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What Chester and Ellesmere Port have said goodbye to in 2017

We take a look back at the shops and restaurants we've lost

We've seen some new arrivals in the city during 2017, but unfortunately we've also had to bid farewell to some too.

Some have struggled to compete with similar businesses, others have been the victim of high rates – but we've been sad to say goodbye to all of these.

The Disney Store

Sadly, we weren't taking the Mickey when we reported that the hugely popular Disney Store on Foregate Street was closing its doors after the shop was listed on a retail property website for £280,000.

Since the shop first opened in the early 1990s it had always been immensely in demand with customers, so there was much outcry from Chronicle readers, who claimed that the closure, along with others in the city, was turning Chester into 'a ghost town'.

However, a number of the Disney Store's UK branches have been forced to close in recent times, including those in Dundee and Leicester at around the same time.

Disney left the building for good on September 20 and, just weeks later, novelty toy shop Hawkins Bazaar reopened in its place.

Jim's Haberdashery

Mari Payne and Annie Hall from Jim's Haberdashery on Chester Market who are closing after 60 years

It was one of Chester Market's best known market stalls – having been trading there for 60 years.

So it was extremely sad to say goodbye to family-run Jim's Haberdashery, the go-to place for buttons and sewing supplies for the people of Chester.

Owner Annie Hall's parents had started the stall in the old market site more than half a century ago and Annie worked there as a Saturday girl before leaving school to work there full time with her 88-year-old mum Mari Payne.

Speaking to the Chronicle before the stall closed for good in September, Annie said: "It will be strange. I’ve seen kids grow up over the years, parents would come with their kids and now the kids have grandchildren. It’s been a joy to serve the people of Chester.”

Gin Rickey's and Luke's Eating House

Gin Rickey's has closed its doors

Popular restaurant and bar Gin Rickey's and Luke's Eating House shocked its customers by suddenly closing after two years back in April.

Run by young chef Luke Thomas, it had been a popular nightspot with revellers, especially due to its specialist gin bar, but there was much excitement that the premises would be turned into trendy cocktail bar The Alchemist, which officially opened in July.

Half of Toycraft

Toycraft on Watergate Street

Toycraft, on Watergate Street, has been trading in the city centre for more than 50 years but in August this year owner Beverley Lucas said she was forced to reduce the shop's two neighbouring units to just one in order to secure any kind of future for her business.

Beverley said: “It’s probably been coming for the past three years, there has been a noticeable drop off in custom and Christmas was very poor. In fact, we noticed a huge drop-off at Christmas and in our business, if you don’t have a good Christmas you have to make some changes.

“By March it still wasn’t picking up and that’s when I knew we really had to do something.”

With crippling business rates of £27,000 a year and rent in excess of £30,000, the business couldn’t sustain itself and Beverley was forced to close 33 Watergate Street and confine all her stock into number 35.

Argos

There are plans to convert Argos in Foregate Street into a 55-bed hotel.

Chester's city centre branch of Argos was a mainstay on Foregate Street for more than 25 years so it was a big shock when it was announced the store was to close – in order to relocate into a supermarket.

Argos closed its doors for the last time earlier this month and has reopened as a much smaller outlet in Sainsbury's in Caldy Valley Road, after the supermarket bought Argos in a £1.4bn takeover last year.

A planning application for the premises has been submitted by BNY Mellon Trust & Depositary (UK) Ltd for change-of-use consent from retail to a 55-bed hotel with cafe/breakfast room on the ground floor fronting Foregate Street.

Mountford's Newsagents

Mountford's Newsagents on Northgate Street in Chester.

Mountford's was one of the oldest businesses in the city, having been there for more than 230 years, so it was with some sadness we learned they were closing down.

Owner Hilary Wright said newsagents have become 'a dying trade' and she said she believed this was down to factors including the opening of competing businesses like Tesco Express in Delamere Street and the relocation of the new bus station, amongst other things.

Crazy Town Ellesmere Port

Crazy Town Ellesmere Port children's play centre on Coronation Road

Much loved kids play centre Crazy Town dismayed residents when it closed its doors for good back in March after managers decided not to renew the lease on the council-owned building.

The centre boasted a 1,000 square foot party room alongside the main play facility, which was open for seven days a week.

One upset mum wrote on social media: "Oh no! So sad, Crazy Town has been perfect for my little boy - so much more for toddlers to do.

What a shame.”

Skinnys

Unfortunately we said hello and goodbye to Skinnys in just seven months.

Health fans were ecstatic when the clean eating cafe opened on Lower Bridge Street back in April. Specialising in 'healthy' take away food, it proved a hugely popular venue so everyone was shocked in November when they posted on Facebook that they had closed.

They said: "Hello everyone, it’s been a very sad week – bad time of the year and very expensive bills meant we had to close our Chester store temporarily, we do plan on coming back in a less prime/expensive location."

Thomas Telford pub

The Thomas Telford pub on Ellesmere Port's historic high street which has been closed by Wetherspoons

The popular drinking venue in Ellesmere Port was one of 45 pubs being disposed of nationally by Wetherspoon for 'commercial' reasons.

The pub had been described as 'having a slightly more classy feel than a typical 'Spoons venue' - thanks largely to thoughtfully fitted lighting and modern decorative features.

Wetherspoon spokesman Eddie Gershon said at the time: “We appreciate that our loyal customers will be disappointed with the decision. The pubs will remain trading as Wetherspoon pubs as normal until or if the pubs are sold.”

The premises was acquired from Wetherspoon by Blackpool-based Amber Taverns and opened last month as The William Jessop.

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