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Ron Jones - shoe worker and repairer
........ upon leaving Denbigh Grammar school in North Wales in 1955 at the age of 15 I would have spent nearly 50 years in the shoe trade....... it all started when my uncle and auntie came to Denbigh for a holiday in 1957 and seeing I had been out of work for a few weeks suggested I could go and live with them as there was plenty of work in Rushden. On arriving in Rushden I was amazed at the amount of shoe factories there was in the area, virtually one on every corner!

I started work at the Tecnic shoe factory in Bedford Road, my first day came as a bit of a shock what with the overpowering smell of leather (all of the components of the shoe were made of leather in those days) and the size of the factory! Coming from a small market town in North Wales I had never seen anything like it.

After a couple of years learning various jobs in the bottom stock department I asked the foreman Mr Robinson (everybody had a title in those days) if I could learn to operate the revolution press, a machine used for cutting leather soles, insoles etc. it paid good money in those days because of the dangerous element of the job. After I had been working on the press for a few weeks the boss, Mr Tarry came walking through the factory as he did most days, stopped at my machine and said 'good morning, you will be careful won't you'; he was a real gentleman.

All in all I spent a total of 27 years working at the Tecnic, I left 3 times to work in various factories but they always had me back, it was a good shop to work for as they say in Rushden, so I've got a lot to thank Rushden and the shoe trade for.

I left the Tecnic for the third and last time in August 1987 to set up on my own in a shop in Bedford road in Rushden, doing shoe repairs, stayed there a couple of years and moved to the North Wales coast still doing shoe repairs, returned after 8 years and finished the last 7 years of my working life working at Alfred Sargent's in Portland Road until I retired in 2005.

Norman with the machine behind Ron Jones
In 1980 Norman Shortland's widow sold the machine to Ron Jones. Ron says: "I used to live in Rushden and Higham Ferrers. I had shoe repair shop in Bedford Road in Rushden for a couple of years before moving to Wales for 8 years taking all the equipment with me as I was still working then. We returned to this area to live in Raunds in 1997 (bringing all the machinery back with me!) I've been retired for 5 years so I only repair my wife's shoes, and mine of course!
Norman with the machine behind him (see white arrow)
Ron Jones operating the same machine

The thing that grieves me now is the quality of the shoes on the market, mainly due to foreign imports whereas when I first started in the trade every factory made quality shoes, now sadly there's only a handful in the whole county that make good quality welted shoes.

Ron Jones.

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