BRITAIN’S oldest charity shop in Poole has closed its doors to much sadness. 

Armed Forces charity SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) in Church Road, Ashley Cross, has closed its doors after more than 80 years in service. 

Volunteers retiring and the need for paid staff which cut into the profits are just two factors for the decision and sell of the SSAFA-owned property. 

A SSAFA spokesman confirmed the closure, saying it will be a “time of sadness” to those who have donated or benefited from the shop over the decades.

Bournemouth Echo: SSAFA in Church RoadSSAFA in Church Road (Image: Daily Echo)

He said: “However, it is also a time to reflect on the great work done by countless dedicated volunteers at the shop since at least 1942, as well as the vital support that will continue to be done by SSAFA Dorset.

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“Although the property is SSAFA-owned, other associated costs – including, because of volunteers retiring, a need for paid staff to manage the shop day-to-day, severely cutting into the profits raised by sales – the branch and SSAFA’s central office decided to close the shop and sell the property.” 

Proceeds from the sale of the premises will go to the branch and will continue to fund SSAFA’s life-changing and often life-saving work for serving and veteran Armed Forces personnel, and their families, in Dorset, the spokesman added.

Bournemouth Echo: SSAFA in Church RoadSSAFA in Church Road (Image: Daily Echo)

“Clothes and other donated items were sold off as the shop wound down, and even now, all fixtures and fittings are up for sale to provide additional funds for the branch, while donations of a financial nature can still be made to SSAFA Dorset by visiting” 

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SSAFA was set up in 1885 to look after the troops, ensuring there was support for them.

A lot of clothing depots were set up at the time and during World War Two, with the Poole branch known as the only one remaining in the world from the 300-plus opened in the war. 

The title of the oldest charity shop in the UK has now been passed on to the Oxfam shop in Broad Street, Oxford.