Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page

Shoetrade Snippets

Wellingborough & Kettering News 21/06/1889, transcribed by Peter Brown

The Shoe Trade – In an article on the wholesale shoe trade in Northamptonshire a writer to the Leather Trades Circular and Review makes the following observation as to Rushden:- The trade of the villages - or as they are more popularly known “foreign parts” – is of a slightly different character to that of the town. The villages produce a heavier and a commoner boot. Take for instance Rushden, where a really good article is produced, but not quite so well finished perhaps as the town made, still it is a good wearing boot, serviceable and of good appearance. Few places have made the headway that this once little village has. It stands prominent above all others in its go-ahead qualities, not only in business, but in any class of amusement. It is the champion as far as cricket and football are concerned, and its bands and musical society are the best in the county. There is much low-class stuff produced in many of the villages, that is a snare and a delusion to the wearers; this however, is a matter for them, as a distinct demand is certain to find producers. We would like to see the public patronise a good article. The following paragraph culled from another portion of the article, is evidently “hitting at” a certain Rushden incident, and may be thoughtfully considered by Rushden members of the craft:- “Shoe manufacturers are far ahead of tanners and curriers in the prosecution of their industry, and well for us that they should be, for we can ill afford to lose our trade. Trades Union tyranny invariably tends to develop machinery, and thus to depreciate hand labour. There is no denying this and it would be well for the Trade Unionist if he would keep this constantly in mind, and not be led away by the plausible ‘delegate.’ We have known of cases where the men have had their attention called to the mansions of the manufacturers, with the explanation that it represented the sinew and muscle of the working man, entirely forgetting the fact that that there is such a thing as brains as well as muscle, and that but for the brains there would be no need for the muscle.”

Wellingborough & Kettering News 13/09/1889, transcribed by Peter Brown

Trade—Although the present delightful summer weather is adverse to an early autumn trade, orders appear to be fairly plentiful, and, judging from the activity displayed, most of the Rushden manufacturers are fairly well supplied with orders. In the export departments the output is apparently larger than ever, which is a source of considerable satisfaction. Messrs. Cave & Sons' commodious factory is now nearing completion, and is to be the first factory in Northamptonshire illuminated by the electric light.—Shoe and Leather Record

Rushden Echo, 10th November 1899, transcribed by Kay Collins

Presentation—This evening Mr Jenkins, head-master of the Newton-road Schools, has a pleasing function to perform in connection with the boot and shoe class. The students of this class, to show their appreciation of the services of Mr Swaysland, their instructor, have subscribed for a present, and Mr Jenkins has been asked to hand it to Mr Swaysland at the class. Taking into account the great success of the Rushden students last season, the recognition of their instructor’s work is thoroughly deserved.

Rushden Echo, 16th March 1900, transcribed by Kay Collins

A New Club—to be called the Rushden Town Band Working Men’s Club and Institute has been formed, and the factory formerly occupied by Mr Eli Robinson in Manton-road, has been taken for the purpose, forming very convenient premises. The bottom floor consists of a bar, a portion being partitioned off as a skittle room.

Rushden Echo, 31st August 1900, transcribed by Kay Collins

The Staple Trade at Rushden is a trifle better, Army orders having more to do with this than the home trade.

09 May 1902 - Northampton Mercury

"Hand-Sewn" Boots
At Nottingham Guildhall - A summons by Mr. F. Acton and Mr. E. Jardine under the Merchandise Marks Act, 1887, against Thomas J. Clarke, boot manufacturer, of Hounds-gate, Nottingham, and Rushden. The first alleged that the defendant supplied a false trade description to pair of boots sold by him on January 24th, the second charged him with causing it to be applied, and the third was for selling boots under an alleged false trade description.
[the boots were only partly hand sewn – and several shoe manufacturers deposed that the trade recognized such boots as hand-sewn. The magistrates thought there was no case to answer, but eventually decided that the case warranted a fine of £20 but they would reduce it to £5]

Wellingborough News, 29th August 1902, transcribed by Kay Collins

The "Boot and Shoe Trades Journal" says there is soon to be a little more competition in the machinery world. A company has been formed to exploit the successful welting and stitching plant of Messrs. Cave and Sons, of Rushden. The persons connected with the new venture, which we may say is to supply a welting plant free from royalty, are of a substantial and business-like character. The prime movers are Mr. George White, M.P. (of Hewlett and White, Norwich), Mr. G. T. Hawkins (Northampton), Mr. Faire (Smith, Faire, Leicester), Mr. T. Bird, (of Kettering), and Messrs. Cave and Sons (of Rushden). [Standard Rotary Machine Co.]

