A director of the Caithness Crystal Visitor Centre has spoken of his sadness at the company’s closure this week with the loss of 15 jobs.

In an exclusive interview with Your Local Paper, Stuart McBarron said staff at the King’s Lynn tourist attraction were like family.

“It was a family business. The staff are like family too, they have been terrific and I have had them come-up and give me a hug,” he said yesterday.

“The majority of them have been there for years,” said Mr McBarron.

He and his brother-in-law Mark Sander took the business over in 2008, but released a statement on Wednesday announcing the closure and job losses.

Mr McBarron said the venue did not recover from a major roadwork scheme around the Hardwick roundabout in 2014 which affected the business. Increased competition has also played a part in the loss of the attraction.

“Customers went elsewhere and we never recovered from it. People’s buying habits  have changed as well and everyone is now buying online,” said Mr McBarron.

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said he was ‘very sad’ to hear the news.

“Caithness has contributed a great deal both to our local economy and to the wider community, through the well-paid jobs they have provided and through its role in our tourism sector,” he said.

Mr Bellingham added that his main priority would be to ensure the job centre provided all possible support, guidance and advice.

West Norfolk Council owns the premises occupied by the visitor centre and deputy council leader Alistair Beales said that the announcement was a great shame for the wider area.

“It was an important local business and very sad for those who have lost their jobs. It has come as a bit of shock to us,” he said.

RSM Restructing Advisory LLP has been appointed to deal with the closure and a closing down sale is due to begin on Thursday and run until Sunday, January 31.

The company was once part of Caithness Crystal, based in Scotland, but was separated in 1989 although the name remained.

King’s Lynn Glassworks was originally created by Ronald Stennett-Wilson in 1967 and the company grew to employ more than 100 people. It was bought by Wedgewood Glass in 1969 and Mr Stennett-Wilson remained until 1979. The company closed in 1988 and re-opened in 1989 as Caithness. Previous owners also included Royal Worcestor.

It once attracted thousands of visitors a year  and was a popular tourist venue.