R.H (Richard) Downs

Richard Downs
Richard Downs

ONE of Driffield’s best known businessmen has died in Spain, aged 92.

R.H. (Richard) Downs first came to Driffield in 1948 to manage an optical practice in King Street, behind what was then the Hoppers Tobacconist.

He eventually bought the business from a Mr Matthews, of Scarborough, expanding the firm into Cottingham, Pocklington and for a time Malton.

He then started what was to become “Vertex Optical Ltd”, quickly building this to employ some 150 people in Albion Street, Driffield.

‘Cindico’ was to come next, making baby bouncers on licence to a Canadian company.

He developed the Cindico Baby Bouncer to a new design.

Other products followed and in 1972 they company to new premises on Skerne Road, Driffield, developing the business into pushchair production etc.

‘Vertex’ moved to Skerne Road in late 1972 because the business had grown out of the Albion Street premises which were developed for ‘Rodway Optical Industries Ltd’, a company which was bought from the Rodway family.

Richard Downs in his various aircraft was a familiar sight in the skies over the Yorkshire Wolds as he travelled to expand the group’s business abroad.

He moved to live in Guernsey in the 1970’s and subsequently moved on to Malaga in Spain, where he regretfully died, aged 92 years, on September 23.

He established a ‘25 Year Club’ of long serving employees, holding reunions every five years, held in such places as Amsterdam, London, Jersey and Guernsey, personally hosting these weekends which were enjoyed and appreciated by all.

The group, in the 1980’s, employed just under 600 people in all it’s companies - a major contributor over many years to the Driffield economy.