Bungay business celebrates national award

A FAMILY-RUN business that has been hand-making clothes in Bungay for more than 220 years has won a prestigious national award.

For five generations Nursey and Son has been making leather and sheepskin clothes and this week their commitment to hand-made production was acknowledged as they were named Britain's best traditional business.

On Wednesday, managing director Tim Nursey travelled to London where he was presented with the 2010 Countryside Alliance Award at the House of Lords by Defra minister Richard Benyon.

Mr Nursey said the day was a wonderful experience and the whole company was over-the-moon at the award.

He said: 'A member of the public nominated us, but we don't have a clue who it was. They must have thought we did something outstanding and it is really quite moving.

'The Countryside Alliance is all about trying to preserve rural skills and business and there are not many people doing what we do.

'To have our products recognised at national level is wonderful for all our loyal staff, both past and present.'

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Mr Nursey also said that his father Burton Nursey, 91, was delighted at the news.

The company has been making leather and sheepskin products in Bungay since 1790. Today all of their coats, hats and slippers are still cut by hand, with one machinist responsible for making the complete product.

It was this that impressed the judges, with Countryside Alliance chief executive Alice Barnard calling the business 'part of the fabric of village life'.

Probably the most famous coat ever made by Nursey belonged to a certain Derek Trotter.

Only Fools and Horses' Del Boy was renowned for his sheepskin coat, but few know it was actually made by the Bungay business.

Mr Nursey said: 'We made one up for the show and made one for David Jason's private use at that time.

'We also did a leather coat for Eric Clapton. He did a sketch on the back of an envelope and we made it from that.'

Although the business is focused on its traditional production methods, it has embraced modern developments, with their website helping at a difficult time for the high street.

'Lots of independent shops used to sell our products. In the '50s, '60s, '70s and '80s there were hundreds but over the years most have closed and we have had to change with it,' said Mr Nursey.

The company currently employs 17 people, with many having been there for their entire working lives.

Supervising coat cutter Tony Roe, 64, joined when he left school and will retire this year.

'We still do it by hand, that has not changed since I have been here. It is an old traditional company that has seen massive companies come and go,' he said.

'It has stuck to tradition and that is probably why it has survived. It is not a cheap product, but if you want to buy a coat that will last 20-30 years, this is it.'

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