Image: Martin Wilkinson Nottingham – Nottingham Post
Martin Wilkinson Jewellers Mansfield, said to be the oldest independent jeweler in Great Britain, is closing after nearly 230 years.
The shop opened in 1794 and changed its name after Martin Wilkinson bought the store in the early 1800s. During World War II, it became known for watches for fighter pilots.
Current owner Andrew Campin, whose family has owned the business for the past 90 years, told the BBC that he wanted to retire, and his three children were not interested in taking over the store.
“It’s a combination of things that made me think that now is the right time to go,” Campin said. “Particularly as I have a number eight at the beginning of my age now.”
Mr Campin, who is thus in his 80s, says he had to make the difficult decision to close the shop as there was nobody to succeed him. He said: “All my three children have careers of their own and they were never really interested in taking it on, but I never put any pressure on them to do so.”
“There is a lot of history attached to this place. It’s been here for 228 years now, although thankfully I haven’t been around for all of that time. We were expecting quite a sizeable queue this morning and it’s to be hoped that we maintain a decent-sized queue throughout the day.”
“Will I be upset when it closes?” he asked. “I do think it will hit me harder when it has actually happened.… I love meeting the public, and I’ve made some lovely friends on the way. I hope I’ve been able to put a smile on people’s faces over the years.”
The Nottingham Post reported that locals were lined up around the block for the store’s 50% off closing sale.
“It is quite a big queue that has formed,” said one. “It is obviously going to be sad for the town when it finally closes.”
In 2010, an even older British jeweler, Parsons the Jewellers, founded in 1710, couldn’t find a buyer and was forced to close.
A similarly named jeweler, Martin Wilkinson in Newark, has written on its Facebook page that it is a “separate business” and is not closing.