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.