Sutton and Debbie Cooper taking on his two stalls.

And, far from a quiet retirement, Tom will still be busy on his farm at Tockholes, supplying Lizzie with the finest lamb and beef – both hugely popular with customers travelling from far and wide.

Tom said of his retirement:

“It’s the right time to go,”

“I hadn’t really had thoughts of packing up and everyone is shocked, but when I told someone recently, they said: ‘Tom, you’ve done your shift and someone else’s as well.

“With all the 4am starts, it certainly feels like that!”

Tom recalls how his teacher once came to visit his Dad on the then outdoor market when he’d kept him off school to help.

He adds:

“Back then, I would work every Monday morning and Wednesday morning on the market.

“I could bone a body of beef at the age of 12!

“A teacher came to speak to my Dad as he was concerned about me missing school and he didn’t see any issue telling them I was learning something – a trade – and earning money too. And so it began!”

Tom said he felt like he’d ‘won the lottery’ when he inherited the Turner’s butchers stall from his Dad and his farm from his Uncle.

He adds:

“I’ve always absolutely loved my job.

“Darwen has been so good to us and we have some brilliant customers – three or four generations of the same family all shopping with us.

“I’m happiest when I’m on the front of the counter serving and I’ve no doubt that I’ll be back at some point to help Lizzie out if she needs a holiday.”

Lizzie started working for Tom 16 years ago and will take on the fresh meat stall with her husband Jordan soon joining the new team too, keeping the family theme going strong.

She said:

“We’re all sad to see Tom go, but he deserves to enjoy a long retirement, busy on his farm.

“Turner’s has long been part of Darwen Market and I’ve loved working with Tom over the years, learning the trade.

“I helped him out for one Saturday years ago and have never left.

“I’m excited to take on the stall and do Tom proud.

“We’ll be developing our deliveries and are looking forward to putting our own stamp on it, but we’ll remain the same Turner’s that everyone loves and trusts.

Debbie, who has been shopping at Tom’s stalls since being a girl, said she is ‘honoured’ to be taking on the cooked meats and cheese stall.

She added:

“I’m nervously excited to take on the stall.

“Tom has been a part of Darwen Market for as long as any of us can remember and has worked so hard.

“It’s time for him to leave it to us and enjoy life – we really will do him proud.”

Both Lizzie and Debbie will officially take on the ropes after Tom retires on Saturday (March 30th).

They said they’re both looking forward to seeing the huge investment planned for the market as part of the Darwen Town Deal.

With Blackburn with Darwen Council contributions, there’s more than £20m ear-marked for the Market Hall, library, theatre and Darwen Youth Centre.

Martin Eden, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s Strategic Director for Environment and Operations, said:

“We’d like to wish Tom and Andrea a very long and happy retirement – they both certainly deserve it.

“Tom has dedicated more than 50 years to Darwen Market and is fondly known by the whole community – always smiling behind the counter.

“Turner’s has long been part of the fabric of Darwen Market and we’re so pleased that Lizzie and Debbie will be keeping the businesses going.

“We’d like to wish them both the best of luck for the future.”

Darwen Market is open from 8:30am to 5pm on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It’s also open 8am to 4pm on Saturdays.

For more on the market, including a what’s on guide, visit:

Download the latest
Shuttle Extra

The Shuttle Extra is packed full of features from right across Blackburn with Darwen. Find out more about our place, our people, what’s on and our vision for the future by reading this digital version now! Or, use the contact us box below to request a printed version.

Contact our
Investment Team