Sunday, 4 January 2015

Cobblers to The Felling

I came across this great pic of an old fashioned shoe maker or cobbler and it got me thinking. As an amateur local historian I've waded through many Trade Directories and I was aware that those involved in footwear were invariably Boot people...the word 'shoe' was barely used. So I took a closer look and found that in the mid to late 1800's the Trade Directories listed 'boot makers' but by the turn of the century they listed 'boot repairers'. Google helped me find the answer. There was no boot/shoe manufacturing industry until about the 1850/80's. Before then local blokes in local towns made the footwear.
Here's our local blokes, shown as boot makers, in The Felling per Ward's 1879
John Ancrum, Windy Nook Lane
John Armstrong, 15 High Street
John Graham, 22 High Street
William Edward Burke, 19 High Street
Mark Sharp, Wesley Tce
John Thompson, Tyne Street
William James Murdoch of Wesley Tce was listed as a boot dealer

....expect puns, this article is a bit tongue in cheek
The Felling King of the Cobblers was undoubtedly George William Moses who mended souls from 1903, starting for the first couple of years at 4 Morley Tce before moving to 5 Victoria Square in 1905. 

Here is that very shop being demolished 60 years later..note his son, along the way, joined him. Just as well. George must have been pushing 80 by this time. After awl, 60 years is a long time and there’s only so long a cobbler can last!
There were of course other fellows who fixed the Felling's footwear, which initially was boots, then later, shoes. Here's those of 1939 :-
Thomas MacKay at Bill Quay (
Cromwell Road),
Fenwick Watson was at 27 Wesley Street (more below)
Joseph Simpson at 2 Davidson Street,
Robert Goldsworth at 8 Carlisle Street and
William Donaldson's address in Pelaw was odd... 
5½ Joicey Street.
 No cobbling was happening in Windy Nook

Here's GWM when he was a young man. His shop was in an iconic place so it was photographed often

That's his shop that looks church/chapel like, with the steeple above the arched window. Note, Pant

Here, the Square has been revamped...bye bye Pant, never to be seen again 

William Pine worked for G. W. Moses and eventually opened his own shoe repair shop

Thanks to his son, Peter, we have lots more on Fenwick Watson. This is he
Most cobblers of that time "didn't serve an apprenticeship, whereas my father did and was classed as a master boot and shoe repairer. He started his career before the war at Wesley Terrace. He was called up and served in WW 2 in the Royal Engineers, mostly in Gibraltar. I was nearly 3 when he returned to our home in Thomas Street, Felling. He started back at his business in Wesley Terrace until it was pulled down in the 1950’s. He then moved to an empty house not far away. (The steps that lead from Sunderland Road, opposite Felling Station, were built for people to access the shop, as previously it was steep cobbles). After that he seemed to follow the Post Office and moved to the bottom of the High Street, just up from the Brandling pub. This previously had been an undertakers. He then moved further up the High Street where he eventually retired in his early 70’s. This was just below Boots the chemist, where there was a telephone box which is still there. I remember visiting Wesley Terrace and helping in his other 3 shops. It was a very dusty job and my father ended up with chest problems after he retired. There was another repairer opposite whose son worked with him on the opposite side of the High Street, but don’t remember his name. When he finished he worked for my father for a few years. Moses was a well established business for many years in the Felling who also sold new shoes. My uncle who also served an apprenticeship, also worked with my father at Wesley Terrace, and finished at St Mary’s Hospital, Stannington. It used to be Gateshead’s mental asylum. He died last year aged 98. Billy Pine I think might have worked for Moses, until they finished." 
Here's more Felling Cobblers

Ken Cooper

W. Nichol was in the BOOT era

A. E. Jones,
Boot & Shoe Repairer
91 High Street, Felling

Finally, there are too few people in this World who are familiar with an aglet so follow the link to enlightenment

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