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Shoemaking heritage

Northampton is famous for its high-class shoes and boots, and although manufacturing is nowhere near on the same scale it once was, its stock remains high. The town is still home to many worldwide brands of boots and shoes, among them Church’s, Tricker’s, Jeffery-West, Crockett and Jones, and Edward Green.

Take a wander along Jermyn Street in London, and even in shopping malls as far afield as Hong Kong, and stylish, expensive footwear with a Northampton stamp is there for all to see.

Cyndi Lauper’s musical Kinky Boots recently returned to its rightful home in Northampton. The original hit film was based and shot in Northampton as it is the setting for many events of the Broadway musical. Much of the filming took place at the Tricker’s factory on St Michael’s Road.

There are a good number of factory shoe shops in Northampton offering greatly reduced prices for quality products, including the aforementioned Tricker’s, Crockett and Jones - favoured by the Prince of Wales - in Perry Street, Edward Green and Jeffery-West on Cliftonville Road and the Prada-owned Church’s, on St James’ Road.

If you have a little time to spare, why not take a walk around Northampton’s Boot and Shoe Quarter, which can be found immediately to the north and east of the town centre. This area has the highest density of former and current boot and shoe factories and the greatest survival of buildings associated with the industry, including a maze-like network of streets of Victorian terraced houses, which were built to house the factory workers.

The oldest surviving buildings are grouped around the area to the west of Overstone Road, where the now abandoned Hawkin’s factory looms large, and the area to the south of Abington Square.

Eight of the factories formerly connected with the shoe or leather trades are listed buildings and many have been converted into stylish apartments and accommodation, and even a pub - the popular Charles Bradlaugh on Earl Street, named after the English political activist and atheist who was also Northampton’s Liberal MP in the late 1800s.

There are many other well-known boot and shoe factories beyond the Borough, including Dr Martens in Wollaston, Grenson in Rushden, Loake in Kettering, Joseph Cheaney in Desborough and Barker in Earls Barton.

Northamptonshire boot and shoe shops