THE owner of a shoe repair shop is hanging up his boots after 42 years in the job.

Barry Windham, 57, has run Pullingers Shoe Repairs since 1978, mending thousands of boots, brogues, and more as he ushers in a steady stream of loyal customers.

But the shop – which has stood in Brighton’s George Street for more than 100 years – will close its doors when Barry retires on May 28.

He said it was “just time for a rest”.

“There’s been a shoe repair shop here since 1915”, he said.

“I’ve been doing this for more than 40 years – now, it’s the right moment to retire.”

Pullingers is one of the last shops in the city mending shoes the old fashioned way.

Barry said: “We do traditional repairs. There are no staple guns. It’s all hammer, nail, and stitching. I’m the only one who still works like this now.”

Fixing footwear runs in the family.

Barry said: “My dad taught me. He started running the shop in around 1970. He had a premises in Beaconsfield Road, and then he moved here.

“I remember when I was first deciding what to do for a living, my dad said to me: ‘What are you going to do when you leave school?’

“I told him I didn’t know, but he said: ‘You’re not staying at home doing nothing. Come to the shop’.

“I’ve worked here ever since.”

Barry’s experience is obvious as he works. He’s a master craftsman. I watch him build up a worn-down heel.

He moves quickly, slipping a black leather shoe over a metal mould on the workbench called a ‘last’.

He rips off the old heel with a pair of pliers, dips a brush in a glue pot, and joins on a fresh one.

Then, with a knife, he whittles it down to shape, and fixes it in place with a hammer and silver nails he holds in his mouth.

Sparks fly as he smooths the edges down on a sander. Almost as soon as he’s begun, the work is finished.

“I love doing a job well”, Barry said.

He also loves his customers. Many are regulars who remember him from when he was just a boy.

One, who has been coming for many years, told me why she keeps coming back.

“He does a brilliant job”, she said. He never puts a foot wrong.

“So many people come here – just look at all the shoes.”

There a piles of them on the workbench.

Out front, there are shelves stocked laces, brushes, polish, and English shoes made by Loakes and Crocket and Jone.

“Some of the styles they were selling in 1978 are still made now”, Barry said.

Back behind the workbench, Barry is operating a stitching machine.

It punches deep holes in the leather. “Keep your hands out the way”, he warns.

He polishes off job after job. Now, he’s mending a broken zip. He sharpens a knife, cuts a nick in the seam of the zip and peels it away from the shoe like skin.

Then he’s back to the sander.

It’s busy here. The polishing machine is whirring, customers are stopping by, and shoe after shoe gets repaired. It will be quiet here when Barry leaves.