Does throwaway society mean end for cobblers?

The building on the right is the premises that were later converted into Spencer & Penns remaining shop at Portchester
The building on the right is the premises that were later converted into Spencer & Penns remaining shop at Portchester
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No doubt many of you buy your shoes from a high street retailer or supermarket which seems to sell everything these days.

Most have cheap shoes on offer which last just a few months and are then thrown away. Gone are the days, it would appear, when everybody would automatically take their shoes to be repaired when heels became lopsided or soles wore thin.

OWNER David Spencer of Spencer & Penn

OWNER David Spencer of Spencer & Penn

Sadly, shoe repair men or women, or cobblers to give them their proper name, are few and far between.

In Portchester is the business of Spencer & Penn of West Street which has been trading from the same spot since just after the Second World War.

Mr Spencer Snr started the family business at least 80 years ago though.

He started out as cobbler nearly a century ago and just after the war moved into the present premises. He then began a partnership with a Mr Penn.

TREADLE Some of the antique, but still working, machines in Spencer & Penns workshop

TREADLE Some of the antique, but still working, machines in Spencer & Penns workshop

At one time there were two shops, one in Fareham which Mr Penn ran and where the present owner of the Portchester shop, David Spencer, started his apprenticeship some 45 years ago.

Over the years the company built up a solid reputation for good work.

As they look after people with a wider foot and with problem feet they also keep in touch with local podiatrists and chiropodists.

David told me that the days of shoe repairs is all but over.

FOOTWEAR Spencer & Penns shop at Portchester where it has been since just after the Second World War

FOOTWEAR Spencer & Penns shop at Portchester where it has been since just after the Second World War

‘At one time we had four cobblers in the workshop working six days a week, we were so busy.

‘There’s just me now.’

He adds: ‘It is not worth repairing modern shoes as they can be purchased so cheaply from some outlets.’

A podiatrist recently told me the cause of many foot problems today is the shoes people wear. If they bought quality shoes then many problems would not occur.

David Spencer became a partner in 1975 and when Mr Spencer Snr died in 1985 David became the sole owner (no pun intended).

There is still a full workshop at the back of the shop complete with old treadle sewing machines. He also sells modern shoes of real quality.