A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mecca & The Sole Brother (Part II): A Trip to Northampton (The Shoe Museum)

           As I mentioned in Part One, many other bloggers have posted excellent tours of the actual work spaces at places like Gaziano & Girling or Edward Green. As I don't think I can add much to what is already out there in the blogosphere regarding the actual shoe-making process, I thought I'd focus on the factory shops and the shoe museum if only because (1) no one ever minds seeing more photos of the shoes for sale at the factories and (2) I have yet to see anyone actually post recommendations of and photos from the shoe exhibit.


          As I learned while touring the shoe exhibit, prior to World War II the town of Northampton was home to over 200 shoe factories. By the 1950's it was down to around 100. Today, there are less than 10 shoe factories remaining in Northampton - including John Lobb, Edward Green, Crockett &Jones, Tricker's, and Church's.

          To put it simply, The Northampton Museum & Art Gallery does a magnificent job of preserving and presenting the town's illustrious history as the shoe-making capital of the world. Yes, I know what you're thinking: an entire exhibit dedicated to the history of shoe making in Northampton? This would scare the bejeezus out of most sane folk. But really, its a phenomenal experience and well-worth putting time aside on your trip to stop in. There isn't much more to say about it, so I'll just let the pics do the talking . . .

A flag with an emblem representing the shoemakers' local:

One of the displays highlighting the variety of shoes produced in Northampton:

Full Brogue by John Mudd (?)

Black & White Buckskin Derby, Padmore & Kent, 1934

Another exhibit with a variety of shoes being displayed:

Intricate artwork on the sole of the shoe:

McAfee Golf Shoes, Pollard & Son, 1900-1920

Tan Loafer, Lotus, 1936

The "demobilisation shoe" issued to British troops upon discharge from the British army at the end of WWII.

I could go on and on, but I'll leave something for like-minded pilgrims who decide to make the journey. Whenever you go, be sure to set aside some time to experience the history of Northampton.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Dan,

    I'm writing a story for a magazine about men's shoes and would love to talk to you about Northampton. If your interested, pls email me: kristen (dot) bellstrom (at) dowjones (dot) com