We reported on the imminent closure of a toy shop in Barkingside ten years ago this week.

The borough’s only independent toy shop is closing down.

Gary Diamond, 57, owner of Toyology in High Street, Barkingside, said the opening of Westfield shopping centre in Stratford has hit business.

The shop, which has been selling the latest toys and gadgets since 2010, will shut on March 23.

Mr Diamond said: “This is a very upsetting time for us. It was a hard decision to make.

“It all changed for us when Westfield opened. We noticed a further drop in business with the Olympics, when Westfield really came into its own.

“Our regular customers, who went to the Olympics, visited Westfield and never came back to us.

“In a place like Barkingside we can’t just rely on people walking past the shop.

“As for Christmas, Barkingside High Street was so dark and gloomy, meaning people went to Westfield to see the lights, get the atmosphere and do their shopping.

“We just never recovered from that – trade in November was flat, it picked up in December, but you can’t rely on one month to make up for the rest of the year.

“My staff have been so fantastic. We wouldn’t have got as far as we have today if it wasn’t for them being so passionate about what they do.”

Over the next year, Barkingside will under-go a £2.1million regeneration project.

But, Mr Diamond feels more needs to be done to help independent traders remain on the high street.

He said: “I’m not sure how much the regeneration will help.

“More needs to be down to entice big name retailers such as Marks and Spencer or Waitrose to encourage people back.

“There needs to be a reason for people to get up in the morning and want to come shopping on the high street. It needs more than a lick of paint.”

Mr Diamond, who has been in the toy industry for the last 25 years, opened the shop with his best friend Mark Roberts less than three years ago.

He is determined he will continue in the toy industry in some form or another, but will leave retail for good.