|The following interesting note is taken from a copy of “The Shoe Manufacturers’ Monthly,” and is of special interest to this locality.
“A hundred years ago Rushden was a mere agricultural parish neighbouring the small corporate town of Higham Ferrers. There was some boot and shoe manufacture at Higham, but none at Rushden. A lad named Sharp, who was apprenticed to an Itchen shoemaker about this time, conceived the idea of making shoes at Rushden, where labour was very cheap, and selling them in London. He bought a few hides from local butchers, tanned them and dressed them, got the boots made up in the village and himself took them up in a lumbering wagon, to London.”
The note adds that Sharp was at any rate a pioneer of the local industry, and that Rushden is now among the first half dozen shoe manufacturing centres of the country, 48 firms being enumerated in the Shoeman’s Guide, while the local branch of the Union is the largest in the country.
Reference is also made to the fact that Rushden has outgrown the neighbouring borough (with all respect, there is little doubt about that!) but the note also stresses the considerable difficulties in connection with the acquisition of land as the reason for Higham’s less rapid development.
Never mind, all humour to the late Mr Sharp! He may have had a sharp eye for business, but he did Rushden a good turn and we will remember him for that.
Note: This would be Daniel Sharpe