W.C BAKER & SON TO CLOSE AFTER 112 YEARS
With covid restrictions finally being lifted, planters in the High Street removed and life slowly creeping towards some kind of normality, the news that the ever popular Bakers store was to close, came as a huge shock to many.
W.C. Baker & Son, known as “Bakers” to local residents, was the jewel in the heart of Fleet, especially when it came to good old fashioned, friendly customer service. There can’t be many of us that haven’t popped into the shop over the years with a half hearted explanation of what we wanted, leaving with the perfect item (that frankly we never knew existed until then) and full instructions on how to use it. Bakers has often been compared affectionately to the famous “Four Candles/Fork Handles” sketch in The Two Ronnies and it’s a pretty good analogy, with a timeless appeal and mysterious boxes of stock that seem to contain everything you’d ever want, it was a welcome delve into nostalgia every time you visited.
There was no warning of the closure notice served by the popular ironmongers and so after 112 years service in Fleet, it came as a shock to many local residents and it’s fair to say, a few tears were shed. The store plans to close its doors for the last time on 30th September…a day that will herald the end of an era for Fleet.
Below: The announcement from Bakers on August 1st 2021.
Bakers is for many a reminder of times gone by, where old fashioned good manners and genuine customer service were normal practice and businesses were passed down from generation to generation. From its traditional windows sporting original glass features, to a fully packed window display and the familiar key above the door, it was the oldest and most familiar business in Fleet. For more about the history of Bakers, take a look here, Historical Records of Fleet – W.C. Baker and Son.
Below: W.C Baker and Son, Fleet Road.
Lisa Rust, President of the local Fleet Lions group presented the Baker family with a certificate of appreciation to thank them for their service over the years and show how much the people of Fleet will miss them:
Below: Fleet Lions present Bakers with a certificate of appreciation.
There have been many business closures in Fleet over the years, some missed more than others but it is safe to say that this will, without a doubt, be the greatest loss to the High Street. As Fleet traders fight against the tide of covid, rising costs and changing shopping trends, the sight of coffee shops, nail bars and tiny overpriced flats seems a poor replacement for what was once a local day out.
It isn’t yet known who will be taking over the building, or if indeed it will even survive with Hart District Council’s harsh development plans for the area but we can only hope it will be treated with the reverence it deserves and that 234 Fleet Road isn’t lost to the mists of time like so many other older buildings before it.
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