Archive for October 24th, 2012

Sharp’s cobbler’s shop and Brimfield’s van, Pontypool.

October 24, 2012

I recently received an email from Roy Davies which jogged my memory about a few things. This is what he says:

“I have been going back in time, as it were, since finding your site, quite often. My father, Ernest “Curly” Davies, in common I imagine with most other working class men, used to repair our shoes himself. He’d send one of us down to “Sharpies” shop in George street, Pontypool, just above the Royal cinema for a piece of leather and tacks.

                 “Sharpy” was Cyril Sharp, cobbler and seller of all things sporting from tennis racquets to longbows, and slings to knives, a fascinating shop. Inside, behind the counter, was a mound of stuff that seemed to be just thrown there. But, if you came to collect something that your dad wasn’t able to repair, they were always in that mound. Without fail Cyril would pick them out immediately. Lovely place to visit.

                  The mobile business I referred to was Brimfield’s. He had a van, quite like nothing seen locally. The body of the van was fitted out with glass fronted boxes and inside was all manner of hardware, from tap washers, complete taps and just about everything a house would need.  At the rear of the van were taps from which paraffin was dispensed into copper measuring jugs.The van was always immaculate, clean and polished.

                   Both Cyril and the Brimfields lived along Wainfelin Road. The Brimfields had a yard on the left side just as you rounded the bend and came to the straight with the chip shop on the far end on the right,

                   I wonder if there are any photos of the van . . . would be interesting.”  

Painting of George Street, Pontypool. Sharp’s cobbler’s shop would be
slightly off this picture, on the left but a little further up the street.

I remember Sharp’s shop though I didn’t go in there all that often. But I remember Brimfield’s van very well indeed as I lived in School Lane, Wainfelin, not far away. My friend John Paine and I were friendly with John Brimfield who was a year or so younger than us. I remember the store house in the yard next to the Brimfield’s house. There was a huge gallery made of strips of 2×1 inch timber and on these were all the carpets they used to sell. In the middle was a hollow part which we used as a sort of den. John Brimfield used to go into the house and pinch a few of his father’s cigarettes out of his tin of 50. These were quite common during the war when men in the forces, especially sailors, were supplied with the tins of 50 quite cheaply. We used to smoke the cigarettes secretly and out of view in our den amongst the carpets.

Wainfelin Road, Pontypool. Brimfield’s yard would be behind the white
 in the centre of the picture. Brimfield’s house is the white one
with a
 window showing. It was almost directly opposite
Wainfelin Post Office