STAFF have bid a sad farewell to Carlisle's House of Fraser as it closes its doors for the final time.

The closure of the store comes amid a challenging period for Carlisle's high street, and bricks-and-mortar businesses more generally. "I think the day for department stores is over," one staff member said.

The Cumberland News reported at the end of February that the long-established store was closing down, with the announcement of a sale and an end date given of May.

The closing down sale was announced just weeks after the House of Fraser building was sold for £750,000, ending a retail story that dates back locally to 1906.

In Cumbria: The House of Fraser building, CarlisleThe House of Fraser building, Carlisle (Image: Newsquest)

As the store closed for the final time, store manager Tanya Sessford said: "It is a sad occasion. It is an iconic building that has been a big part of the community and so many people who have shopped here will have a story to tell.

"The team that have worked here - past and present - have been amazing and they will all have a story to tell too."

Earlier this month, we reported that the 'fixtures and fittings' from the store - everything from cabinets to mannequins - were going up for auction. That auction closed on Wednesday.

In Cumbria: A room full of mannequins, which were all up for grabsA room full of mannequins, which were all up for grabs (Image: NCM Auctions)

Staff member Annmarie Maxwell has worked in the department store for 40 years. She started there when she was 16, cleaning silverware.

"It is a sad day for us and a sad day for Carlisle," she said. "It is sad to think that this building will be empty.

"I remember when it had AT Mays travel, Top Deck Paints and Dawson & Sanderson and of course I worked with Harry, the elevator man.

In Cumbria: Annmarie Maxwell, a long serving staff member at the House of Fraser in CarlisleAnnmarie Maxwell, a long serving staff member at the House of Fraser in Carlisle (Image: Intro)

"I have made so many friends who have been customers here.

"We had Nick Knowles come in one day and I spoke to Larry Grayson when he came in, and the Krankies and Tammy Wynette. I don't know what they will do with the building now."

The branch of Caffe Nero which also lies within the building was initially set for closure, but the chain has since said they aim to keep it in place, following some renovation work.

Following the store's closure, residents have offered up their ideas of what could fill its space. A theatre, family entertainment venue, national restaurant chains, and a go kart track were among the suggestions.