Posts Tagged ‘cobbler’

Awl you need

March 16, 2015

Sorry about the pun which is not ours originally. But we are looking at an awl today.

Awls are simple tools, designed to punch or pierce holes through materials. Our awl was used by a cobbler.


This awl is about 12 centimetres (5 inches) long. It has a comfortable wooden handle and a sturdy spike, ideal for boring a hole through leather when shoe making or repairing. This awl was just for hole making, some awls have an eye near the pointed end so that a thread can be pushed through the hole when sewing leather pieces together.

This awl was found, along with other tools in Easterton and is thought to date from the early years of the twentieth century.

Awls are of course, dangerous. Perhaps the most famous awl accident was the one when Louis Braille managed to stab his eye with an awl. This blinded one eye immediately and the infection created blinded his other eye. Ironically, Louis later used an awl (blunted) to create his raised dot alphabet which enables blind people to read by touch.


January 2, 2014

Yes, the physical museum, situated off the churchyard in Market Lavington is closed at the moment. We can take this opportunity to remind our readers that we open the museum on Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday and Bank Holiday afternoons between May 1st and October 31st between the hours of 2,30 to 4.30 pm. If you would like to visit at another time then get in touch and we’ll see what can be arranged. We exist to share our knowledge, not to keep it bottled up so we do our best to help people who can’t visit during normal opening hours.

But the title for this blog actually refers to the former shoe business in Market Lavington which was run by Ken Mundy, and before that by previous members of his family. Today we are looking at the Open or Closed sign which Ken had on his High Street shop.

Closed sign from ken Mundy's shoe shop on High Street, Market Lavington

Closed sign from ken Mundy’s shoe shop on High Street, Market Lavington

It may come as no surprise that this carried an advert for Phillips ‘Stick-a-soles’ and heels. We know Ken had the little advert in the form of a cobbler working with ‘stick-a-soles’. You can see the blog post about that item by clicking here.

The hanging notice is clear in its message but the hand written early closing day has faded away. The other side said the shop was open but is quite badly worn away.

Ken was a village character and is remembered with much affection for his ability to make (yes make) a really classy pair of wedding shoes and his untidy shop premises. He is also remembered for his reluctance to have mains water laid on, preferring to walk down to Broadwell with two buckets on a yoke. He is also remembered for the way he became a handsome dasher on the dance floor.

Sadly, when Ken was no longer able to cope, his shop closed permanently.

It is closed, but not forgotten.

Ken Mundy’s Flag

June 12, 2012

Many years ago, when Ken Mundy was retiring from his shoe selling, making and repairing business, he gave our curator a flag. It isn’t a huge flag – about the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Ken had it to mark the Coronation of King George VI and his wife, Queen Elizabeth. The coronation took place in 1937.

There can be little doubt that Ken (who has featured before) was one of the village characters. He might have seemed to have led a basic sort of life – rejecting what he saw as luxuries, like piped water to his house. There are many folks alive now who recall Ken making his way to Broadwell with buckets hanging from his yoke, to collect his water. This was in contrast to some pigs he kept. They were allowed the piped variety of the vital liquid.

The village lads liked Ken. He was always ready for a chat and it seems they hung on his words of wisdom. This often seems to have been the case with village cobblers – and blacksmiths as well.

But Saturday night was for dancing for Ken. He’d put on his finery and head off to Devizes where, we are told, he was a real goer at the dances. He’d return on the late bus.

But in 1937 he must have decided he needed a little something for the Coronation – his flag.

For this season, you can see the flag with the display of shoes and cobbling tools in the trades room at Market Lavington Museum.

A cobbler’s last

July 22, 2011

Shoemaking and mending was once an important local task in towns and villages throughout the country. Market Lavington and Easterton were no exceptions. A scan through the censuses of the nineteenth century reveals that many men were engaged in the boot and shoe business. Some were called cobblers but more were boot and shoe makers or had a job name specific to one type of shoe such as a cordwainer who made more luxurious shoes.

One thing these workers had in common was the use of a last – a heavy metal shape for holding a shoe whilst it was worked on.

We have a number of lasts in different shapes and sizes at Market Lavington Museum.

