Is Mr Turner the last old fashioned shoe repairer in Norwich?
PUBLISHED: 16:36 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 17:54 01 May 2019
He has toiled away in his tiny cobbler's shop for nearly half a century - but Mr Turner of Turner's Shoes may soon be putting down his tools for good.
If you've wandered past the shop, on the corner of Esdelle Street, near Anglia Square, you could be forgiven for thinking it had closed up years ago.
Security grilles obscure the windows but if you peer in, it's piled high with everything from old tins of boot polish to dusty laces and soles. This curious little shop, with graffiti on its adjacent wall, always seem closed – but in fact that is far from the truth.
Owner Richard Turner, 79, makes the journey from his home in Mattishall, near Dereham, by bus four days a week to sit in his shop to repair shoes. Much of the work is done by hand, stitching soles to men's shoes and mending zips in boots. Other work is completed with the aid of his battered but faithful 63-year old sewing machine.
Yet, he fears his business, which has been going since he opened up the shop in 1972, will not survive much longer.
“Everyone throws away shoes now, they don't repair them,” he said. “They buy cheap shoes and get rid of them. It's the same with electric kettles.”
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Mr Turner, who is married to Joan, 74, is considering shutting up shop for good next year because of another worry: “Next year all the tax goes digital, I have an accountant but I just don't think I can cope with that.”
Mr Turner has been repairing shoes since he was 17, learning his trade in Manchester and working for a short while in a factory which used to be opposite his shop.
However, he soon went it alone, opening his own little business and still has some regular, loyal customers who keep him ticking over.
The shop, just two rooms, is packed with old items and the back room taken up primarily by a large shoe and boot polisher.
“I know where everything is, of course I do,” he said.
Mr Turner doesn't have a phone in the shop, however incredibly he does have an online presence. Two reviews have been posted, both giving Turner's a five out of five rating. One stated: “High quality, cost-effective repairs from a good, old fashioned shop and wonderful tradesman done in a matter of hours.” Another added: “Brilliant service. A lovely man who gave my boots a new life, excellent job and within the same day.”