Henry Ruddock: Taking his place in history

Set for an early retirement Henry Ruddock, 67, never intended to take on the family business, but due to unforeseen events he made the choice to continue the legacy of one of Lincoln’s oldest family-run businesses.

“My father always wanted his two sons to do something different, rather than just walk into the business. His reasoning for that was that he had always been expected to join the business but he wanted to pursue a career as a land agent. But then the war came and things changed,” said Henry.

The legacy of Ruddocks of Lincoln was established when Henry’s great grandfather entered into the business in 1872. The business itself had already been running since 1820. Eight years later, in 1880 he started his own business in printing which has been carried on to this day as Ruddocks Design and Print.

This feature interview was first published in issue 29 of the Lincolnshire Business weekly magazine, now available to read at www.lincsbusiness.co. Subscribe to the email newsletter to receive the latest edition in your inbox this Friday.

Issue 29 of the weekly Lincolnshire Business magazine is now available to read.

Issue 29 of the weekly Lincolnshire Business magazine is now available to read.

After WWII, Henry’s father realised that it would be a great opportunity to start an advertising company with the war being over and businesses trying to rebuild and secure their place in the future. Still not a part of the family business himself, he would use his father’s printing business for his advertising business, helping both companies to rebuild.

“Clever move. He was quite a smart guy my dad, and I am only beginning to realise this. But then eventually his father died in 1956 and his uncle died in 1965, so he gained control of the family business.”

Henry took a different career path. After working in the NHS for 16 years and making his way up to middle management, he received a phone call three months before his 50th birthday.


Henry Ruddock makes sure that nearly everything in his store has a creative theme

“He said, ‘A little bird tells me you might be interested in taking early retirement. If we made you an appropriate offer would that be the case?’ To which I replied, ‘Well it might be, I don’t know.'”

A couple of days later Henry was offered some figures of which he accepted, leading him into an early retirement at the age of 50. Excited about the news, he came to Lincoln the following Monday to tell his dad the news. His dad was still working at the age of 80 and was surprised by the news.

Not sure what he was going to do with his new found free time, Henry didn’t have much time to think about it, as the following Saturday his father died suddenly, which led Henry to take on the family business in 1997.

“How much of a choice was it? I don’t know. I suppose that I could have closed it but I never really thought of doing that because it has been going a long time.”

The full cover interview with Henry Ruddock is available to read in full here. Look out for the next edition of Lincolnshire Business magazine, which is published every Friday.