FIFTY years of providing the tired and the weary with a good night's sleep will be put to bed this Friday as York's last independent mattress and divan-maker shuts its doors.

York Bedding, in Hungate, closes at the end of the week, following the sale of the firm's city centre workshop to developers last month.

Danny Sheehan, 64, of Copmanthorpe, who owns the company with his wife Christine, began at the workshop in 1958. It had opened the year before, under the name Allen Arberry.

"That's what they called the two men who owned it - Mr Allen and Mr Arberry," he said.

"I don't know their first names because in those days, you daren't call them anything but Mister."

Mr Sheehan, a former York Rugby League club coach, and his wife took over the firm in 1982.

He said many things had changed since his days as an apprentice, but the core skills of the trade were the same.

"New ideas, like new fillings and new springs have come in," he said. "Things are more modern now, but they haven't changed that much."

He said the city had had three or four independent bed-makers when he started. There will be none once York Bedding shuts its doors.

But Mr Sheehan said he did not regret going into the business.

"I'd make the same choices again," he said. "I've enjoyed it and still get a kick out of it."

He thanked all the customers who had returned to the company over the years, saying he had only ever had to advertise in the Yellow Pages, because repeat trade had been so good.

The family tradition is set to continue, with Mr Sheehan's son, Philip, 38, currently in the process of forming a new bedding company.

But Mr Sheehan said at 64 he was ready to retire.

Hungate (York) Regeneration Ltd (HYRL) needed to purchase the 1,050 square metres of factory land and yard in order to progress the wider multi-purpose Hungate project.

A last minute deal - for an undisclosed sum - has finally opened the way for the project, which includes homes, offices, shops and a new headquarters for the council.

Negotiations had reached an apparent stalemate, with City of York Council submitting a compulsory purchase order to the Government to prevent the redevelopment being stalled.

The order would have paved the way for the land, at the junction of Carmelite Street and Garden Place, to be forcibly handed over for inclusion in the Hungate project.

If passed, the order would have been the first issued by City of York Council in its 11-year history. It had been written and agreed by the council, and was advertised in The Press.

A spokesman for HYRL said: "We have been in discussions with Mr Sheehan and are pleased to have recently reached a mutually agreeable settlement with him."