Memories of Boston Masons shoe shop tied up in marriage

Mason's Memories EMN-161208-145621001
Mason's Memories EMN-161208-145621001

A couple whose marriage is intertwined with shoe shop Masons (later Clarks) have been sharing some of their memories of the store.

It comes after Clarks announced two weeks ago it had made a business decision not to renew the lease on the former Masons building.

Bill Kirk with the staff taken on the last Saturday of trading as Masons,  April 28, 1990. Photo: Sue Kirk

Bill Kirk with the staff taken on the last Saturday of trading as Masons, April 28, 1990. Photo: Sue Kirk

Sue and Bill Kirk, of Wyberton West Road, Boston, first met through the store in 1983 after Sue took back some shoes for store credit.

Sue said: “As I left the store, Bill was waiting to see what I had bought and just after that he asked me out and we were wed a year later.”

Husband Bill, 63, who worked for Masons and then Clarks for 40 years from 1969 until 2009, joked: “She went in with a complaint and came out with a date – and it was a blooming expensive way to sort out a complaint.”

The couple were wed at Boston Register Office and 32 years later Sue still has those shoes (boxed), the receipt, and the diary entry for when she was due to pick up the shoes.

Mason's Memories EMN-161208-145650001

Mason's Memories EMN-161208-145650001

She also has plenty more clippings and branded items from the store, including an umbrella.

Bill was employed at Mason’s a week after leaving school and worked for three generations of the Mason family – William, John and Bob, Tim, Peter and Elizabeth.

In that time he learned a lot about the store, some of the history he related to us:

l Masons was founded in 1849. Its first shop was in Church Street before it moved to Strait Bargate.

l The store started as only two storeys high but was later built with three. It had the servant’s quarters below ground level and the owners’ accommodation at the top.

l There was another major refit after the Second World War when the frontage was moved and the business further expanded in the 1970s into Spick and Span Cafe and in the 80s it took over Hopper Jeweller’s former premises.

l Masons made shoes for a number of local prominent people of Boston, who each had wooden shoe lasts – moulds of their feet – measured out for shoes to be shaped on. The last of these shoes was made for a local garage owner in 1970.

l During the Second World War, a special vulcanised machine was used to repair the wellington boots of local farmers and fishermen due to a shortage of rubber to make new ones.