Morecambe cobbler to retire after 65 years

Wally Woodhouse is retiring after 65 years of work as a cobbler in Morecambe town centre.
Wally Woodhouse is retiring after 65 years of work as a cobbler in Morecambe town centre.

Wally Woodhouse was 15 years old when he started work as a cobbler in Morecambe.

Now Wally is preparing to retire after an astonishing 65 years in the trade.

The 80-year-old Morecambrian will soon close his Euston Road shop just a stone’s throw from where he started out working for his dad Arthur in 1952.

When Wally left school he went straight into the family shoe repair and sales business housed in the old Dreadnought Motors coach garage next to what was then Euston Road School (now Morecambe Bay).

“We did all the high fashion stiletto shoes,” he said.

“We sent them to the bathing beauties in Morecambe and down to London.

“As soon as the lasses who worked in the Morecambe factories got their wages, they came in to get their shoes to wear at the weekend.

“They were good times. Morecambe had the ballrooms, all the entertainment, the Winter Gardens, the Palace Theatre, the Whitehall Cinema. It was marvellous.”

In 1962, the business moved a few doors down the road to Queen Street before Wally took over the current premises around 30 years ago.

He has been a fixture there ever since, cutting keys and repairing shoes for his loyal customers while providing the kind of friendly personal service he fears is dying out.

“It’s all changed,” he said.

“I personally think the days of shops are finished. Supermarkets are killing small shops.

“You can go into Asda or Morrisons and get your key cut in a machine.

“I think my trade will 
eventually disappear which is a shame. I’ve been doing it all my life and I’m still learning.”

Wally has decided to retire to look after his wife Sheila, who is recovering from a stroke and a broken hip.

Sheila was at his side in the shop for many years and the couple were also members of the famed Morecambe Raiders Wild West group who met in the Crazy Horse Saloon and Ranch House Bar at Frontierland, appeared in Morecambe Carnival and took part in ‘shoot-out’ re-enactments on the theme park.

“Sheila is on the mend but I want to spend more time with her,” said Wally.

“Our customers have been brilliant. When Sheila was taken ill they sent chocolates and flowers, and we’re still getting phone calls.

“People have been coming in saying it’s the end of an era. But I can’t go on forever, much as I would like to.

“It’s time I had my rest!”

Wally hopes to close just before or after Christmas.