A FORMER Burnley Market cafe owner affectionately known as the “Chip Butty King” has hit 100 years old.
George Holden, the eponymous owner of the long-running market business, celebrated his birthday milestone surrounded by scores of friends and family.
He received a birthday message from the Queen and the Mayor and Mayoress of Burnley joined the party at Woodside Care Home and raised a toast to his special century celebrations.
George said: “It has all been a bit overpowering really. It is nice to see all the faces that I have known over the years.
“When you get together like this is brings back a lot of memories. All the memories are coming to life again.”
George was born in Lowerhouse in 1911 but moved to Cornholme after his father contracted TB while fighting in the Great War.
His took his first job aged 15 at Wilson Brothers Bobbin Company Ltd where he earned what would now be 50p a week working 11 hour days.
Even in his early years he showed his aptitude for business by selling chickens and eggs at open markets around Burnley.
He was called up to the Forces in 1941 and was posted to Baghdad in Iraq where he developed his celebrated catering skills.
Here he became regimental Sergeant Major and “chief cook” of his unit, preparing meals for around 5,000 hungry troops and even the Royal Family of Iraq.
After the war he moved back to Burnley in Ormerod Road and in 1945 he took over the lease of a Cafe in Burnley’s Market Hall which he developed and ran as a successful business.
His niece Jean Taylor said: “Here he became known as the ‘Chip Butty King.’ His reputation for quality and value for money was second to none and the business thrived.
“He was one of the leading lights in the Market Tenants’ Association and was their president for many years.”
In the early 1960s he opened one of Burnley’s first coffee bars known as “47” by the Grand Cinema and it became a popular fixture with the youngsters in the town.
The avid Clarets fan, who was a member of the “100 Club”, retired to Simonstone in 1973 where he became a parish councillor and eventually chairman of the local council.
George has always been an excellent pianist and organist and gave weekly concerts at Calderstones Hospital for 25 years and even continued to entertain residents at Woodside Care Home where he has lived since the age of 96.