A FAMILY-run opticians based in Chorley Old Road has celebrated its centenary and is now looking forward to the future with a thriving website boosting sales.

Bowden Opticians opened in May 1921 as a chemist and opticians by James Yardley Bowden based in Higher Market Street, Farnworth.

The business was then passed down to his son Jack Bowden, then Jack's son Mark qualified in 1981 and joined the family firm.

Mark established a second practice on Chorley Old Road in 1990, where the business continues to this day.

Jack died in June 2020, a week after his 99th birthday.

In 1997 Mark realised the importance of modernising the business and launched a website specialising in sports eyewear called Hobbyspex. In 2002 he set up a second site called Spex4less, which he later sold.

Mark then developed Bowden's own website, which now stocks around 3,000 frames.

Mark's children have gone on to forge careers outside the world of optometry, but he has no plans of retiring from the family firm despite celebrating his 60th birthday this year.

He said: "Originally we had great plans to celebrate our centenary, if my father had still been here we would have organised a big party to celebrate but with last year being so hard with his death we have not done anything to celebrate.

"If he was here now he'd be asking all about the business, he was always checking in and loved hearing about all of the developments.

"It kept him stimulated I think, a lot more interesting than watching daytime TV. He always wanted to know about all the online developments too.

"A key turning point in the business was when I spotted the gap in the market for specialist sports eyewear. Since then we've had customers visit from as far away as Australia and Mauritius - where one man regularly orders glasses for snooker.

"During the first lockdown last year I was only able to do triage appointments over the phone but I used that time to completely overhaul the website and grow online. I increased our range of frames from 1,000 to 3,000 and it's trebled our business.

"We have regular customers who've been with us for years at the shop too.

"I'm planning on staying here for a long time yet - I've reduced my hours slightly so I can fit some golf in, but I love working here."