A shoemaker in Lunenburg

Published 12:19 pm Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The compact but cozy storefront may be easy to miss at first.

Located across from the Lunenburg County Courthouse, next to the Mimosa Lake Park, “The London Shoemaker” offers a service that’s getting rarer to find: crafting and repairing leather shoes.

Paul Davies, who opened the shop this summer with Kathy Davies, his wife, said shoemaking has been a central part of his life and career.

“37 years,” Davies said about how many years he has worked in shoemaking. “(It’s) a shock when I said it.”

Davies grew up in Kent County, located in England. At 16, he moved to London to pursue shoemaking. He worked in London for approximately 25 years before moving to the states in 2005.

His specialty has been to tailor and repair horse riding boots. He has a few in his shop that he has mended, everything from fixing a broken zipper to patching leather that’s worn thin.

Davies carves his own wooden shoe molds of his customers’ shoe size and feet and uses them to fit the leather around it, where it will soon meld into the mold. Davies will then sew seams into the leather to make the shoes.

“The ability to make something that fits somebody perfectly,” Davies said when asked about the most rewarding aspect of his craft. “Until you wear a pair of handmade shoes, you don’t know how to describe it. When you wear a pair of handmade shoes—not that other shoes are uncomfortable—but it’s a different feeling.”

In addition to horseback riding boots, he also makes dress shoes for men, and has even made a pair of dress shoes for women that reflects the style of shoes worn by women in the 1920s.

The small and cozy store has a fireplace and a workshop that gives Davies enough room to mold and craft the leather shoes he makes.

Davies said the first property owner had made the tiny building as an office space, which he said has made it ideal to craft into a workshop and store.

Davies said his favorite part about the workshop is the view of the lake he has from his window.

“It’s very peaceful out the window,” Davies said.

Guests, in addition to requesting leather shoes, can also purchase embroidered velvet shoes, homemade soaps, tartans kilts, specialty ties, skirts and designer purses. Davies said the store sources specialty items from all over the world.

“We try to source things in Europe or America as much as possible,” Davies said about the items. “We try to find things that are a little bit different.”

Davies and Kathy are also working on a cafe set to open at the property in front of the shop called Rosewood Virginia. The cafe will sell speciality teas and pastries. Davies said they are in the process of installing a kitchen into the upper floor of the home, and said the cafe is expected to open by the beginning of 2018.