Charlie Wray was the first Wray to show any business acumen - and this was possibly
the consequence of a disability.
He was born in the late spring of 1910 at Gosmore. When he was aged seven, his leg
was amputated at the hip at North Herts Hospital because of blood poisoning after
a fall. His father made him a little dog cart which his friends used to ferry him
about. He was able to hook birds' nests down with his crutch
Charlie married ‘his childhood sweetheart’ Elaine Smith on 17 January 1934 at Ippollitts
In 1929, he started a shoe repair business at Hitchin Arcade, West Alley, Hitchin.
As he said, ‘I had lost a leg as a child...and thought it would be a sitting down
He was interviewed by reporters (a ‘genial personality’) and outlined his business
philosophy. He believed in ‘paying promptly and gaining full discount’ and ‘never
putting more capital into the selling side than he could afford’.
By 1951, his shop had grown into four units and he employed 14 men. It was in the
early 1950s that Dad took me to the shop where I met my cousin, Charlie, for the
He set out to give good service and specialized in handbag repairs and also sold
Charlie Wray and his shoe repair business at West Alley, Hitchin
Charlie and Elaine had one son who followed his father into the family business.