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Cowboy boots cobbler fears for future in ‘dead end’ Camden Town

Rawhide calls on council to invest in Camden Road

14 February, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Pramit Yadey with his John Wayne photo

A CAMDEN Town cobbler who specialises in cowboy boots fears he may have to close down because the area is becoming a “dead end”.

Pramit Yadev, 68, has worked at Rawhide Shoe Repair, which also engraves trophies and offers a key cutting service, for 40 years since taking over from his father.

He moved to Camden Town with his father, Virji Velji, in the 1960s and lives above the shop in the council-owned building in Camden Road.

Mr Yadev is calling on the council to help with nearly £100,000 worth of repairs needed at the property.

“The building is over 150 years old and is in a state of disrepair,” he said. “The roof is leaking and the basement is filthy and damp. The costs are too high. I’ve been trying to negotiate with the council, but they won’t bring it down.”

The family has been in the shoe business for six generations. In the 1960s Mr Velji made shoes for actor John Wayne and the cast of Hatari!, filmed in Tanzania, where his family are from. Wayne wrote to Mr Velji thanking him for his service.

Rawhide has repaired shoes seen in Harry Potter and James Bond films. Amy Winehouse was a customer.

“She used to sit right there in that chair and wait for them to be fixed,” said Mr Yadev.

But he added: “Business is going down. It’s suffering even though it’s a specialist trade. We used to see 100 customers pass through our door every day. Now we see nowhere near that. People are buying trainers and cheap shoes on the market now,” he said. “Camden Town is becoming like a dead end. I used to have customers from up in Regent’s Park but nobody wants to come down to Camden Town any more.”

He added: “There are lots of empty shops in Kentish Town and Chalk Farm. Everywhere is suffering.”

A Camden Council spokesperson said that, with the shop lease due to expire within months, the council was in discussion with Mr Yadev about a new lease and the repairs, including the council contribution towards the costs.

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