The Well runs dry as Christian cafe and shop closes

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A CHRISTIAN cafe and bookshop has closed its doors for the last time after becoming a victim of changing trends.

The Well, in West Street in Fareham, has been a familiar presence in the town centre for the past decade, but shut down after a day-long farewell party.

Former and current volunteers mingled with customers as people poured in to say goodbye to the cafe.

But with more people buying books online and the growth of cafe culture, The Well has seen its business decline in recent years.

Paul Docherty, chairman of the trustees, said: 'Times have moved on. When The Well started the internet wasn't so big and this was the only cafe at this end of the town.

'It was also one of the only places to sell Fairtrade goods, but now you can even get those in Tesco and Asda.

'I took over as chairman two years ago and sadly I have had to oversee the process where the trustees have had to take some difficult business decisions as to the future viability of the enterprise.'

The original idea for The Well came out of a Lent study course in 1997 including members of several Fareham churches.

Rachel Hicks was one of the group that then helped set up the project. She said: 'We felt we wanted a Christian presence in the town centre. All the churches in Fareham started working together and it grew from there.

'Unfortunately all the things that made The Well what it was have been undermined, but I do also feel that things have a time to run, and The Well has had its time.

'The journeying together, the working together - that's something to celebrate.'

Laura Craft has volunteered there since she was 16. The 21-year-old from Furzehall Avenue, Fareham, said: 'My family have been quite involved since the start so I am sad to see it go.

'It's sad because there's a lovely atmosphere here.

'Its a tranquil haven amongst the madness.'

And long-term regular Terry Thorne, 83, will miss his weekly visits.

Mr Thorne, from Catisfield, said: 'I've been coming here since it opened and now I'm here to see it close. I'm here at least once a week so I am sad to see it close because it's somewhere unique to Fareham.'

But although the shop closed on Friday, The Well will continue as a charity in an as yet undecided format.

Mr Docherty said: 'The original vision of the charity remains. We are very hopeful that we will be able to rent the units out and we will have the income from that which will allow the charity to do something else.

'We will involve the Fareham churches as to what is the best way to be of service to the community of Fareham.'