Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford shop Goldings to close after 152 years

Goldings of Bedford store front.
Image caption Goldings has been struggling to cope with changes in shopping habits

A 152-year-old family-run hardware shop is to close as town centre footfall has become "pretty much non-existent".

Goldings in Bedford High Street opened in 1867 but its owners said competition from the internet and multinational firms made it impossible to continue.

Announcing the news on Facebook, they said they were "devastated and sad".

Kate Temple, who has run the store with her husband for four years, said: "You can walk down the street on a Saturday afternoon without bumping into anyone."

She added: "People are changing their shopping habits, going online and to out-of-town retail parks.

"We haven't taken the decision lightly. We're gutted. Unless a miracle happens, we'll look to close perhaps at the end of next month."

Image copyright Goldings
Image caption The shop, pictured here in 1941, has survived two world wars

Queen Victoria was only halfway through her 63-year reign when Goldings opened.

A post on the shop's Facebook page said: "We've been struggling for a while now and the footfall on the High Street is now pretty much non-existent."

The post attracted more than 50 comments within two hours from people disappointed at the news.

One said: "I have fond memories of Goldings from my childhood in the 50s. Another nail in Bedford's coffin."

Bedford, which has a population of 170,000, has seen Marks & Spencer close in May, with Topshop set to follow.

Seventy-four independent traders in the town recently announced they were joining forces to fight back against closures.

Bedford's business improvement district said 57% of firms there were independent, compared with 35.9% elsewhere in the UK, making it a "vibrant destination" for shopping.

Image caption Kate Temple said she and her husband were "gutted" to be closing

Henry Vann, portfolio holder for town centres and planning at Bedford Borough Council, said: "I have known Goldings my whole life; growing up in Bedford I remember rushing to the back of the shop as a small child to look at the models -this is really sad news.

"The council continues to work with Bedford Business Improvement District, Explore Bedford and other community partners and businesses to look for new, innovative ways to support our town centre and the array of fantastic independent and other shops we have."

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