Rushden Echo, May 1907, transcribed by Greville Watson

Patent Granted. Boots etc.
A A Wadsworth, 137 Queen Street, and F Shortland, Portland House, both of Rushden.
This invention relates to means for feeding and guiding the work in a machine for driving fasteners into the soles of boots and shoes. The work is fed forwards by a reciprocating foot, preferably provided with teeth or ratchet form, the foot being adjustably connected to an arm suspended by means of a slot from a stud. The foot is reciprocated in the channel of the sole by means of a lever on the arm of the shaft, which is oscillated by toothed segments, the lever is so arranged that the pressure of the foot is greater during its forward than backward movement. Owing to the slot connection of the arm and the stud the arm has a play which is limited by a screw screwing into the slot; in consequence of this play the foot reciprocates at a practically constant level, so that the foot remains in the channel and so guides the work, which is supported on the usual horn. This ensures that the fasteners are inserted in a corrrect position.

Rushden Echo, 12th February 1909, transcribed by Kay Collins

A Remarkable Offer—We notice that Messrs. Cox & Co., of Rushden, are making a special offer to manufacturers putting in their latest Britannia slugging machine. They give two or three months’ free trial, and will make a present of the machine to any manufacturer who can find one to beat it, royalty or non-royalty. The firm have already 16 Britannia sluggers running in Rushden and Higham Ferrers alone, and every one of them giving entire satisfaction.

Rushden Echo, 10th December 1915, transcribed by Kay Collins

Gold medal—It is with gratification that we record the fact that the gold medal, offered by the “Boot and Shoe Trades Journal” for the best model of a trench boot, has been won by a Rushden man—Mr. E. J. Miller, son of Mr. Jeffrey Miller, of 53 Queen-street, Rushden. Mr. E. J. Miller is now residing at Burton Latimer.

Rushden Echo, 12th July 1918, transcribed by Kay Collins

Leather Supplies—Most of the boot manufacturers in this district have now received certificates for Army and war-time leathers for the quarter July-September. Some free bends have been released by the Department for civilian purposes. There are also a few chrome bends under 9-iron in substance released for civilian footwear.

Rushden Echo, 19th July 1918

DEATH – Mr. Geo. Watkin, one of the fast-disappearing hand-sewn shoemakers, of Rushden, died recently, at the age of 76.  He was a native of Irchester, and came to live at Rushden seven years ago.

The Rushden Echo, 15th April 1966, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Why Go To Work On This Day?

Rushden is a town noted for its religious nonconformity and feelings, but take religion and, in particular, Good Friday, to the factory floor and you will find there is a general desire to work on this annual commemoration day and have a holiday on Easter Tuesday instead.

There are factories in Rushden which refuse to work on Good Friday, but why is it that the majority of Rushden’s shoemakers do not want a holiday on Good Friday, one of the most important days of Christian commemoration?


Agreements between the National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives and the manufacturers provide for a certain amount of elasticity in the days taken for Easter holidays. If as is generally the case Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are fixed as holidays, people who object on religious grounds to working on Good Friday may have the day off – without pay.

Easter Tuesday
Rushden High Street on Tuesday, comparatively quiet compared to the bustle of Good Friday
This opting for Tuesday off in preference to Good Friday seems to spring from a general feeling among operatives.

It is difficult to say why Good Friday is out as far as a day off is concerned, said union secretary, Mr. F. Clapham. He suggested it might be that there is more to do on Tuesdays.

Rushden Council of Churches has made consistent representations to the union, as the operatives’ representative body, in attempts to influence a more openly Christian attitude. It does not seem to have succeeded.

The firm of Charles Horrell, Shoemakers, Ltd, Moor Road, Rushden, is one of those which will always observe Good Friday with a holiday.

Its managing director, Mr. John Horrell, is adamant about this. “We have always given Good Friday as a holiday and will continue to do so,” he said.

This year he instituted a ballot and as almost all the women at the factory wanted Tuesday off as well, the men were given the extra day.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the Shoe Trade index
Click here to e-mail us