A POPULAR Wrexham cobbler has decided to hang up his boots and retire, after running his shop for 35 years.

Melvyn Ollier was a redundant factory worker who went to collect a pair of shoes from a cobbler back in 1985, and ended up taking over the business.

He is now in happy retirement after more than 35 years running the Shoefix shop on Spring Road, at the junction with Rhosddu Road, opposite the Spar store.

Following short spells at Halfords and Woolworths in the town centre he was made redundant in 1985 when the British Celanese plant closed in Wrexham, but luckily found himself to be in the right place at the right time to land another job immediately.

The Leader:

Mr Ollier said: “I had to collect a pair of shoes from the cobblers in Rhosddu and the then owner Mr Pete Abraham of Buckley asked what I was going to do with myself. I said I didn’t know, and he asked me to work for him and he would train me to be a cobbler. What luck it was for me at the time having to call in his shop.

Mr Abraham had other shops in Wrexham and Shotton, and so Mr Ollier, now aged 69, had run the one-man business ever since.

He said: “Wrexham was a very busy town in those days. It has certainly changed since then and not for the good. The shoe repair trade is not what it was with people now prepared to buy new shoes than have them repaired but there are some good cobblers still around, but I decided it was time for me to retire.”

The Leader:

Melvyn Ollier with his Welsh Athletics gold medal

He was an accomplished athlete in his younger days and won honours with Wrexham Athletics Club at 200 and 400 meters and did the London Marathon in under four hours.

He was also a keen cyclist. He did his business no harm by repairing athletes’ shoes and boots from clubs throughout North Wales Mr Ollier, along with his wife Glynis and daughter Catherine lived in nearby East Avenue, but the couple now reside on Winchester Way in Gresford with their married daughter living at Ffordd Estyn, Garden Village.

Local community councillor Mollie Beresford paid tribute to Mr Ollier, saying: “He is a really nice man. He knew everyone in Rhosddu and was a very good cobbler too. His business will be missed and in his younger days he was very good at sport, particularly athletics.”

The store has now permanently closed following Mr Ollier’s retirement, and at a meeting of Rhosddu Community Council, members had no objection to a planning application to change the premises at Spring Road from a retail shop into a residential dwelling.