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Article by Sue Comont based on information from “Growth of Post School Education and Technical Training in Northamptonshire, Part 1 The Boot and Shoe Trade” by D. M. Brooks, August 1967. Notes for an M.Ed. Thesis 

A Brief History of Rushden Boot and Shoe School
Photo of the Rushden Boot and Shoe School in it's early days
Photo of the staff of the Rushden Boot and Shoe School in the early days

Boot & Shoe School - mainpage

1926 A Boot and Shoe School in Rushden was first suggested, with a substantial contribution being required from the industry.
Articles of agreement for the conversion of an existing factory to the Boot and Shoe School, 23 February 1928
Articles of agreement for the conversion of an existing factory to the Boot and Shoe School, 23 February 1928

1927 a small factory and land became available on the corner of Rectory Road and Victoria Road. The contract to convert the existing factory into the County Boot and Shoe School was awarded to William Packwood and William Crosby Packwood, trading as Messrs W. Packwood and Son, of 80 Newton Road, Rushden. The cost of the conversion was £869.

l-r: E Denton, C W Clatrke, F Sharwood,
Sir Capell Brooke, Lord Eustace Percy, Owen Parker
Saturday 6 October 1928 the school was opened by Lord Eustace Percy MP, President of the Board of Education. The cost was £4,850, £1,250 being donated by the Rushden and District Boot Manufacturer’s Association as well as many other gifts and loans from the industry. The supervising instructor was Mr W. Goode at £60 per annum and his teaching salary. There were 200 students. During the first year the school received several visits from interested groups and held an exhibition of work.

1929 it was reported in the Rushden Echo and Argus that boot technical institutes for girls are under serious consideration by the County Education Authority.

1930 the standard of work had improved and the finished shoes were easily saleable. The numbers were steady at c160 and the school wanted to add a science laboratory to give a balanced course of study.

1932 an honours course was introduced and the year also saw a very satisfactory general inspection, a series of lectures, exhibition of students work and a course leading to various grades of the county council exam system.

1933  a course for girls was introduced which boosted the numbers. This course was the first of its kind and was specifically for training would-be closing supervisors. Originally for one year only, it proved so successful that a second year was added in 1934. Numbers by now were c180.

1936 approval was granted for an extension

1937 a new class was started to train girls in shoe room work but this proved unsucessful. However, a mixed class for shoe room work the folllowing year was well supported.

14 October 1938 the extensions were opened by Mr A. E. Elkington, Chairman of the Boot and Shoe Sub-committee. The cost was £5,690, more than the original cost of the school.

1939 – 1945 wartime meant daytime activities were curtailed but c70 students attended evening classes and a new leather science class was introduced in 1942, proving quite popular.

1946 Mr G. L. Miller was appointed supervising instructor. The student body was made up of 156 ex-servicemen evening students, 34 rehabilitative daytime students doing 1½ days per week and 58 part time day release boys. The post – honours courses were re-established and the mixed shoe room classes restarted. Numbers rose to c200.

1951 there were 236 students.

14 May 1973, the minutes of the Further Education Committee of Northamptonshire County Council recorded that the Governors of the Rushden Boot and Shoe Technical College had accepted the committee’s proposal that from the beginning of the 1973 - 1974 session boot and shoe instruction should become part of the Wellingborough Technical College, with the Rushden College forming an annexe of that college and the Rushden Governors continuing as an advisory committee.

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