A SOUTHAMPTON bakery is turning on its ovens for the last time today after nearly half a century.

The owner of Cotton Bakery in Bitterne Park has announced his intention to retire due to a health condition and the current cost of living crisis.

The independent shop, well-known for its Wellbeing bread and meal deals, will be greatly missed by the community.

Graham Cotton, 78, said he did not want to close the shop but due to sudden health problems he's been left with little choice.

“I’ve been pushing my limit for too long and in today's climate it was what I had to do,” he said. 

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Residents of Bitterne Park Triangle have been queuing around the shop following the announcement.

Neighbour and fellow shop owner, Jackie Lily-Mcbride, says the area will be “lost” without Cottons.   

“Everyone knows Mr Cotton and with places like this disappearing - the Triangle's only bakery - it's gutting,” she said. 

The bakery's loaves are also a firm favourite of MP Royston Smith who said Graham was “as much a part of Bitterne Park Triangle as the clock tower”.

The MP for Southampton Itchen said: “I have known Graham Cotton for most of my life. My mother worked in his shop for a time and my father did some deliveries as a retirement job.  

“His bakery and his bread will be missed but not nearly as much as Graham. He is simply Mr Bitterne Park.” 

Graham said the Triangle has always had a sense of community. 

Bakery worker, Jonna Komandowska, 49, has worked there for over ten years.

She said she was “heartbroken” when she was told it was closing. 

"I like working here," she said. "I like our boss and I like having conversations and joking with the customers.

"We are one of the only real bakeries here and it is very sad that we are shutting down."

Now he's retired, Graham will be volunteering at Bursledon Windmill. 

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