|About the year 1898, William Campion and his brother-in-law, William Ashford, began manufacturing heels at their home in Wymington. They had previously been working in a shoe factory, making and attaching heels, so once having learnt the technique of heel manufacture, they realised they could turn this into a profitable small business. The two men and their wives were the only employees in the early days, manufacturing mens, youths and boys shoe heels; however, as the business grew more profitable, more women were employed.
In 1908, the firm moved into new factory premises in Newton Road, Rushden and within a few years had become Britain's most modern heel factory, installing new machinery from the British United Shoe Machinery Company. The premises were enlarged three times to cope with the firm's orders, which came from all over Britain. Northamptonshire shoe factories provided an important market for heels, which were transported around the county by horse-drawn trolley carriage.
During World War I, the firm turn all of its production to making heels for the British and Allied Armies. Indeed, business was thriving. Unfortunately the 1920's trade depression led to Ashford and Campion accumulating several bad debts and, in 1922, the brothers decided to sell the factory, pay off their debts and go into semi-retirement to Dover. The factory was sold to John White Footwear Limited.
In 1924, Mr Ashford and Mr Campion returned to the county, to Higham Ferrers and opened a new factory in Westfields Terrace, with William Campion's eldest son, W E Campion joining the business in 1925.
By 1928, the business was too small to be run by two families so a coin was tossed to decide whether the Ashfords or the Campions should keep the business. The Campion family won the toss and, by 1933, William Ashford had left the firm, later to become a World Ward II Government Official. The business retained the name of Ashford and Campion.
In 1934, the firm became a Limited Private Company and Mr Campion's younger son, J R Campion, joined the business in 1938. J R Campion having joined the Royal Artillery. Again all production went into supplying the Army with heels. When the war ended, William Campion retired, his sons buying the company from him in 1946.
After the war an average of 60,000 pair of heels were produced by the company each week, which supplied shoe factories all over Britain and exported to Ireland and Scandinavia; men’s, youths’ and boys’ heels remaining the firm's specialisation. The company also owned a sole producing factory in Sartoris Road, Rushden. These soles were sent to the Higham Ferrers factory, where all-in-one sole and heels were produced. Two main heel types were made by Westfields Terrace - the leather and composite board heels, built up in layers and plastic heels, made by the firm's four large injection moulders. About 80 people were employed in the 1970s, between the two factories, with Mr J R Campion as Company Chairman, his brother W E Campion having retired in 1977.