Our Story - The Greatest Shoeman
Deeply rooted on the High Street in the heart of Dodworth village in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, this iconic family business has stood tall for almost a century.
With its eye catching black and white Tudor effect exterior, this converted cottage is the perfect setting for such a longstanding village fixture. Known locally as 'Payne's of Dodworth' this treasure has seen 2 World Wars and accumulated a significant amount of history along the way.
Edgar Payne originally of Northamptonshire, came to Barnsley with his wife and son Harold in 1922. He had a life-long association with footwear production and retailing and as a native of Irchester, he was employed for many years in the local factories. A skilled craftsman and keen businessman, in 1923 'Paynes' boot and shoe repair was formed in a terraced house at the top of the High Street. Edgar built up a reliable and professional service, securing a regular contract with the British Army to repair soldiers boots. Every Monday a huge cart containing at least 100 pair would arrive to be repaired and take back with it those that were completed from the week before. At this time it was Edgar who also built shoes up from scratch, making copious amounts of clogs for the mining industry. With demand for his services growing significantly, bigger premises were bought a few doors down where the local chinese takeaway now stands.
It seemed only natural that on completing school Harold would join his father in the family business and after proving he had the same talent and art that Edgar possessed, was passed ownership at only 23 years old.
Harold continued to uphold and maintain the standards that his father before him had worked had to secure. The companies reputation was becoming a talking point and business was pouring in. Harold went on to marry a local girl, Annie Thorne. Moving into the end cottage, 23-25 High Street, 4 doors down from the current business premises, he expanded again to further meet demand by purchasing the middle 2 cottages.
Harold and Annie had 4 children together, all sons. The eldest and youngest, Denys and John, joined their father and the business went on to become H.E. Payne and Sons Ltd. Whilst Denys went on to solely run the business, John persued other avenues of self employment but his heart remained within the shoe shop and he regularly came in to help with the repair work.
Whilst Denys had no children of his own, John married and had 3 children, 2 boys and a girl. The two eldest, Jamie and Natalie, were brought up in their father's many newsagents and worked from a young age, delivering papers before school and stacking shelves to name but a few roles they were tasked with. Matthew however was born 7 years later in 1995 and it became apparent he had the skill set that most of the men in the Payne family had; the ability to create masterpieces with his hands. Whilst regularly visiting their grandparents at 23-25, Matthew showed a keen interest in uncle Denys' workshop. When he left school at 15 he naturally followed the footsteps of his father before him and became the 4th generation to work at H.E. Payne and Sons Ltd.
It's fair to say that Denys didn't have the patience to learn him the trade and so over the next 3 years Matthew had invaluable lessons from his dad John! During this time Denys retired and Matthew became the youngest Payne to take the reins after his father was diagnosed as terminally ill. From 2014 at only 19, he independently held the fort for the next 4 years whilst still seeking guidance and advice from his father when needed.
However, in December 2017 John's health significantly declined and following his passing in May 2018, Natalie left her job at the village primary school and became the first female in the Payne family to work in the now 96 year old family business.
Over the past year significant changes have been made at Payne's to bring the premises into the 21st Century and make more people aware of this little village treasure.
We now have our own logo, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and the shop has been given a new lease of life.
With Natalie familiar with the admin side of running a business and Matthew providing a repair service of significant quality, it's obvious that this partnership compliments each other well. At only 30 and 23 years old they are guiding each other along the path to perfection in memory of their much loved father.
The business is busier than ever with between 60-80 repairs in the workshop at any one time and a typical turnaround of 2-3 weeks.
Astonished by Matthew's remarkable talent for shoe craft Natalie went on to give him a nickname that has become a firm favourite amongst old and new customers; The Greatest Shoeman.