ONE of the Forest’s oldest shops is set to shut after serving customers for more than 150 years.

Traditional Coleford tobacconist, confectioner and men’s barber Bolter’s will close its doors for the final time next week after the ‘sad decision’ was taken to cease trading.

Founded in 1866 when Queen Victoria was in the middle of her 64-year reign, the town centre business beside the Clock Tower has been run by three generations of the Bolter family, and still has a traditional shop frontage echoing times past.

But with ill health forcing owner Patrick Bolter, 79, to move into a care home, the business will disappear from the high street it has graced for a century and a half.

Originally situated on the other side of Market Place where Lloyds Bank is now based, it moved around a century ago to its current site.

And Sandra Scotford, who has worked alongside Mr Bolter for 38 years, said: “It’s very sad, but it’s time to close.

“I’ve cried my heart out these last few weeks, but Patrick lost his second leg last year and we need to pay for his care, so we’ve had to take the decision to close up and sell the building.

“I’ve spent all of my adult life working here, and it’s been such a part of the town’s history… it has so many memories.”

Founded by Patrick’s granddad Thomas Bol­ter senior 151 years ago as a tobacconist and barbers, it later moved across the square after the old building was sold for £1,000 and the new one bought for half the price.

His son, Patrick’s father Thomas Bolter junior, then ran the store with his wife.

“They had Pat quite late in life, and he was helping out in the store as soon as he could walk,” said Mrs Scotford.

“And Pat kept that old world charm right the way through, by only serving sweets out of traditional jars, and forget grams, it was ounces measured up on old scales, and penny chews.

“He sold real hand-rolled tobacco, and insisted on smoking a pipe in the shop, even when they changed the rules.

“A policeman came in and said ‘you can’t do that anymore, Pat’ but he told him to read up on his law, tobacconists were exempt. “I’m going to keep on smoking my pipe,” he said.

“And Pat was still cutting hair until two years ago, with four regular customers in their 80s refusing to let anyone else do it.

“That was despite losing his first leg 12 years ago, as a blacksmith customer built him a frame to lean on so he could keep barbering.”

Mrs Scotford added: “He never fell out with anyone, he was a perfect gentleman.

“And there was nothing he didn’t know about Coleford, and he had an opinion on everything to share with customers.

“If the flag came down on the Clock Tower, he was straight on the phone to the council,” she said.

“And for me personally, Patrick was a like a granddad to my two children Jade and, taking them off to steam and bus shows. A part of old Coleford will go when we sell up. It’s so sad.”