End of an era as Fratton Road DIY store shuts for good after 50 years

CLOSING Robert Bish who is retiring from and closing the DIY shop in Fratton which was started by his father Robert Bish in the early 1960s.  Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120660-2)
CLOSING Robert Bish who is retiring from and closing the DIY shop in Fratton which was started by his father Robert Bish in the early 1960s. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (120660-2)

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A FAMILY-run hardware store which has traded for 51 years is set to close its doors for the last time.

Brothers Robert and Roger Bish who run Robert Bish DIY, on Fratton Road, Fratton, are both retiring.

Their father, also called Robert Bish, started up the business in 1961 and eight years later he was joined by his son Robert.

Together they built up a band of loyal customers and earned a well respected reputation with traders and other suppliers, which still exists today.

Robert, 68, of Langstone Road, Milton, said: ‘People didn’t know what DIY was back then so it was a struggle at first.

‘But we gradually built up a reputation to the point where we became an important part of the commercial side of Portsmouth.’

In 1980 the elder Robert retired at the age of 61, with his sons quickly becoming an established part of the community.

Roger, 61, of Thornby Court, Anchorage Park, said: ‘It’s not often that a shop lasts more than 50 years in this day and age. We’ve always offered great customer service and advice and I think that’s how we’ve done it.

‘We have years of experience and can advise customers how to use our products, and that’s what they always say they like about coming here.

‘And we offer great quality tools and parts, which brings a lot of tradespeople in.’

However, the brothers are both into their 60s now and feel the time is right for them to retire.

But with no-one in the family in a position to take over the business, they have been forced to shut down and sell the building.

‘I’ve enjoyed serving the public, it’s been fascinating and fulfilling,’ Robert said.

‘I will miss the discussions we have with our customers and after a while I will start to wonder how they are getting on.

‘But the time has come for us to retire and I’m looking forward to it now that we’ve made the decision to do it.’

Everything left in the store is being sold at discounted prices, and from mid-March prices will be slashed in half before the brothers close the doors for good on March 31.

Robert added: ‘It will be very strange to shut the doors for the last time.

‘I’ll miss a lot about the place, especially the banter we get with the customers, it’s a great laugh.

‘But I’ll still have a lot to do and can’t wait to get more involved with my hobbies.’