R Rhodes and Son is a small family business that spans 100 years and 4 generations of the same family. The business started in the 19th century around Shipley in West Sussex where Michael Rhodes (born around 1850s, died around 1905) was a boot maker and leather worker.
The business in its present form was set up after the 1st world war by Raymond Henry Rhodes (1895-1971).
Raymond started his working life at sea but his naval career was cut short by the sad loss of his young wife to the Spanish flu epidemic of the time. Having two small children he was was forced to move shore side, initially staying by the sea by starting up as a boot maker in Shoreham-by-Sea.
He moved his family to Billingshurst in 1919, initially renting a workshop before buying the house in which the family still live. Raymond Cecil Rhodes joined his father in the 1930s and the shop was built in 1934. Hence the shop name ‘R. Rhodes and Son’. At this time the business was primarily boot and shoe making, in addition to repairing.
After the second world war, and with the advent of mass produced footwear, the business concentrated on alterations and making of other leather goods. This included some less common items such as leather washers for wells, money pouches as used by the milkman and leather gaiters!
Geoffrey Thomas Rhodes joined his father Raymond Cecil in 1982 and continued to grow the business where he would soon begin to train his own sons, Christian and Simeon in the art of shoe repairs. Following Geoffrey’s untimely passing, Christian Henry Rhodes stepped in to take over the running of the business as well as keeping his own Locksmith and Security business running closely alongside. Using the families expertise, Christian has carried on the tradition of high quality shoe, boot and leather repairs.
The present repair business focuses on the repair, restoration and alteration of high quality footwear and riding boots, in addition to the restoration of other leather goods.
The sales side of the business provides a range of products to the customers of Billingshurst from slippers and wellies to shoe cream and dress shoes.
In 2019 the shop celebrated its 100th year trading in Billingshurst under the R.Rhodes & Son title. To move the business into the digital age, the website was relaunched offering online purchasing both direct and via ebay. this has allowed the business to continue to grow and meet a wider customer base while maintaining and continuing the Rhodes brand.