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Nuxley Toys in Milton Road, Gravesend waves goodbye after 44 years with childhood visitors from Canada

It has provided children with hours of fun for more than four decades but today a much cherished toy shop will shut its doors for good.

Nuxley Toys in Milton Road, Gravesend, holds fond memories for many who have browsed its shelves over the years.

The shop in Milton Road will close today after 44 years trade. Picture: Steve Crispe
The shop in Milton Road will close today after 44 years trade. Picture: Steve Crispe

Selling everything from modern day toys to collectables, party gear, dolls and more, the family-run business has been a fixture in the community for 44 years.

But shortly after 5.30pm today it will serve its last customer with some travelling as far afield as Canada to nab one last purchase.

This follows confirmation of its last trading day from manager Richard Ray who shared the news on Facebook last week having previously announced in August last year the store would be closing.

At the time, the shop did not know how long it would stay open for but said it hoped to continue until the end of the year.

"I've been blown away by all the comments on Facebook," he said, "It put a lump in my throat."

Richard Ray, Manager of Nuxley Toys surrounded by lots of toys. Picture: John Westhrop.
Richard Ray, Manager of Nuxley Toys surrounded by lots of toys. Picture: John Westhrop.

"We've had some wonderful customers over the years. That is why we have survived here for so long.

"There's so many memories because children came here for their own things," he added. "We've had lots of people coming in for a trip down memory lane."

He said the store had always prided itself on its customer service and he would miss running it alongside his parents and owners Jean and Dave, now in their eighties.

Mum Jean, from Swanley, said: "I was tearful when we first announced it but we've enjoyed it and a big part of that is our customers.

"We just want to say a big thank you."

But while it was a sad week for the shop owners, Richard said they had been contacted by dozens of well-wishers.

Jenny Collins moved to Canada 15 years ago but still holds fond memories of her favourite toy shop.
Jenny Collins moved to Canada 15 years ago but still holds fond memories of her favourite toy shop.

One customer had even travelled as far as Canada to visit the store "one last time".

Jenny Collins, 38, emigrated to North America with her husband 15 years ago but still holds fond memories of her favourite toy shop.

"We used to come in every day after school and spend a little bit of our pocket money," she said, "It was always the place to come."

The mum-of-three recalls purchasing a slip and slide and counts a toy crocodile among her all-time favourite purchases.

Walking into the shop she remarks she is still struck with that "old toy" and "cardboard" smell, to which Jean beams a smile and replies "That's Nuxley".

She will return to Canada on Monday but not before taking her kids to see the shop.

The near empty shelves of the toy shop in Milton Road.
The near empty shelves of the toy shop in Milton Road.

Her eldest boys are now 10 and 11 and she wishes to show them a glimpse of what life was like when she was a kid.

The trader is the last of its kind having previously ran shops in Bexleyheath, Welling and Nuxley Road in Belvedere where it takes its name from.

Those stores shut back in 2012 with the owners citing high rents and problems over customer parking access.

Looking back over the years, Jean and Richard are in agreement Star Wars provided some of its most popular products.

On the wall is a poster from 1982 which recalls "The day Darth Vader came to Gravesend".

Richard tells the story of one customer who recently revisited them to say he has never forgotten it.

Richard Ray, Manager of Nuxley Toys with a classic Tonka Truck. Picture: John Westhrop.
Richard Ray, Manager of Nuxley Toys with a classic Tonka Truck. Picture: John Westhrop.

He said: "A young man said he remembers Darth Vader asking him who his favourite character is and him saying Luke Skywalker.

"Next thing you knew he was pretending to throw him out the door. He says he always remembers that."

Jean then points to a spot in the lino where a young boy walked in, took one glimpse of the black caped crusader and wet himself.

"We've had a very good run," she chuckles.

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