A CHESTER firm has found the key to longevity!

John Woods Locksmiths in Watergate Street is believed to be the oldest locksmiths shop in Britain, with invoices dating back to 1595 when its services were called upon to sort out the locks at Chester Castle.

The business is owned by three brothers - Simon, Chris and Richard Griffiths - who are proud of the shop’s long and distinguished heritage.

“We bought the business a couple of years ago,” said Simon, adding: “We are very pleased with the way it is going.”

The brothers have expanded from an existing business, Holdfast Security Systems in Crewe, and are modernising the Chester operation with more computerised and sophisticated technology.

“But we still have the old fashioned locksmiths’ skills,” said Simon.

He said the staff regularly get people out of sticky situations after they find themselves locked out or locked in.

“Only a few weeks ago Tom Benson, who works for us, was on the Paul O’Grady Radio Two show after helping out a damsel in distress.

“We had a link with the past not so long ago when we were asked by an auction house to open a 16th Century Armada (1588) chest which was locked shut. We get called to all kinds of emergencies but much of our work now is more security focused,” he added.