Shrewsbury jeweller clocks off after 30 years – and is replaced by his son

One of jeweller Brian Evans final tasks before retiring was to finish the almighty task of putting 800 clocks forward an hour in his Pride Hill Shopping Centre store for the last time.

Brian Evans is the longest serving manager in the Shrewsbury shopping centres and on Saturday hands over the reins of F Hinds to his son Carl after 30 years in the job.

But before he could do so he had to complete the twice yearly time change – a job that took his team of six several days and involved tinkering with up to 800 winding and digital mechanisms.

Brian, aged 62, said: “We must have about 800 watches and clocks that we have to reset. We all do a bit and gradually chip away at it but it takes days.

“There are some that we leave at ten to two as well, which is an old traditional thing from long before I ever set foot in a jewellers. The idea is that it looks like a smiley face.”

The Pride Hill Shopping Centre store has an impressive collection of timepieces, many of which ring, ding, chime or even play a tune on the hour but Brian says he no longer notices any of it.

He said: “They are all set slightly differently so they don’t all go off at exactly the same time – that would be bedlam – but we don’t even hear it anymore as we’re here all day every day.”

Brian, who lives in Oswestry with wife Tina, managed the Shrewsbury store since 1989, and spent five years with the company in Cwmbran before that.

He said: “Before then I was store manager of Hepworth’s the tailor before it was Next so 43 years in total in one store or another and I’m the longest serving manager in the Pride Hill Centre by quite some years. Hence the retirement!”

Over his many years of service, Brian has seen several changes, in particular the launch and subsequent growth of the internet side of the business, as well as increasing hours and fickle jewellery fashions.

He said: “Nowadays some pop star or other just has to wear a certain brand for five minutes and they all want it.

“We sell a lot more white gold now as metal colours have changed and in recent years Tanzanite has come to the fore and there is only one mine for that in the whole world so when that runs out who knows what will be next?

“The other side of the business that has increased dramatically recently is buying and selling gold. I think after the property market wasn’t so stable, and share prices were a bit dodgy people came back to the tried and tested gold as an investment.”

Kevin Lockwood, Manager of the Darwin, Pride Hill and Rverside Shopping Centres, said: “Brian has been almost part of the furniture here for so long that it will seem strange without him.

“Retail is a fast moving business and you don’t stay as a manager for that long unless you’re very good and it’s rather wonderful that he is actually handing over to his son as well who has also worked here before.”

Having seen so many changes, good and bad, the one thing Brian will miss about his job at Pride Hill is the people.

He said: “There is a lot more paperwork, and there is a lot more health and safety but the one thing that doesn’t change is the customers and that’s what matters.

“There are people whose parents I sold christening gifts to when they were born who come back now to buy wedding rings from me and it’s lovely to have that connection with people at all the important times of their lives.

“It’s nice to have that continuity and they’ll still have that as it’s my son who is taking over from me and they know him already,” Brian added.

Carl has followed his dad into the same business, working with him at F Hinds and has been operating as duty manager of the Stockport branch.

The 38-year-old is delighted to take over from Brian at Pride Hill even though he knows he has a lot to live up to following in his father’s footsteps.

He said: “I have big shoes to fill taking over from my father but it will be really nice. He’s taught me all I know so it’s an honour for me really.

“We worked together in Pride Hill before for 18 years so he knows it will be in safe hands and I know he’s looked after it well. It’ll still be a bit weird though.”

And while Carl keeps the store running as his father did before him, Brian is looking forward to spending more time on a few jobs at home, sorting out decades of family photographs and enjoying his seven grandchildren – without having to keep an eye on the clock.

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