Inspire Me

Hanshaws' leather workshop

Watch master craftsmen at work or make your own leather gifts at one of the Dock’s new classes

Leather Satchel Company at Albert Dock

‘We opened three days before Christmas,’ smiles master craftsman Keith Hanshaw, about the arrival of his family business, the Leather Satchel Company at Albert Dock in 2016. The business celebrated its 50th birthday that year, and has been based in Liverpool since it started in 1966. ‘We’ve done pop-ups before, but wanted to create a real retail experience,’ says Keith. ‘Somewhere we could customise bags and monogram live; do demonstrations in front of our customers.’ They’d looked all over the city for a permanent shop before opening at the Dock. ‘The heritage fits perfectly with our company,’ he says.

Hanshaws' Leather Workshop

After nearly 18 months at the Dock, the Hanshaws' are expanding their space, and opening Hanshaws' Leather Workshop, which includes a workshop where the team of master craftsmen will be based. ‘You’ll see the whole makingprocess, from cutting and stitching tomonogramming and finishing, where we add handles, straps and buckles,’ says Keith. ‘We’re also increasing the range here. We’ll still have satchels – and our saddle bags, totes and backpacks – but we’re going to be making a lot of smaller things too, like belts, purses, wallets, passport holders and keyrings.’

Keith Hanshaw

Master craftsman

Now in its 52nd year, for 20 years from the late 1980s the Leather Satchel Company was the only surviving satchel-maker in the UK.

Vintage leatherwork

Keith and his team – wife Gail, and the craftsmen that they have painstakingly trained – are passionate about their work crafting leather. ‘Part of our plan is to open up people’s perceptions of what we do,’ admits Keith. ‘But we also want to show off some of the other skills we have – heavy leather is our core DNA, but we also work with heavy fabrics and softer leathers. We make affordable luxury bags too – classic British leatherwork.’

The new studio will see the Hanshaws bring in a fly press from their very first workshop to do the heavy duty cutting, that’s older than the business itself. Customers will be able to drop in and watch work in progress with a cup of tea or coffee, or join a pre-booked workshop, and learn to make something for themselves.

Hanshaw’s Leather Workshop will bring a taste of 50-year heritage to the Albert Dock
Master craftsman Keith Hanshaw’s cutting mat in the window of his Dock workshop

Make your own

Workshops will show customers how to make their own leather goods, from business card holders and wallets, to keyrings, clutch bags and passport holders. They’ll be given a general introduction to leather, so they know what they’re looking for, alongside some practical cutting and stitching experience.

They’re perfect, says Keith, for groups of friends and work teams, and will allow the Hanshaws' to increase the work they do with schools. ‘Leatherwork is one of the most satisfying things you can do,’ says Keith. ‘Crafts are rightly popular at the moment – hand-stitching, for instance, gives you such a sense of satisfaction and wellbeing. You’re repeating the same simple movement over and over again – it has a real mindfulness to it.’

Sustainable and easily-repaired, leather satchels are made from a thoughtfully-evolved jigsaw of pieces
Keith Hanshaw is a master craftsman, and managing director of the family business.


The Hanshaws' are passionate about sustainability, reducing waste and where the leather they use comes from. Theirs are traditional skills, honed making products that last for decades and use every last inch of the leather they work with. Their skins are a by-product of the dairy process, chosen from high-welfare animals and coloured using vegetable dyes and natural oils, alongside chrome tanning from tanneries with zero carbon footprint.

"It comes back to keeping basic skills alive, making beer, soap – handmade crafts. If we can show people how to manufacture things on a small scale, the seeds of British manufacturing start to come back. It’s better for customers, because they can pop in and talk; they know where their product has come from. And we understand our products better, because we can refine them based on the things our customers tell us."

Keith Hanshaw

Leather Satchel Company

Britannia Pavilion

Hanshaws' satchels, sporrans and saddle bags sit in the shop’s window.

Leather that lasts a lifetime

Leather Satchel Co. provides a lifetime repair guarantee for its customers. ‘Just recently we repaired a bag that was over 25 years old,’ he says. ‘We’re trying to get together a collection of our oldest bags,’ adds Gail. ‘We think we might have found one that’s 40 years old, but we’d love to see where they’re all now.’

‘What we do here spans generations,’ says Keith. ‘Our customers range from six years old to people in their 70s and 80s. They know they’re getting something that will last a lifetime…’

Courses and classes start at Hanshaws' Leather Workshop this summer. Keep an eye on the Albert Dock website for more event detail and information.