A FAMILY firm is about to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

Calverts of Taunton started trading in Station Road on November 14, 1944 after Dennis Calvert (senior) and his wife Annie acquired the furniture store from Mr Pearce, who had run it for 26 years.

Dennis had served his apprenticeship at Bainbridges of Newcastle before working for Hatchers of Taunton, where he met Annie.

The couple married in 1924 and moved to Croydon, in Surrey, returning to Annie's home in Stoke St Gregory shortly before the outbreak of the Second World War.

When Dennis and Annie set up in Station Road, wartime restrictions were in place and he acquired stock from wholesalers and customers who had either been bombed out or were newly married and had not found homes to move into and had dockets to acquire furniture.

He put the items into stock with the proviso he could show it on the sales floor.

The couple's son Alan joined the firm after he left school, making deliveries in the company's 1934 Austin van, a converted milk float.

They needed to take £8 a day and were delighted to recored takings of £32 on the opening day.

Dennis (junior) joined in 1953 after completing his National Service. His wife, Heather, was taken on in 1960 and, with several years in the fashion trade behind her, introduced the soft furnishings department, which is today ably managed by Lin Cleaves.

Small improvements were made in the early days, but after 1953 showrooms were developed and opened for fuller selection and display.

After Dennis (senior) and Annie died in 1969 and 1975 respectively, Dennis (junior) and Heather took over the reins.

Calverts has over the years expanded along Station Road, acquiring adjoining properties - Pitman's Butchers, Pearce's Sweet Shop, Reed and Giles' Fishmongers and Poole the Ironmongers - now boasting eight shop fronts with 25,000 square feet of showrooms over two floors and customer parking off Canal Road.

Over the years, Calverts has developed a loyal customer base offering quality furniture, upholstery, beds, floor coverings and window treatments from design led manufacturers, always evolving and developing its ranges to suit changing styles in interior design.

Dennis puts the secret of Claverts' longevity down to its staff.

He said: "We have always had excellent and knowledgeable staff who give honest and impartial advice to our customers.

"Calverts has a family feel and the staff are very much part of this. Some have been with us for over 40 years."

Calverts remains a family business, with Susan, Dennis and Annie's grand-daughter, joining the business three and half years go, along with store manager Helen Dugdale.

Dennis added: "With the support of the staff, the business is looking forward to an exciting future on Taunton's high street."