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The shoe that survived the Blitz; FOUND AFTER BEING LOCKED AWAY FOR DECADES... THE FOOTWEAR THAT BEARS SCARS OF WWII BOMBS.

Byline: Georgia Arlott NEWS REPORTER

STAFF at Coventry's oldest shoe shop were stunned to unearth a 1940s woman's shoe - which still bears the scars of the Blitz.

Staff at Charles Ager shoe shop in Corporation Street were amazed to stumble across the historical find - hidden away in a cupboard.

The battered brogue had survived the 1940 air raid which destroyed the firm's former Smithford Street shop, opened 100 years before.

The well-known shop - one of the city's oldest retailers - has traded in Coventry for more than 150 years and has been headed by six generations of the Ager family.

Sue Atherton, operations manager for Charles Ager, contacted the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum after she learned that it was displaying a pair of Downton Abbey style 'flapper shoes' in its latest fashion exhibition.

Excited curators at the museum rushed to the store to see the relic - which is now taking pride of place in the Keeping Up Appearances exhibition as a fascinating piece of Coventry history.

Ali Wells, Keeper of Collections at the Herbert and curator of the new exhibition, said: "The shoe dates from the 1940s and was found in a cupboa rd.

"It shows the scarring of fire damage and is partially melted, and it's an incredible survivor of an horrific night."

Manager Sue Atherton said: "We spoke to the Herbert about the shoe after one of our directors found it in a cupboard along with other artefacts. It must have just been transferred with the other old stock when we were bombed out of the old store and has survived there for nearly 70 years - quite incredible really, although we are one of the oldest retailers in Coventry."

The shop originally opened as a family firm in 1840. Current staff have also unearthed old photographs including one of Jack Hobson, the great grandson of the founder, holding the bomb-damaged shoe.

The blast which wrecked the shop - and indeed much of the rest of the city centre - left only a few girders standing. Of the contents, the carefully sand-bagged safe alone remained, with the silver coins melted into one lump and bank notes crumbling at a touch.

Within weeks a new shop had been set up at premises in Corporation Street - complete with a temporary front, protected windows and a defiant 'Business as Usual' sign.

Nowadays the shop is a mere stone's throw from the Belgrade Theatre, where a production of Blitz play One Night in November is currently being staged.

Ruth Saunders, from the Belgrade, said: "We are just a few metres away from Charles Ager and the find is a really incredible coincidence, especially considering the scene in the play when shoes are symbolically laid out on stage in an act of remembrance for those Coventrians who lost their lives on the night of the Blitz."

CAPTION(S):

WORLD WAR SHOE: The women's brogue was left undiscovered in a cupboard at Coventry's Charles Ager shoe shop

SOLE SURVIVOR: Sue Atherton, shop manager for Charles Ager, with the wartime woman's brogue which survived the bombing that destroyed the shop REDUCED TO RUBBLE: Coventry's Charles Ager shoe shop after the 1940 Blitz - just the girders were left standing
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 21, 2013
Words:529
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