An iconic independent bakery which has served Boxmoor for 128 years is to close its doors for the last time due to a lack of customer support.
Mansbridge Bakers has been struggling to compete with the growing number of grocery chain superstores and fast food outlets in Hemel Hempstead.
But despite last-ditch attempts to draw in custom with tables and chairs and a hot drinks machine, fourth generation baker Steven Mansbridge has finally called time on the historic Cowper Road shop.
Steven said: “There is not really enough support from the local community – if the people aren’t going to come in and spend their money, at the end of the day we can’t keep running the shop.
“When you consider how many supermarkets there are within 10 miles of our shop, as well as superstores and fast food restaurants, you can see how it impacts on us.
“Even the McDonald’s drive-throughs have had an impact.
“It is a very sad thing. It has taken me a long, long time to make the decision to close.”
As well as the end-terrace shop, Mansbridge Bakers was also well-recognised for its horse-drawn cart, driven by Steven’s father Reginald, to deliver baked goods around the town.
Although none of Steven’s children is interested in coming into the business – which has been run by the family since 1885 – the Mansbridge name will live on as the master baker continues to make wholesale bread.
It is hoped production will be moved to Redbournbury Mill in Redbourn, where Steven also works, after the shop’s closure on Saturday, November 23.
Steven said: “This is just a sign of the times – there aren’t many of us independent bakers around any more.
“But I am optimistic about the continuation of the name, it just won’t be as a shop.
“I dare say there will be many people who will be sad to see us go but unfortunately they are not the ones buying from us.
“If people aren’t prepared to support us, what else can we do?”