Sole trader bows out of shoe industry

A LIFELONG shoe repairman from Ipswich is bowing out of the industry after 47 years.


A LIFELONG shoe repairman from Ipswich is bowing out of the industry after 47 years.

C J Hawes has been the heart and sole of Wherstead Road for nearly half a century but the shop's owner is hanging up his boots at the end of the week and taking a well deserved retirement.

Colin Hawes entered the trade as a 15-year-old, taking over the business at the tender age of 20 after ill health forced the previous owner to leave.

Mr Hawes, of Brunswick Road, has always applied the time-honoured techniques he was taught when he started out.

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As well as selling new footwear, the 67-year-old still uses traditional finishing and stitching machines for shoe and boot repair and conventional sewing machines for other repair jobs.

And, as Mr Hawes explained, it's not just regular shoes he's accustomed to fixing.

He said: “I've met people from all walks of life and my customers have become my friends.

“I used to do build ups for people who had hip replacements and had lost a couple of inches in one leg.”

Mr Hawes also supplied 40 pairs of boots to army enthusiasts, Khaki Chums, who dedicate time to discovering the realities of being voluntary soldiers between 1899 and 1960.

He admitted he was unable to sell the business on because there is nobody trained in the same skills.

Several regular customers have asked Mr Hawes to reconsider his retirement but the tradesman is unwavering and plans to enjoy his free time on holiday with wife, Doreen, and tending his two allotment plots.

He said: “Anyone with a wife will know that they can find plenty for you to do.”

Mr Hawes started out in the shoe repair trade in 1956, achieving a City & Guilds qualification.

He found work for a job for shoe repair service in the Cattle Market aged just 15.

Five years later he was given the opportunity to start C J Hawes.

This is the last of 2444 weeks Mr Hawes has spent in charge of the business in Wherstead Road.