Saturday marked the emotional closure of Helston’s Clarks shoe shop after almost half a century.

Staff have received overwhelming support from the community and enjoyed a busy final week’s trading, after seeing a similarly successful ‘back to school’ period.

It marked the final day of work for manager Betsy Baker and staff member Diane Williams, pictured, who have been with the shop for a combined total of 72 years and are now both retiring.

Betsy, who has been at the store for 48 years and manager for the last 35, said: “It’s been really wonderful – very emotional, but very, very nice. People have been coming in wishing us well; saying they can’t believe it.”

Diane, who has worked there for 24 years, agreed: “It’s nice that people have taken the time to come and share their thoughts and feelings. It’s the end of an era for all of us and a sad day for the town.”

Both agreed that there had been some laughs along the way, with Betsy saying she would miss seeing the children – who often recognise her in supermarkets and on the street – and also the Flora Day dancers process through the shop during the midday dance, as has become tradition.

Franchisee John Goodenough, who holds the franchise for Clarks in Cornwall and has other stores in the area, said a number of factors had 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.

Customers are being advised to travel to sister stores in Falmouth, Penzance and Truro.