Fleetwood locals bemoan the “end of an era,” as the amusement legacy of the Stefani family announces a cessation in trading.
An amusements arcade in north west England has announced that it has been forced to close – just weeks after the death of its founder Harbour Lights Amusements in Fleetwood was the legacy of amusements veteran Roger Stefani, who passed away last November.
Stefani’s career spanned over four decades, and saw him operate arcades in Black- pool, as well as on Fleetwood’s pier. Stefani would go on to become the regional BACTA chairman, and it was in this period that he also presided over both Harbour Lights and its companion business The Ferry Cafe just off the Fleetwood’s esplanade.
But last week, little more than a month after Roger Stefani’s funeral, his son Lee posted some more sobering news on the arcade’s Face- book page.
“It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that our parent company has collapsed, and as such we now have to close our doors like our sister company The Ferry Cafe,” wrote Stefani. “In relation to this we had to watch, with emptiness in our eyes,as all our machines were emptied and all stock taken off us.This does mean that for our immediate future we will remain closed.”
The scale of loss incurred by the family business at Roger Stefani’s passing was acknowledged in the post – which also paid tribute to the recent efforts of his surviving employees.
“As for our staff we can’t thank them enough as for the past six months – they have battled on against the odds and they remained so loyal to our arcade,” it read. “Life may never be the same again at the arcade with the loss of our boss in November and to close our doors today is a huge blow to our family and to our friends that have supported us through thick and thin.”
But Stefani added that the forward-looking picture for the business was far from certain doom – stating its intention to “let the dust settle, regroup and work out how we go forward and hopefully bring the good times back.”
The Stefani family has established a reputation as hosts of the highest regard within Fleetwood’s tight- knit community: a fact made clearly evident by dozens of locals pledging their support for them on social media in wake of the recent news.
“Like many others, Harbour Lights was our childhood,” said Wayne Bibby Harris. “The eighties were fantastic…anyone who was anybody hung round the arcade.”
“End of an era,” added Leanne Hopwood.“I have so many memories growing up of the arcade and the pier.”
Lee Stefani was clearly touched by the expression of solidarity – posting that he was “absolutely over- whelmed with all the fantastic love and support.”
“It seems there are so many great stories to be told over the years, and many great friends have been made,”he added.
Meanwhile, discussions are evidently proceeding apace as to the future of both affected premises – with Stefani claiming “a lot of interest” in the cafe and “talks ongoing”as to the fate of the arcade.