Residents in Beaconsfield have shared their 'sadness' and memories of a popular fish and chip shop following its closure after 24 years.

Simon Prior, 56, and Leslie Birkenhead, 81, founded Smiles Fish and Chips on The Broadway in Beaconsfield 24 years ago and, with a near-quarter of a century under their belt, the two friends made the “difficult” decision to close the original branch in their now-three shop chain on Saturday, March 23.

Despite tough economic conditions taking their toll on all small business owners, Simon said the closure was primarily to allow Leslie to retire and “focus on travelling and being with his family” – making it a bittersweet goodbye that the pair were “wonderfully” able to take at their leisure.

Although the chain’s other branches in Bourne End and Cookham, which are at no risk of shutting their doors any time soon, lie only short distances away, Simon acknowledged it would be “sad to lose (the shop's) presence in the town” – a sentiment Beaconsfield residents agreed on all too readily.

Reacting to the closure news on the weekend, Claire Knowles said: “I worked with Simon and Les 20 years ago and had a great time working with them. So sad. It’s the end of an era.”

Nikki Hopkinson added: “Best fish and chip shop in the area! Very sad to see them go”, and Helen Dwight praised the “great” shop that had delivered “lovely food” from just down the road for so many years.

READ MORE: Major buses shake-up as services axed and new routes created

Ollie May joined Claire in reminiscing about his time at Smiles, writing: “My first job was with Simon and Les when they first opened. They have given so much to local communities over the years. They both had an amazing work ethic.”

Mohammed Mahboob also paid tribute to the “lovely” owners, adding: “All the best, as you served us well”, and Julie Rockell said: “Oh no, we love their fish and chips. Generous portions too!”

Meanwhile, James Cordner pointed to another recent closure on The Broadway, that of Jungs Café which shut its doors in January after more than 80 years – leaving “a lot of empty shops on Beaconsfield High Street”.

Although there is no news yet of what will replace Smiles Fish and Chips in Beaconsfield, Simon is hopeful that “some great new shop”, maybe another independent enterprise dreamed up by good friends, will scoop the unit and take its place.

What kind of business would you like to see on the Beaconsfield High Street?