West End Shoe Repairs in Bury St Edmunds to close as owner Ray Curry to retire
A Bury St Edmunds cobbler whose family have mended people’s footwear for about 180 years has decided to retire.
Ray Curry, who runs West End Shoe Repairs in St Andrew’s Street South, will close the business on Thursday, August 31.
His father Don opened the repair centre 62 years ago and Ray has been running it on his own for the past 35 years after his father suffered a stroke and passed away.
The Curry family have been in shoe repairs for about 180 years when Ray’s great-grandfather set up shop in Etna Road.
West End Shoe Repairs has a strong customer base, with people travelling from out of town to use the service, and many have been popping in with cards and gifts following news of Ray’s retirement.
He said: “The business is closing down. It’s sad, but it had to happen. I will be 65. What can you do? You cannot carry on. It’s a shame really. It’s the end of an era.”
Customer Liz Lock dropped by with a gift, saying “a token of my appreciation. We are really going to miss you”.
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She told this newspaper: “I have lived in Hospital Road for 18 years and have always brought shoes here. I now will be going round with dilapidated shoes.
“My dance friends in Cambridge bring their dance shoes to me to bring here.”
And Ray will miss his customers, he said. “I talk to everybody and they tell me all their problems as well,” he added.
He has kept the inside of the centre “quite old-fashioned”, which he said was deliberate, adding people would come in and take photos.
He said over the years business had remained steady, with the need for people to have their shoes repaired never diminishing.
He has worked on a pair with bullet holes, brought to him by a man who imported worn American boots, and specialises in orthopaedic shoe work.
Ray said: “It’s time for a break. I have had a bit of illness and it’s a wake-up call. You can keep putting it off. Especially with my dad’s history - it focuses your brain a bit. I’m older than he was.”
He will start his retirement with a three-week trip to South Africa with his wife Dawn and his cousin Brian, who runs Curry’s Service Centre in Cannon Street, and his wife Margaret. He will also have the time to pursue his many interests, including sport, gardening and cooking.