28 January 2014

A new website has been launched that for the first time provides an overview of Northamptonshire’s recent boot and shoe heritage by telling the story of decline and ongoing renaissance of the county’s internationally renowned and thriving footwear industry.

About the website

The website presents the story of a local industry and the lives of its workers in the county from c. 1850 to the present day including current manufacturers such as Cheaneys, Loake, Grenson, George Cox, Church's and Jeffrey West to name but a few.

Visitors to the website can search for information across many of the county's towns and villages, view interviews with current and former shoe-makers and factory workers, learn about the designs and techniques involved and find out more about some of the industry’s celebrity connections to royalty, explorers, rock stars and even Darth Vadar.

School learning packs about the industry are available to download and the public are also invited to contribute their own photos, memories, information or stories about the boot and shoe industry in Northamptonshire.

Richard Kottler, Chief Executive of the British Footwear Association based in Wellingborough said:
"Despite the global recession, the UK footwear industry, which is worth over £6bn per annum in total sales, remains a very substantial asset. The Northamptonshire manufacturers continue to lead the way in both domestic and international sales, experiencing growth of between 7 and 10% over the last two years with international exports continuing to increase as a percentage of their total sales - now about 60%. Many of them are expanding production, actively recruiting new staff and are constantly moving into new markets, especially in China and other parts of the Far East. This website provides a fantastic insight into the industry which is a very special part of Northamptonshire’s proud heritage, and should be applauded."

Councillor Heather Smith, Deputy Leader of Northamptonshire County Council said:
"This is an excellent website and resource that explores our unique footwear heritage and highlights the ongoing economic and cultural importance of the sector to Northamptonshire, and I urge all members of the public and our local schools to take a look and contribute where possible."

Who created the website?

The website was created by Northamptonshire County Council and partners with contributions from Kettering Museum, Dr Martens and volunteers from Desborough Heritage Centre, Long Buckby Museum, Daventry Museum, Earls Barton Museum and Wollaston Museum, and is a direct legacy of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad project GLOBAL FOOTPRINT, which celebrated the county’s defining creative economy through a mix of contemporary art commissions and ‘living’ heritage events. The project received national lottery funding from Arts Council England, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Legacy Trust UK.

The website address is www.northamptonshirebootandshoe.org.uk