The Wokingham Paper

Century-old village shop closes over high street pressures

Newman's shoe shop announced they will be closing at the end of February. Picture: Phil Creighton

A MUCH-LOVED village shop will be closing its doors after 126 years of trading. 

Newman’s, Crowthorne announced earlier this week that they will be closing on Saturday, February 29. 

William Newman opened the shop in 1894, which started out as a saddlery which sold, repaired and made leather goods. Since its opening, the business has remained in the Newman family.

The shop pictured in 1905 in Crowthorne. Picture Camberley: Photographs from the 1880s to the 1980s.

It now operates as a shoe shop, and has served generations of local families.

Granddaughters of Mr William Newman, Caroline and Jo now run the shop. Caroline said: “We have many happy memories of Newman’s, from seeing our grandpa repairing shoes, leather goods, saddles and that wonderful smell of leather to having our school shoes, which were not necessarily our choice, but Dad knew best.

“We were lucky enough to serve the 6th generation of Newmans with her first shoes in 2018, what an achievement. 

“It is very sad that we are closing but the way people shop has changed dramatically, being able to purchase everything online.

“And governments over the last couple of decades have not supported independent business and the high street. They have actively encouraged out of town shopping development and not made it a level playing field concerning the internet. 

“We as business owners and employers face ever increasing overheads; rent, business rates, being compelled to offer pensions and contribute, statutory sick pay is no longer reclaimable, national insurance contributions continuing to rise.

“Suppliers are upping cost prices to retailers and cutting margins, but selling online themselves cheaper than we can buy direct from them. These are just a few of the things we are up against. 

“Making a profit to reinvest in your staff and business seems impossible these days. 

“We are closing by choice albeit a very sad one. We would like to take this opportunity to give our heartfelt thanks to our loyal customers who have supported Newman’s through the many generations.”

The shoe shop was picked up by news outlets during its time operating. Picture: Phil Creighton

Lesely Lloyd, who grew up in Crowthorne said: “I’m very sad to hear of Newman’s closure. I had school shoes bought from them in 1955, when I started at Crowthorne Cof E Primary School, and through the sixties.

“My Dad, who was born in 1920 and brought up in Crowthorne, bought his shoes there and had repairs done in the workshop at the rear of the main shop.

“I remember as a child walking with Dad down the side alley to the workshop. I can still smell the leather used in the workshop. Memories of a long-gone era.”

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