Tributes for 'truly amazing' former owner of popular Burnley roadside diner who has died at the age of 71

The former owner of a popular Burnley roadside cafe has died at the age of 71.

Wednesday, 17th March 2021, 3:45 pm
Tony Shufflebottom, who ran the popular eaterie, Big T's Diner in Burnley, for several years, has died at the age of 71

Tony Shufflebottom ran 'Big T's Diner' in the Rossendale Road lay-by for 14 years with his wife Lesley.

Lesley did all the cooking and Tony was responsible for serving and chatting to customers, a role he took to with ease.

Lesley said: "Tony was in his element in the cafe, he loved being around people, he was so outgoing and friendly, a truly amazing man."

Tony ran Big T's Diner with his wife Lesley

Attracting loyal customers from all over, the cafe was open seven days a week and only closed at Christmas and New Year. The couple eventually sold the cafe almost four years ago when they decided to retire.

Lesley added: "We were open in all weathers and it was hard work but we worked so well together as a team and we loved the business."

Tony had a passion for geography and displayed a world map at the diner. He prided himself on knowing the capital city of every country in the world and customers would often try and catch him out with questions.

Lesley said: "They never succeeded, he got the answer right every time."

Tony and Lesley on their wedding day nine years ago

Blackburn born Tony moved to Burnley as a child and attended St Mary Magdalene's RC Primary School and then St Mary's College in Blackburn until the age of 16. Tony then worked for the former Burco Dean and Belling companies in Burnley.

He later worked at the former Dorma factory in Burnley, rising through the ranks to be appointed manager, a position he held for around 30 years. It was here he met Lesley and the couple, who tied the knot nine years ago, were together for 19 years.

They made the decision to buy the cafe when Dorma closed down.

Due to him being so tall Tony had earned the nickname 'Big T' from family and close friends so it seemed the natural choice as the new name for the diner.

A big fan of any type of sport, especially football, Tony was also a a keen mathematician and quiz buff and accomplished quiz master. In his younger days he enjoyed rock climbing and pot holing.

A talented crown green bowler when a young man, Tony played for Lancashire. He had to stop playing after suffering problems with his eyesight but later joined St Andrew's Bowling Club in Burnley.

And although he couldn't play Tony was a much valued member of the team for the expert advice he gave to players.

Tony was also an avid pool player and a regular at the green baize at his former local The Commercial in Harle Syke.

Together with his best man and best friend, well known Burnley man Brian Parker, Tony had raised money for Pendleside Hospice. The daring duo even did a a skydive to raise funds.

Devoted to his eight grandchildren, Tony leaves three daughters, Samantha, Deborah and Victoria, stepdaughter Jessica and stepson Matthew. He also leaves a brother, Paul and sister, Anne

Tony's funeral will be held next Thursday (March 25th) at Burnley Cemetery at 1-30pm.

Although numbers are restricted due to Covid-19 restrictions, people are invited to attend the burial, observing social distancing rules.

People will also have the chance to pay their respects as the cortege is due to stop for several minutes on Rossendale Road, at the site of the diner, at 1-15pm.