Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Footsteps through History; Bygone Era of Local Shoemaker Alf Evans Recalled

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Footsteps through History; Bygone Era of Local Shoemaker Alf Evans Recalled

Article excerpt

FORMER students of Mackay's Christian Brothers College who attended the school during the years from 1929 until the 1970s may recall the familiar sound of leather soles stepping on wooden floorboards.

Many nervous schoolboys would've been twitching in their seats as the Sisters of Mercy walked along school corridors and between aisles of timber desks. The Sisters of Mercy taught students of Christian Brothers College, located on River St where St Patrick's College now stands from 1929 when the school opened. They wore traditional nun's habits and ankle-length dresses with stockings, according to Catholic Church customs.

The often ominous sound of the sisters' footsteps down college halls was the result of the handiwork of Mackay's first shoemaker, Mr Alfred William Evans Co who handmade all of the boots worn by the Sisters of Mercy in Mackay from the late 1920s onwards. Mr Evans arrived in Mackay in 1926, where he met Dorothy Nichols.

The couple married in 1927 and around the same time Mr Evans opened his shoemaking store on Victoria St. The sign outside the store, located where the Suncorp Building now stands on Victoria St, read C[pounds sterling]EVANS, for Footwear and RepairsC[yen].

While other cobblers were operating businesses in Mackay at the time, Mr Evans was the first true bootmaker to the region. His daughter, Frances Berardi (nee Evans) recalls the tools of his trade lining the timber shelves of his workshop. C[pounds sterling]He had wooden lasts which were used for making shoes by hand, and there was the familiar hammering of the sewing machines,C[yen] Mrs Berardi said.

C[pounds sterling]He'd hand-sew all the boots though Co they were incredibly detailed. The Sisters of Mercy wore their boots as part of their daily uniform every day Co and my father was the one they trusted to make them. His work was held in high regard by the sisters and all his regular customers. …

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