After serving in Her Majesty's Royal Marines for many years, then working in Domestic Service in Surrey, I decided to return to my roots here in Anglesey to convalesce from a spinal injury. Not being one suited to a sedate life I decided to establish Moelfre Leather Workshop in an old building close to the seafront in Moelfre and fall back on experience gained abroad whilst serving with the Marines which was western saddle making and hand tooling leather.
I found that over the preceding years with the help of the local traders and Moelfre community as a whole, my knowledge of making and repairing leather goods grew to a point where it was prudent to take advantage of technology and have my own web site constructed.
Then, being the only western saddle maker in Wales and one of only two in the UK, the business of making the saddles really started and whilst still learning by trial and error expanded to include the repair and restoration of antique leather goods.
I found it a very stimulating profession as each day brought a new challenge in the variation of work required from a second world war artificial leg that had broken at the main strap for a visitor from Germany to making custom made replica leg ‘o’ mutton flintlock pistol holders for a Napoleon re-enactment group. After eight years of taking every job that came through the door and the expansion of the web site, it was decided the time was right to move from the 12ft x 12ft workshop, which had played its part in evolving the new look workshop and transfer to bring life back into the old bakery in Marian-glas, which had ceased trading some 27 years ago.
Taking on the new name of The Leather Workshop, and with thanks to all my friends and colleagues at Moelfre Lifeboat Station who made it possible by becoming removal men, painters, fitters and chimney installers. We opened the new workshop in January and have not looked back since, receiving orders and commissions from across the British Isles and abroad.
I seem to be one of a very small band of traditional master craftsmen who prefer the old working practices combined with modern technological developments in the computer age.
A selection of work that could be carried out each week ranges from: Restoration of Gladstone bags, repairs of named fashion handbags. Restoration and reconditioning of leather coats, jackets and furniture. Custom made leather goods from Shotgun cases, fishing cases, book covering and custom bags and panniers for motorcycles.
I love the challenge of being given a treasured antique and being able to breathe new life into it again turning it from a discarded old bag fit only for the bin into a well loved and well looked after heirloom.
I really think it is time Anglesey and Wales, which was a hive of industry and craftsmanship in its era, was put back on the map again and sing its own praises. In many areas of Wales we are becoming the innovators of traditional craftsmanship again proud enough to hold our heads up to the rest of the world.
Over the last two years the Leather Workshop has become far bigger than we all expected, demand for restoration and bespoke leather goods exceeded all our wildest dreams. We have now re-located the whole house, workshop and various animals, horses etc, to a new and bigger location on the N/W side of Anglesey close to Rhosneigr which make the administration far more efficient with the addition of a new member to this small family team.
My wife Linda has agreed to take over all the secretarial side so very soon customers could be dealing with her as well as myself. She has a very broad knowledge of how the workshop runs, which will be made far more efficient by her past experience in setting up and running admin base systems for expanding companies.
This will free up my time to concentrate an work alone, BLISS! thus creating a far better work/life balance. Please welcome her into our privileged circle.
Always here for you the customer,
Martin & Linda Ashworth,
The Leather Workshop