Great sadness has greeted the news that Clarks shoe shop in Helston is to close this Saturday after almost half a century.

A number of factors have come together to result in the closure, including a decline in trade in Helston town centre, staffing matters and the franchisee being unable to secure a lease on the building in Meneage Street.

Clarks, and before that John Farmer, has been in its current position in Helston for five decades – although it is believed the building was run as a shoe shop even before that.

Many adults living in the town and surrounding area will have been bought their first pair of shoes from the shop as babies – and a large number would have been fitted for them by Betsy Barker, who has been at the store for 48 years and manager for the last 35. Although offered a role elsewhere she is likely to retire.

Franchisee John Goodenough, who holds the franchise for Clarks in Cornwall and has other stores in the area, including at Falmouth and Penzance, said a large number of people had visited the store since the news of its closure broke, saying how sad they were.

Mr Goodenough said he and staff would “definitely” like to thank customers for their kind words and support, adding: “Betsy would like to say thanks for all the loyal customers she has had over the years. It’s been fantastic.”

He said of the closure: “It’s a shame. It is a difficult time for all of us.”

The shop has five staff members – a number of them part time – with some now planning to retire, another working out her short term contract and others offered jobs in other stores.

“We’re trying to find people jobs if we have got something and if they wanted to do it,” said Mr Goodenough.