Our Story

Albert Watkinson
Herbert Evans
Bill Preece
Jeffrey Preece

For over 100 years (since 1904), Watkinson's name has been synonymous with Footwear Retailing in York. Now in its Fourth Generation, we are proud to be an independent family run Establishment whose ethos is quality, service, value for money and attention to detail.


The story, akin to the Elf and the Shoe Maker, goes like this; Albert Watkinson (Master Bootmaker) cycled to York from Suffolk, visited Castle Howard, liked it and decided to settle in York. He opened a small retail and repair shop in Gillygate but quickly outgrew this premises and moved to the original Shoe Shop, No 2 Bootham. Since then Watkinsons have traded from various sites within the city, purchasing properties alongside retailing shoes.


Our identity is a Victorian-style arcaded shop window, together with our black and gold corporate colours and scroll emblem consisting of Albert Watkinson’s original signature. The brass shoe sign purchased in the 1970s by Dorothy Preece from an antique stall in York Market won an award as one of the most tasteful advertisements in the city of York All these have merged over the generations and represent who we are today.

Throughout the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Bill Preece (Managing Director) skilfully steered the Company through changing times. His foresight in purchasing properties, rather than renting retail premises, proved a winning formula.
Purchased in 1978 Watkinsons is one of the oldest shops in
Goodramgate. Being a large premise, it gave us the opportunity to develop into one of the finest independent footwear shops in the country.

Today in 2020, Goodramgate is the hub of Watkinson HQ. We stock over 14,000 pairs of top quality brands from English and Continental manufacturers and our offices and warehouse are run from these beautiful premises.


The shop is currently run by Jeffrey Preece, who is the Fourth
Generation of the Watkinson's family- He has also worked with European manufacturers over the last 30 years and is the UK Agent for Sioux shoes of Germany.


We strive to bring you products which we not only consider stylish but quality and value for money - it’s what we have been doing ever since the very start in 1904!

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VAT Number: 169 8478 94 | Company Number: 540059

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