Published: 12:03, 17 February 2014
A butchers which has been running for more than a century has shut its doors for the final time as it makes way for Tesco.
Richardson and Sons Butchers has been part of the Dartford town centre landscape for 106 years.
But for the past 11 of those, Ray Richardson – the third generation to run the shop – has suffered grief and uncertainty, as the supermarket hesitated over the planned development of Lowfield Street, which requires the land on which Mr Richardson’s shop stands.
After years of wrangling, and a compulsory purchase order hanging over his head, Mr Richardson agreed to sell.
This Saturday he served his customers for the last time before shutting up shop.
The 57-year-old said: “I’m a little bit shellshocked. It is a very sad day and very emotional.
“We have been very busy in the last week.
“The highlight of my time here has been the lovely customers. I would like to thank them and the families and people that came here before I started working here.”
Mr Richardson started working in his father and grandfather’s business aged 20.
Since then he has been working seven days a week for years.
But now the married father-of-one is looking forward to early retirement.
Customers said they were “gutted” to see the shop close. Customer of 15 years Kay Harper, of Oakfield Lane, said: “I don’t know where I will go now – I will have to shop around.”
Her husband, Steve, added: “I think it’s disgusting that it has to close for Tesco.”
Pensioner John Wilkinson, from the Fleet Estate, added: “I have been coming here for 30-odd years. I was extremely disappointed when I heard it was closing. I thought it could have been accommodated in this grand plan for Dartford.
“I come here because it is genuine meat and the service is excellent.
“I do not know where I will go now but I will not use Tesco.”
Demolition work is due to start in July.