Well-known Todmorden greengrocer Francis Boocock dies

Well-known Todmorden greengrocer Francis Boocock has died.

Wednesday, 23rd June 2021, 1:11 pm
Franic Boocock
Franic Boocock

Francis was born and bred in Todmorden representing the county in cross-country and boxing at school before working at Ormerod’s Engineering in Hebden Bridge.

He first saw Irene one lunchtime, in St. George’s Square, mentioning to his work colleague that she looked ‘like a picture on a chocolate box’. Their relationship developed and included Saturday night dancing at the Co-op Hall in Todmorden, trips to the cinema with items from the greengrocery stall (where he now worked with his dad), including pineapples, strawberries, monkey nuts and memorably, a coconut that rolled all the way down the circle at the Hebden Bridge Cinema.

Irene and Francis married at St Joseph’s church in 1962 and over the next few years, Andrew, Louise and Rachael were born, completing the family.

Francis was a stalwart on the Market for many years, loved his work and enjoyed working with (probably hundreds) of people over time. Bananas were clearly a loss leader as many folks recall children being gifted with a ‘nana with a smiley face drawn on it. The fairy in the brown paper bag trick was also often employed, to the children’s delight, and newcomers to the town were greeted by: ‘Are you new to the town? Welcome to Paradise!’ The family also ran the shop across the road from the stall with its distinctive yellow shutters proudly announcing: ‘Say it with flowers but say it with ours!’ Francis was a talented flower arranger, creating countless wedding bouquets and other floral tributes for the people of Todmorden.

Since his passing, his family have been delighted and their spirits lifted by the kind words shared with them, including his many sayings and observations, including ‘Fraught with danger’, and ‘Eight peas in every pod and every pod a mouthful!’ and by the musings from many of the weekend girls and boys as they remembered, and acknowledged, how working on the stall had increased their confidence and in some small part helped with future plans and careers.

He was an avid walker, exploring the local moors (with occasional detours via the Shepherds Rest for well-deserved refreshment).

Holidays later included regular visits to Austria where he and Irene spent their days admiring the stunning scenery, meeting up with old friends, walking the mountains and enjoying the Tyrolean cuisine.

Language skills also developed with Francis learning how to order “Ein Großes Bier, bitte”, fluently. His final task on each holiday was visiting the local baker’s then staggering back with a bag stuffed with Semmel rolls.

He was involved in the nascent Incredible Edible and loved to share the history of the market and his profession with local schools, organisations, ever ready to involve the community in the town he loved.

He always upheld the tradition of Todmorden as a market town, appearing on TV and radio, gathering another set of fans.

Francis passed away at 5pm, the time on the market stall when he would issue the phrase, ‘All right everyone – let’s get packed up!’ He wouldn’t have wanted to clock off any earlier!