A DYNASTY in the Huddersfield entertainment world ended today.
Brothers Johnny and Joe Marsden sold have their hotel, club and restaurant complex in the heart of the town centre - ending a link stretching back 34 years.
They have sold The Huddersfield Hotel, the Boy and Barrel pub, The Palace Bar, The Rosemary Lane Bistro and the famous Johnny's nightclub to a national hotel chain.
But they did so with a promise to them that the businesses they had founded would continue and that the 90 jobs would remain.
The Marsden brothers, together with their 84-old mother, Delia, have been involved in the leisure and service industry in Huddersfield for half a century.
It was back in 1953 that Mrs Marsden and her late husband, Joe, set up a transport cafe in Southgate - right on the old A62 trans-Pennine route which preceded the M62.
It was across the road from a patch of wasteland described as "England's biggest lorry park".
And their business thrived, as they tempted scores of drivers to stop in Huddersfield for dinner, bed and breakfast, with a hot shower, for 12s.
But it was in 1969 that the brothers went into business themselves. They acquired the former Bull's Head pub in Beast Market and opened it as a nightclub called Johnny's.
It was the start of an entertainment complex on an "island" surrounded by Beast Market, Kirkgate and Southgate that was today sold to the London and Edinburgh Inns Group.
A deal was signed early today in the three-star Huddersfield Hotel and the brothers moved into semi- retirement.
They have retained the Huddersfield Central Lodge Hotel, with 12 bedrooms, in Beast Market, and also own several commercial properties in the town centre.
The business has changed hands for a substantial sum and the new owners want to keep the restaurants, hotel and club going.
Joe Marsden said: "There are two main reasons why we have decided on this move.
"We have been approached many times over the years by people wanting to buy us out, but all wanted to change things.
"Myself, my wife, Janice, Johnny, his partner, Angela, and our mother talked about it and decided there was nothing else we could do with the site.
"We have acquired it all over the years and converted many fine buildings and expanded. Huddersfield has been very good to us and I believe we have contributed a lot to the town, in terms of providing jobs and keeping old buildings.
"When we had the offer from London and Edinburgh, we liked what we saw. Other people had wanted to turn the buildings into flats, or one big boozer. They want to keep things as they are - albeit rebranded - and we agreed with them," said Mr Marsden.
"We care about the staff, we care about the buildings in which we have invested so much time and money and we care about our customers and this town.
"I have spent all my adult life working here and Johnny has done half a century in work, from the age of nine when he helped our parents at a catering function by using a pump to keep the tea urn going.
"We will miss the thousands of people who have been our regulars, but we plan to stay in Huddersfield".
Peter Gray, chief executive of London and Edinburgh's hotels division, said: "We started talking to Joe and Johnny some months ago and they are wonderful people. Our ethos is to take over successful businesses and keep them going, hopefully without people realising there has been a change.
"There are no plans to change what we have acquired in Huddersfield. We do not mess with things that work."
The company owns 250 tenanted pubs, 100 managed pubs and about 50 hotels, with some 2,500 beds. The latest buy was the 13-strong Swallow Hotels chain.
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