Gibbon Bridge has a long history and hopefully still has many more years to add to it. The success achieved over the years has not been easy and it has taken a dedicated team with lots of energy and determination to ensure its continued success.
Janet Simpson – Proprietor, Gibbon Bridge Hotel
Janet Simpson, a unique woman, born 26th July 1941 in Inskip - Lancashire, was the only child of Alf and Maggie Simpson. Growing up on a Lancashire family farm was not easy for Janet in the 40’s and 50’s; it meant helping with daily chores as well as early morning starts for the local village school.
However, farm life taught Janet practical skills, including how to drive a tractor at the age of 10, but also, under the experienced eye of her mother Maggie, cooking and baking.
Janet quickly picked up these skills and then practised them for a further ten years from 1961 at The Dog and Partridge in Chipping, where Janet worked her way up from General Assistant to Chef. It was around this time the family took over the tenancy at Gibbon Bridge Farm, Chipping and later grasped the opportunity to purchase the farmhouse, the barn and a portion of the land. However, farming still proved to be harsh with little reward.
New opportunities arose when Janet’s mother, Maggie, opened a stall on Blackburn Market selling homemade cakes, pies and pastries, all baked in the farmhouse at Gibbon Bridge. This enterprise went so well the family bought a shop and Janet left the Dog & Partridge to assist in it’s running. As the business expanded to include outside catering so did Janet’s business skills, together with a realisation that teamwork played an important part in business success.
It was the network of loyal friends, family (especially Aunty Bell and Aunty Evelyn) and employees that supported Janet and her mother through the difficult years after her father, Alf, died in 1977. It was also the time when Janet, with strong encouragement from Maggie, began to have ideas for the future and the seeds of Gibbon Bridge Hotel were sown.
In 1982 Maggie & Janet took the plunge and Gibbon Bridge was born; a restaurant & bar with six bedrooms. Over the years the business expanded and Janet, with her eclectic eye, rescued the gothic stonework from a church that was being knocked down, and then incorporated it into the next building project. In 1989 the “new block” was added and the hotel grew to 30 bedrooms. The Bandstand was added in 1995 when it became possible to hold a civil ceremony outside of the Lancashire Registry Office and Gibbon Bridge was host to the first outside Civil Ceremony in Lancashire. The Orangery was created in 2010 and this time Janet incorporated the reclaimed pillars from the Public Hall in Preston to create a stunning room suitable for private dining and Civil Ceremonies. Janet never sits still for long and in January 2015 the Conservatory and garden terrace were extended, with bifolding glass doors added to enable the room to be completely opened up, a feature mirror and glass chandeliers – handmade in South Africa – were also added to adorn this beautiful room “with a view”. We are not quite sure what the next project will be but undoubtedly Janet will have something in mind……