A VILLAGE hardware store that has served the community for more than half a century is to close later this month.

Stewards Hardware, in Mill Green, Warboys, has been trading for 51 years. It was opened by Victor Steward, who is now 91, in the early sixties and was taken on by his son Peter when he retired at the age of 65.

Now, Peter has decided to retire and despite trying to sell the business as a going concern has sold the premises to convenience store chain Spar.

He told The Hunts Post: "It's a sad occasion. My father started the business in 1959. This was just a cottage but he built the shop and extended it twice to meet the needs of the village.

"People are very upset and disappointed that we are going. I'm 65 next month and we tried to sell it as a going concern for over two years but had no takers. I'm very sad to see it running down and the shelves being emptied but I need to have some time to spend with my wife and family. It's been quite a tie all these years."

He added: "Maybe if our profit margins had been better it might have been more attractive for someone to carry on."

Mr Steward, a father of two and grandfather of three, said the business was affected by national chains such Focus and Homebase opening in Huntingdon. Over the years, the business evolved from serving farmers and their labourers to supplying home wares and DIY hardware but the advent of the internet took its toll.

He said: "You've got the big sheds in Huntingdon, mail order and websites like eBay and they do affect our business, they're bound to."

Mr Steward said his father still runs a small engraving business, despite being 92 next month.

He said: "He is going to miss the shop when it closes, as I will. It will be a big void in my life once it's gone.

"I would like to say thank you to all my staff who have stayed with me until the end and I am sorry that I will need to make them redundant. I would also like to thank all the customers that have supported us over the years and have passed on many good comments about our service. We are ending on a high."