Bungay: Nursey sheepskin firm faces closure after 168 years

EADT Business East...Sarah Chambers; Sheepskin headwear at Nursey of Bungay; Picture Owen Hines

EADT Business East...Sarah Chambers; Sheepskin headwear at Nursey of Bungay; Picture Owen Hines - Credit: Archant

A family-run business that has been hand-making clothes in Bungay since 1846 and was responsible for creating Del Boy Trotter’s famous sheepskin coat, is facing closure.

EADT Business East...Sarah Chambers
Managing director Tim Nursey and father Samuel 'Burton' Nurse

EADT Business East...Sarah Chambers Managing director Tim Nursey and father Samuel 'Burton' Nursey beside a picture of Burton's father Samuel Parker Nursey (right) and grandfather Samuel James Nursey (centre) and a Mr Pipe the last tanning worker from the old premises. Picture Owen Hines EADT BUSINESSEAST 8/1/08

For five generations Nursey of Bungay has been making leather and sheepskin clothes, but Tim Nursey, the current managing director, confirmed that if a buyer is not found to take over the business, they will be forced to close next month.

HISTORY: Staff outside Nursey's in the last century

HISTORY: Staff outside Nursey's in the last century - Credit: Archant

Mr Nursey, who had the business handed down to him by his father in the 1970s, said: “We are in talks with a company to take over parts of the business. It is possible that there might be another firm as well that could be interested.

Flyer jacket £499

Flyer jacket £499 - Credit: Archant

“As the situation stands at the moment we are due to cease manufacturing on March 19 unless something crops up.

“We will then reopen our shop in October for four months to sell off our stock.”

Mr Nursey, who said they have made thousands of sheepskin coats in the last 50 years, said it was a difficult decision to make and that the business is in limbo.

He added: “We haven’t made a profit for a number of years, costs are going up every year and it has been another mild winter.”

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The company uses the highest quality toscana and merino lambskin as well as Italian leather, which is turned into coats, slippers, gilets, gloves, hats and many other products by the workshop’s team of expert seamstresses and cutters – many of whom have been with the company for more than 25 years.

Their coats have attracted celebrity buyers such as television presenter Holly Willoughby and musician Eric Clapton – who sketched the design on the back of an envelope. Probably the most famous coat ever made by Nursey belonged to David Jason. The Only Fools and Horses star was renowned for his sheepskin coat, and loved it so much that Nursey made one for the show and one for his private use.

Nursey of Bungay, based in Upper Olland Street, was acknowledged for its commitment to handmade production in 2011 when it was awarded the 2010 Countryside Alliance Award at the House of Lords for Britain’s best traditional business.

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