13. Work

Working in his Father’s Shoe Workshop

At the start of this period, grandad was working as a paid employee in his father’s workshop. By the end of it, he was running the workshop and sales shop as owner. By then, he and his family were also  living behind the shop.

Based in the Workshop

At the start of this period, grandad was still based in the workshop with Cyril in the shop. As a rule, grandad appears to have worked six days per week with half days on Wednesday and Saturday.

Helping Out in the Shop

When needed, grandad assisted in the shop, for example, ahead of Christmas and to allow Cyril a holiday in the summer.

Improvements Over the Years

Grandad was very “handy” so was often called on to make or mend something in the business. Over the years, major improvements occurred. Electricity was installed in the workshop in September 1927. Major alterations were carried out to the sales shop between May and July 1929, including installing electric light.

Further adaptations were made in April 1933. This included knocking doorways from the workshop to the sales shop and upstairs. A contractor, Frank Newcombe, put up a flight of stairs at the shop at a cost of £2 12s 6d. I am not sure why grandad, and then mum, kept this receipt but they did and it is copied here! From this point onwards, it appears that grandad was living at the shop.

Receipt from Frank Newcombe for fitting stairs in the Station Street shop in 1933


Over the years, the business had a number of employees although these are not recorded particularly systematically in the diaries. Employees mentioned included Albert Robinson, Syd Franklin, Linda Collier and Dorothy Harker.

Family members also helped out. For example, Ray, grandma’s brother, whitewashed the shop ceiling in September 1935.

The Brothers Take Over the Business

Gradually, the sons took over the business from grandad’s father. In August 1919, Cyril and grandad decided to take the shop on a lease. Initially, I assumed this was a lease from their father but later diaries indicate that the Station Street premises were rented from the Greens. I am not sure if this covered the shop, the workshop and the living accommodation or just the retail shop.

It appears that their father was still active in the business beyond this point. According to a note in the Free Press, at the time of his death, grandad’s father retired from the business in 1920. This appears to be confirmed by grandad’s diary as, in March 1920, the three sons, Len, Cyril and grandad “began with the business on our own”. As part of this, grandad conducted a stocktake in the workshop and in the sales shop. In the next couple of months, the three of them carried out repairs and improvements in the business. This arrangement appears to have continued for some years after that

Cyril Leaves to Set Up a Shop in Ruddington

In April 1933, there was a family discussion about the business. I am not sure who was involved but it definitely involved grandad and may have included his brother, Cyril, and his wife, Minnie. The day after the discussion, grandad noted that Minnie had bought a business in Ruddington and, a few days later Cyril “left the business”. I don’t know what was behind the parting or if it was amicable but grandad and his family continued to have contact with Cyril and his family afterwards. Also, much later, when grandad was ill, Cyril came to help out in the shop. So, it appears that whatever parting there was it was reasonably amicable.

Picture postcards of Ruddington where Cyril and Minnie established a business in 1933

A Changing Business

In addition to physical alterations to the shop described above, grandad made some changes to the way the business worked. In 1933, after Cyril had left, he held a sale and started selling leather and nails

Grandad’s shop approximately 1939. I am not sure what the event is. Carnival perhaps? In the first photo, the young girl looks like mum aged around 5 and the second photo appears to show grandad in one window and possibly mum in the other