Brent 2020: The marvel of Brown Edwards shoe repair shop in Kensal Rise captured in exhibition
PUBLISHED: 14:25 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 12:40 26 June 2020
A family-run shoe repair business which has been in Kensal Rise for 106 years is the latest photographic subject for a Willesden mum.
Brown Edwards, in Chamberlayne Road, opened in 1914 and was bought by the Umeria family in 1984.
For a time they also had a shop in Acton.
Satish and Bhagway, now both 62, have carried on the traditions of repairing shoes and expanded to cutting keys as well.
Daughter Ricka, who trained as a nurse, has worked in the business for 14 years after her father got sick.
“They started it together, dad did the leather work and mum did the stitching, the key cutting, the retail side,” the 37-year-old said.
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“When I just graduated from uni my father had a massive brain haemorrhage, he was lucky to survive it. I stepped in to help and I’ve been here 14 years. My dad will never go back to full health, he’s had heart attacks and pancreatic cancer, he really has been through the wars, but this business is his life. He and my mum are workaholics.”
The two women are at the front desk every day and at night, when the shop is closed, Satish comes and starts working with the leather, standing at the machines cutting, then grinding and gluing it.
“It’s a hard job, to repair shoes is a craft,” said Ricka. “My dad does it properly, if a sole’s run down, he’ll rebuild it.”
Their story is captured by Jude Wacks, part of her @a_Lifetimes_work photographic exhibition on Instagram, which captures diverse family businesses in Brent.
Her project is part of the Brent 2020 London Borough of Culture.
She said: “During my research phase, it become evident that local businesses need support and what better way to support them than to not just visit them but also to provide an opportunity to showcase them to not just our local community but also to those outside the area looking for businesses that really are focused on the quality of their product and service provided. Brown Edwards is one of those that I’m delighted to include.”
Ricka added: “I feel that small businesses are very unseen and very forgotten. When I look back at my parents and seen them work day and night, it’s nice for them to get that kind of recognition.”
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