The owners of Chas Hart Jewellers have decided to close down, sell the building and retire after 40 years in Chippenham.

The business, which specialises in secondhand jewellery, has been trading for more than 50 years in total in the town, but has been owned by the same family ever since it was bought by John Knight in 1972.

After his death in 1975 his wife Anne continued to run the business and their children Joanne and Tony joined after they left school.

John’s brother Peter also continued as the shop’s watchmaker for the following 35 years.

After 12 years in the High Street the family moved to their current premises at Market Place in 1984.

They bought what was then Heath’s the stationers, complete with all its stock and spent six months refitting the shop into a jewellers.

Tony Knight, now 52, said his mother and staff members were reaching retirement age and after selling the shop he hoped to spend some time teaching English as a foreign language abroad. His sister Joanne Barkley-Smith also plans to travel the world.

Tony, who met his future wife Christine Howell-Douglas when she started working at the shop, said: “All of our ladies are of a similar age so everything has come to a point where we either start completely again or decide to retire.

“It’s been a wonderful time. The beauty of the jeweller’s trade is you never know what customers will have in their hand or what questions they will ask.

“We have been here so long now we have served two, even three generations of people.

“I remember a young lad who had saved up to buy his parents a clock for their anniversary.

“We also sold him an engagement ring and then their wedding rings.

“The reliability of our customers and their loyalty is really lovely.”

As well as family members the shop has three other members of staff, Heather Hart, Margaret Owens and Ann Merrett.

Mrs Merrett, who is the shop’s longest-serving member, originally started working for John Knight.

Tony Knight said: “We couldn’t have done it without our wonderful, loyal staff.

“They have helped it become the thriving business it still is. They are like family now.”

The shop will be auctioned by Strakers in March and, to sell off all their stock, Chas Hart will hold a closing down sale, offering 20 per cent off everything, starting on Saturday