Sunderland jeweller George Chapman is ringing the changes and hanging up his eyeglass at the grand old age of 77.
George opened his shop in High Street West - opposite the Empire Theatre - in 1976 and tomorrow marks both his last day in business and the end of a working life that has lasted more than 65 years.
“I started my first job when I was ten-years-old and I have been in work ever since,” he said.
“I went to sea when I was 15 and did ten years in the Merchant Navy, then worked at Plessey’s and Cole’s Cranes.
“Opening the shop was just one of those things. I knew somebody in the industry who persuaded me to come in and that was it.
“It has been a long, long run and I have seen a lot of changes, but I have enjoyed it.”
It has been a long time but it has flown over.George Chapman
The retail heart of the city has moved over the years but when George first opened, the area around the Empire was thriving, with butchers, a second-hand record shop, Army and Navy Surplus shop, kitchen designer and even - to wife Teresa’s displeasure - a sex shop next door.
Over the years, he has concentrated on gold and gold and sovereign coins, buying and selling by weight, while a lot of Wearsiders have bought their wedding rings from Chapman’s over the last four decades.
Sunderland born and bred, George lived in Monkwearmouth, Grindon and High Barnes over the years, before he and Teresa bought a farm in Weardale.
He would commute to work while she stayed at home to look after the sheep and hens.
For granddaughter Georgia McGreogor , it was the ideal place to spend time: “I loved helping with the baby lambs and I have many fond memories of Dry Gill Farm,” she said.
When Teresa’s health deteriorated, the couple sold the farm and moved to Brampton in Cumbria, from where George continued to drive to work every day.
He is delighted to be seeing the back of the long commute - “I drove in this morning and it was horrible with all the ice,” he said - but will miss the customers and staff who have been familiar faces.
Staff Maureen, Pam and Dot have been with the business for more than 20 years, while working jeweller Ellie originally hails from Israel.
“It has been a long time but it has flown over,” said George.
“I will miss the staff and the people but I’ll be fine.”