See also

Family of Edwin Victor AINSLEY and Edith May LONGSTER

Husband: Edwin Victor AINSLEY (1912-1971)
Wife: Edith May LONGSTER (1915-2009)
Children: Eileen Joy AINSLEY
John Martyn AINSLEY

Husband: Edwin Victor AINSLEY


Edwin Victor AINSLEY

Name: Edwin Victor AINSLEY
Sex: Male
Father: Albert Edgar AINSLEY (1876- )
Mother: Eva BOTHAM ( - )
Birth 13 May 1912 Whitby?
Death 12 Sep 1971 (age 59) Leeds

Wife: Edith May LONGSTER



Name: Edith May LONGSTER
Sex: Female
Father: William LONGSTER (1883-1926)
Mother: Hannah Bell WHITEHEAD (1878-1947)
Birth 30 Nov 1915 Wath, Pateley Bridge
Death 14 Jul 2009 (age 93) Ilkley

Child 1: Eileen Joy AINSLEY

Name: Eileen Joy AINSLEY
Sex: Female
Spouse: Peter WEBSTER (1941-2000)

Child 2: John Martyn AINSLEY

Name: John Martyn AINSLEY
Sex: Male
Spouse: Catherine Margaret RUSHWORTH

Note on Husband: Edwin Victor AINSLEY

Opened bakery shop in Leeds in 1938 at St. Michaels Lane, Headingley.

Note on Wife: Edith May LONGSTER

Yorkshire Post Obituary.

Published Date: 17 July 2009

EDITH May Ainsley, always known as May, was born in the front room of "The Farm", at Wath, a small hamlet near Pateley Bridge. She was the eldest of the three children of William Longster, a farmer, and his wife, Hannah.

May was 11 when her father died suddenly and the family had to leave the farm, moving to Ashfield in Pateley Bridge where, from 1928 until 1933, her mother ran a small guest house.


As well as helping in the guest house, when she was a little older, May and her younger sister Eileen would take the narrow-gauge train to Middlesmoor at the head of Nidderdale where they would go to the cinema and attend dances at the temporary village which had been constructed for the building of Scar House reservoir.


In search of employment, the family moved to Leeds where May became nanny to a doctor's son in the Hyde Park area, while her sister found work at the prestigious Mathias Robinson department store and her brother Alwyn joined the Fleet Air Arm.


In 1938, May answered an advertisement in a local paper for a bakery shop assistant at a newly-opened bakery business in Headingley. She was given the job, working for Victor Ainsley who had recently qualified as a Master Baker and was the grandson of Elizabeth Botham, founder of Bothams of Whitby the well-known confectioners.


May loved her job and eventually married her "boss"– not the done thing as her mother thought at the time.


With her husband Vic they worked with little respite through the war years, battling with bread rationing and lack of ingredients whilst Vic was also in the Home Guard on fire watch at nights. The lack of ingredients meant that when they got married they had a cardboard wedding cake, although they were able to scrape together a few ingredients to bake a small fruit cake.


From these small beginnings, concentrating on fresh-from-the-oven bread and cakes, May and her husband eventually expanded the business to seven shops.


Her brother Alwyn joined the business, managing the despatch and business administration, while Eileen managed a new shop in Woodhouse Lane opposite the University.


At this shop they served the many hungry students with hot Cornish pasties which were heated in a coal-fired range in the back of the shop, as well as making freshly-prepared sandwiches in rolls. Popular fillings of the day were potted meat and sandwich spread.


From this early success, Ainsleys became one the first bakers to expand in the take-away sandwich and hot food business, the innovation providing a platform for the expansion of the business in Leeds up until today.


In running the shops, May always set the highest merchandising standards, and she inspired great loyalty from all who worked with her.


Never known to quit a job which she had once begun, she was piping names on Easter egg orders right up until the moment she had to go to hospital for the imminent birth of her son Martyn.


In 1971, devastated by the sudden death of her husband Vic at the age of 58, and advised not to take responsibility in the business for health reasons, she retired.


She handed over day-to-day responsibility to Martyn and his sister Joy, but continued to take a lifelong interest in the family business and all its developments.


The business is now in the third generation being run by her grandson James Ainsley.


After a few years, May's health improved, and never content just being at home she launched herself in to a hectic 25 years of activity.


As a founder member of the Leeds branch of Internationally Yours, an international friendship group, she attended annual conventions in the UK and throughout the world making a great many new friends on the way.


She became a member of the Soroptimist Club, the Townswomen's Guild, Headingley Flower Club and Leeds branch of Action Research for the Crippled Child. She attended St Peter's Church, Rawdon, and was an active member of the church flower group.


May's lifetime love of flowers and the Ainsleys business is recorded on the Leeds Tapestry with May holding a bunch of flowers outside the Park Square shop and representing Leeds in Bloom.


Between her activities in Leeds she travelled the world extensively, often with her sister Eileen.


May was the matriarch of the family whom she loved, tirelessly nurturing a sense of family unity. She loved to be with all her family and was never known to have missed any special occasions.


May Ainsley, who has died aged 93, is survived by her son and daughter, five grandchildren and seven great grandchildren