One of Harrogate’s best-known professional services firms celebrates a major milestone today.
On September 29, 1986, the Harrogate branch of Leeds stockbroker Redmayne-Bentley first opened for business in the middle of Hudson’s bookshop – enabling shoppers to browse the books and buy shares in companies such as British Aerospace or Jaguar at the same time.
Although Redmayne-Bentley had been established in Leeds since 1875, the new Harrogate branch was the first to be opened outside the firm’s head office.
Paul Meyrick, who set the branch up 30 years ago, said: “A lot of people who had never dealt with stocks and shares before had share certificates and they didn’t know what to do with them. So they came to see the chap in the bookshop!”
Before setting up the new branch, Mr Meyrick had been working at chemical company ICI – back then, a major employer in Harrogate – before being made redundant. After working as a marketing consultant for three years, he was looking for a new challenge.
“I had always been interested in the stock market,” he said. “I sat opposite a chap at ICI who kept making calls and I couldn’t understand why. He said he was trying to make some money on the stock market, had been given £500 and asked to turn it into £5,000. I thought: ‘Why don’t I switch over to something I am interested in?’.”
After taking a series of financial industry exams in London, Mr Meyrick set about trying to find a space in Harrogate to set up his own stockbroking business, before meeting a woman who had taken a Redmayne-Bentley course on buying shares.
The woman spoke to her manager, who agreed to allow Paul some space in the bookshop.
All this was in the midst of the privatisation boom, and in the months that followed, the public was invited to buy shares in British Gas, British Airways, British Airports Authority, Rolls-Royce, Royal Ordnance and British Steel.
Mr Meyrick said: “When there was a special announcement about a privatised company, there would be a queue outside the door.”
In 1997, Mr Meyrick had already decided to retire when one of his clients, chartered meteorologist Nigel Bottomley, asked if he could join the firm. Mr Bottomley said: “I had reached a point where I wanted to do something different. The opportunity was there and I decided it was now or never.”
Mr Meyrick eventually left and the business was taken over by by Nigel and his brother Colin – just in time for the dotcom boom of the late 1990s.
Now based in its own offices on Victoria Avenue, the branch employs five people, although the wider firm has grown to around 350.
Mr Meyrick added: “Life presents many challenges, but you have to do your best to deal with them. There will be hiccups, the markets will fall back, it always has done. The challenges will always go on.”