“I’VE never used this job as a money-making exercise for myself personally,” said Pete Doré.

“I’ve run this shop as though I’ve been a manager working for somebody else, because that’s how I started in the trade – working for other people.

“The basic enjoyment I get from it is when I get somebody coming in, and they’ve been all round the town looking for a product and can’t find it, to be able to say: ‘Yes sir, I’ll be able to get it for you in two days.’

“When people are shopping for anything, they want satisfaction with what they’ve purchased. These days, unfortunately, they get second best because they can’t get what they’re looking for.”

Pete’s satisfaction in helping others even extends to interviewers unsure of how to accent the final letter of his surname on a keyboard.

“It’s CTRL, ALT and E – or ALT GR if you’ve got it.

“The name goes back to 1274, when the Irish were taken over with the English to fight the Normandy Wars. While they were over there the clerics changed the name.

“The Irish name was O’Dwyer, so they decided to take the O off the front an put the accent on the back, and in the end you get Doré.”

Pete’s more recent ancestry was in London. His father, a wrought iron worker, served in the Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War, and was based in Scotland. His young family was evacuated to Swindon in 1944.

“Because mum was having my brother, they said to my father: ‘We’ll take you out of the Fleet Air Arm and put you as a dispatch rider'.

“One day, Dad was riding to London and he got involved in a severe accident. A lorry, which was letting off Polish evacuees, had his tailgate down.”

It was November 11, 1945, the first post-war Armistice Day, but certain wartime restrictions were in place.

The lorry’s rear lights couldn’t be seen because of the open tailgate, and the motorcycle headlight was covered but for a slit.

“He went into the back of the lorry. He suffered a fractured skull and that was the end of Dad – leaving mother with me aged three, my brother of three months, and no help as such as we know it today from the Government.

“So my mother had to find jobs to make ends meet.

"In those days Swindon’s school meals were cooked up in Savernake Street, and the school meals service distributed all the meals to the schools around Swindon.

“So she got a job there, which mean that when the schools were finished Mum was there to pick us up.”

It was a hard life. The family lived in Chelworth Close, near Purton Road in Moredon, in a small concrete house with an asbestos roof and metal-framed windows which sometimes froze shut in winter.

Pete has a crescent-shaped scar on the ball of his right thumb, the legacy of a pane breaking as he tried to force it open.

He left Moredon Secondary Modern at 15 and initially worked in a photography and chemist’s shop.

Later, still in his teens and looking for something new, he was cycling to the labour exchange when he inadvertently crossed a zebra crossing at the wrong time. He was ordered to stop by a passing police officer who was so impressed with his attitude that he recommended the young man to Barrington Tailors, which was based in the town centre premises now occupied by Ann Summers.

When Pete began working in the menswear business, it was a different fashion world.

“There was a mode called Teddy Boy Mode. They had a velvet collar and the back of the jacket was what we call a full drape. It came from Jamaica – in those days the fashion over in Jamaica was what they called a Zoot Suit," he said.

"A Zoot Suit was very, very big at the shoulder, and went sloping down each side, quite loose.”

Pete has seen every fashion come and go in the years since, including the Italian style favoured by Mods in the 1960s, the five-inch lapels and 23-inch flares of the early 1970s and the slick styles of the following decade.

He has countless stories to tell, but perhaps the most poignant dates from only a few years ago, when an elderly but sprightly man came into the shop and ordered a stack of top-quality garments for himself.

He told Pete: “If I don’t have it now I’ll never experience it.”

Pete worked in various shops over the years, climbing the career ladder. In the early 1970s he and his wife, a skilled needleworker who made clothes for her husband and children, began a successful business altering clothes for many menswear shops across the Swindon area.

“It got around the town. In the end I had eight shops that I used to go around in the evening at five-ish, pick up all the tailoring requirements, take them at night, get the kids to bed, get the coffee table out and put the machine on the coffee table.

“We sewed until about two o’clock in the morning sometimes, to get them all back the next morning.”

Jensons of Gorse Hill opened in 1979 in what had been a shoe shop, following a successful management stint at a shop in Cirencester. The name is a play on: “Gentlemen and their sons.”

Fewer people wear suits casually these days, and much of the shop’s current trade is in suits for work and weddings. School proms are also a useful source of business.

There’s no accounting got future trends, however; Pete remembers a mini-surge in demand for suits following the election of the well-dressed Barack Obama.

Pete plans to spend some of his extra free time helping various community groups. His reason for retiring after six decades in the workforce is simple: “I’m 75 next week and I don’t want to die in the shop. I want to go not owing any money.

“I plan to learn how to retire. You’ve always got in the back of your mind: ‘How’s the shop doing?’.”