Guernsey Press

Silversmith shuts up for last time with heavy heart

Silversmith Martyn Guille closed his shop for the last time last night with a heavy heart.

Martyn Guille closed his shop next the Little Chapel for the final time this weekend. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32732706)

But the dispute with his landlord – the Blanchelande Trust – is not quite over.

It was revealed last week that Mr Guille was ending his long-standing tenancy of the building next to the Little Chapel due to an unexpectedly large rent increase.

Mr Guille said he had been blown away by the support from the public since the article was published in the Guernsey Press.

‘Everyone has been so supportive,’ he said.

‘The weekend has been fantastic, with people supporting me verbally, and also buying.’

His staff will now be doing a stock-take and packing up the goods over the next week. The lease ends on 30 November.

The trust has said the rent increase – which neither side had confirmed – was reasonable.

Mr Guille said the trust had also been expecting him to maintain the building, which has been damaged in recent bad weather.

Another bone of contention has been the shop’s new toilets, which Mr Guille said he had invested £100,000 in. The trust has refused to reimburse him for the toilets, so Mr Guille plans to remove them before the lease ends.

‘I have had a lot of people offering to take the toilets out,’ he said.

‘It will be the last job before I leave. I just hope the trust see sense.’

Mr Guille said it was hard to leave, just as the business was falling into place. The toilets had worked as hoped, keeping the shop floor clear of people queueing for the loo. And a new cafe was nearly ready to open.

But in some ways closing has been a relief.

Even before the latest spat with the trust, Mr Guille had been in a costly legal dispute with the Little Chapel Foundation, which last year tried to stop him selling Little Chapel goods. That was resolved, but it took its toll.

‘I’m so exhausted – both mentally and physically,’ he said.

‘I’ve not slept properly for months – since March when I got the new lease terms. I will be glad of the rest.’

Mr Guille said it would be strange not working this Christmas, having worked in the run-up to the festive period all his adult life, and it would normally have been a lucrative part of the business.

But while he is disappearing for while, it is not for good.

Mr Guille, who is 60, is looking at options for opening up somewhere new early next year, and he is also looking for somewhere temporary, so he can keep engraving the Eisteddfod trophies, something he has done for the last seven years.

He said he did not want to give up working.

‘I’ve been a silversmith since I left school and I love it,’ he said.

‘I enjoy the work, I love meeting people.’

He hoped to keep working with shop manager Julie Le Page and jeweller Rob Laine on his next venture.