THE owner of two of Worcester's most famous shops said they were "victims of the high street" after taking the decision to close down after 135 years.

Rick Knowles, who runs Knowles Sports and Knowles Travel Goods in Broad Street, said that declining footfall had made it more and more difficult to keep the business going.

He said: "It is very sad having to make the decision we didn't want to make.

"We are another victim of the high street, the internet has taken its toll.

"Due to lack of footfall we have been finding that the last two or three years have been very difficult and so we had to make this difficult decision.

"We did not want to go bust and so that is why we have decided to close.

"We haven't set an exact date for closing yet but we will be finishing in the new year in either January or February.

READ MORE: Commuters anger after promised extra rail carriages fail to materialise

"I want to thank our many loyal customers we have had and the loyal staff we have had over the years.

"Without the support of customers and staff, we would not have made it this far.

"We are, or were, the longest running sports shop still owned by the original family.

"We have always had people coming in and making lovely comments about how lovely it was to see we were still here, but unfortunately we were not able to continue."

Mr Knowles, 61, said he does not know what he will do after the shop closes down, saying he wants to get that sorted out first.

He said: "I haven't worked out exactly what I am going to do - I am trying to sort this out first.

"I do like the outdoor life so might start doing a bit more cycling, tennis and skiing.

"We will see what happens first, though, but those are certainly my interests.

READ MORE: Shortlist announced for MPs business awards

"It is amazing to think what my great-grandfather would have thought if you had told him in 1884 what the shop would become."

The shop was set up by Mr Knowles' great-grandfather Albert in 1884 as A J Knowles Ltd, a saddle and tennis racket shop.

Albert died from pneumonia at the age of just 39 in 1902 and his wife Mary took over the store.

Their son Arthur took over when he returned from serving in the First World War, working in the shop for the next five decades until he died in 1971 at the age of 78.

From then, his son Robin ran the shop which had by then expanded to two shops, until his tragic death in a climbing accident in 1992 at the age of 60.

After Robin's death, Rick took over the shop having worked as a ski instructor in Switzerland before joining the family business at the age of 20.