A cobbler's last at Market Lavington Museum

The one shown here can be stood three different ways round so that the top or working surface suits three different sizes of shoe.

This cast iron shoemaker’s last was made by a company called Bloomers in about 1893.

We have mentioned Market Lavington’s last cobbler, Ken Mundy, on previous occasions and some of our cobbling tools, and our wonderful Phillips stick-a-sole man come from his shop. But many of our tools were found in an Easterton cottage once occupied by a cobbler.

Heel Nails

June 9, 2011

Our Phillips Stick-a-soles and heels man has proved to be one of the most popular pages on this blog.

That single page is looked at more than once every day, on average.

Now we have been given heel nails, from the same firm, Phillips, for adding extras on worn heels that are not suited to the stick-a-sole type of fixing. These came from a house in Easterton where the resourceful householders did their own shoe repairs.

These nails for all rubber shaped heels are a recent acquisition at Market Lavington Museum

In times past, for most people, a cobbler was an essential person in a village. Both Market Lavington and Easterton had cobblers, boot and shoe makers, cordwainers and the like in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries. Ken Mundy was the last cobbler with premises on High Street in Market Lavington until the early 1980s.

You can see our collection connected with Phillips and cobblers in the upstairs room at the museum. There’s more about cobbling in the trades room, downstairs.

A Skiving Machine

January 31, 2011

Surely people don’t need a machine to help with skiving? Well, actually, cobblers do. Skiving machines allow strips of leather to be cut to a specific shape. The shape obtained can be varied by changing settings on the machine.

A cobbler's skiving machine at Market Lavington Museum

Our machine is a hand operated example but for mass production powered examples were and still are available. In fact skiving machines are also available for metal shaping, as well as leather.

This skiving machine was used by village shoemaker and cobbler, Ken Mundy in his High Street premises. Usually, a skiving machine was used to put a shamfer on leather so that two pieces of the material could be joined smoothly.  It’s a very technical process and if you’d like to know more then click here to discover all of the secrets of skiving. And click here to look at a previous blog entry about the life of Ken Mundy

Ken Mundy

October 16, 2010

Ken has been mentioned quite often in these pages. He was the last cobbler/shoemaker in the village of Market Lavington running his business until ill health forced retirement in the 1980s.

Our photo shows Ken in the 1960s with all the clutter of his High Street premises around him.

Ken Mundy, Market Lavington cobbler and shoemaker in his shop during the 1960s.

We think Ken was born in 1915, the son of Fred and Lilian. Fred had been born in 1888, probably in the property which became Ken’s shoe emporium.

Ken became known as the man without mains water. He was the last person in the village to collect water from Broadwell, using two buckets and a wooden yoke. He did this well into the 1950s. His pigs, kept on The Clays, had mains water long before he did.

Ted, the leader of the village walks is one of those who recalls seeing Ken walking to Broadwell for water. He also recalls that lads used to go and chat with Ken as he worked. Cobblers seem to have had a reputation for homely wisdom. When Ted married, Ken made his shoes as a wedding gift. They were an exceptionally comfortable pair of shoes.

Do you have tales of Ken? We’d love to hear from you.

The Market Lavington Cobbler

September 21, 2010

In times past, every village had its own cobbler or shoemaker. In fact, dealing with shoes was a much in demand business to the extent that in 1851, Market Lavington had at least ten men who made their living making and repairing shoes. Some of them, like members of the Maslen family, called themselves cordwainers. Others, more prosaically, were boot and shoe makers. The word cobbler does not seem to have been in use then.

Ken Mundy was the last cobbler and shoe maker to be working in the village. He certainly made shoes into the 1960s and continued to repair into the 1980s when failing health caused retirement from the trade.

At Market Lavington Museum we have a number of artefacts from Ken’s High Street shop. We have already seen, on this blog, his Phillips stick-a-sole man. Today we look at one of many adverts he had.

Advertising sign from Ken Mundy's cobbler shop - now at Market Lavington Museum

Some may wonder why this is a St. Crispin Slogan. St Crispin is one of at least eight patron saints of shoemakers and cobblers.

Do visit the museum to discover much more about shoes, shoemaking and the people who worked at these crafts in the Lavington area.