'Sadness' as Reigate department store closes

Knights store Image copyright Goggle
Image caption Part of the Knights store is housed in a former coaching inn

One of Surrey's oldest department stores is to shut its doors for the final time.

Knights in Bell Street, Reigate, is closing after 130 years, with its owners blaming an "increasingly competitive market place".

Manager Eric Shields said many customers had expressed disappointment.

"A lot of them have been coming here since they were small children - their mothers brought them in," he said.

"There is a sadness in the town, but also I think there is a realism that nothing stays forever."

'Part of fabric'

Part of the store is housed in a former coaching inn, originally known as The Bricklayers Arms, that was a stop-off on the way from the coast to London.

It later became The Grapes until the pub closed in 1910.

"You can still see the last orders bell and the grapes sign outside," said Mr Shields.

"We are part of the fabric of Reigate, but new challenges lie ahead for us all."

Owner Tudor Williams Holdings said selling the store would enable investment into the site it had not been able to afford.

"The business has been sold to a private, family-controlled company which has a history of investing and upgrading properties in the South East and in creating vibrant environments and employment opportunities," it said.

Knights staff have been offered jobs in the group's stores in Dorking, Cobham, Farnham and New Malden.

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