A man who don't refuse

A man who don’t refuse

Here is a man, who don’t refuse,

To make or mend your boots and shoes;

His work is good and also quick and

What is more, he gives no tick,

But when he dies, he fears no coals,

Because he’s saved so many soles.

Author unknown.


I found this poem while looking through an old Basildon Recorder paper dated 11 October 1961. It makes no reference to our area but I have decided to include it because it appeared on a board outside Frank Plume’s shoe and repair shop in Langdon Hills.

Frank moved to Laindon in 1952 from Stratford where he had started learning his trade 35 years previous. While in Stratford he lost his wife and children during the war so he moved to Romford and started up his business again before moving to Laindon. The verse was given to him by an old Laindon resident who as a sailor had travelled extensively in Australia. This old gent had come across the verse in a bush town shoe shop; he learnt it by heart and on his return, gave it to Frank.

Frank was impressed and a few days later painted it on a big piece of hardboard and displayed it outside his shop, bringing many a chuckle to those passing by. In the nine years that Frank had his shop in Langdon Hills he estimated that he had cobbled hundreds of thousands of shoes but it was the fashionable stilettos that gave him the biggest headache.

With the slow demise of the Laindon shopping area in 1961, Frank decided to move his shop to Basildon and at the time of the newspaper report, was preparing a new sign to go over his new shop. Beneath the words “Hospital for Boots and Shoes,” it read: “Here is a man who don’t refuse…….

The question is, does anybody remember Frank and his shop in Langdon Hills and where was the shop in Basildon?

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  • When Frank Plume’s shop closed in the High Road at Langdon Hills. He moved premises to Lee Chapel South and took the small shop at the top of the parade now known as Gillies Lillies. Sadly like many of our old High Road retailers he was not to last too long there with higher rents and rates it closed within a couple of years. Eric Cole the greengrocer of Nightingale Parade was offered a shop there but declined on account of the high rent but Townsends, Peters Hair Fashions and the Smith Brothers of Butlers Grove all took leases with the Development Corporation and opened new shops in the same parade as Frank’s at the Knares Lee Chapel South. 

    By Paul Gibson (25/04/2017)
  • I remember Frank’s little shop very well. The huge pieces of tanned leather waiting to be cut to shape and the wonderful smell! I recall that Frank had a very pronounced limp. A thin tall guy, always wore a brown warehouse coat. Great belt driven machines in the shop, for buffing and polishing. Not many folk can afford leather soled shoes these days, plus the high cost of repair. These guys are a dying breed.

    By Robert Springate (29/03/2017)
  • My brother Tom worked for Frank Plume as a young lad. His duties included watching the store when Frank was absent, delivering repaired shoes to customers, and repairing and replacing heels. Apparently he never graduated to repairing or replacing the soles.

    Tom tells the story of how, on one occasion, Frank tried to change the belt on his machine with the machine still running. Frank lost a finger. The ambulance was called.Tom was asked to find the missing finger. He found it in a pile of sawdust. The medics took Frank and the finger to St Andrews hospital in Billericay. I guess, as a young lad one does not forget that sort of experience.

    By Alan Davies (27/03/2017)
  • Frank Plume’s shoe repair shop was a single storey unit on the east side of the High Road, between Osborne Road and Salisbury Road, Langdon Hills.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (27/03/2017)

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