Shoe of the Month-Safety Boots

Safety Boots

These rather amazing thigh length leather boots were found at an Oxfordshire rubbish tip and donated to the museum in the 1960s. They have very solid soles with iron nails and leather loops at the top to help the wearer pull them on. The leather has dried and stiffened into creases echoing their wearer’s gait.

We know very little about them but they might have been sewer boots from the late nineteenth century. Or some other kind of protective/safety boots. They are a bit of a mystery.

Safety Boots

Safety Boots

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Shoe of the Month – Fit for a Duke

Fit for a Duke

Wellington boots have evolved from the original style developed during the Napoleonic Wars and named after the First Duke of Wellington. For much of the Noughties they have been synonymous with Glastonbury and Kate Moss.

The practical wellington has had a close relationship with fashion throughout its history. The close fitting boots were a key part of the ‘heroic’ uniforms of the Napoleonic era as epitomised by the elaborate uniforms of the 10th Hussars. The dress uniform was designed by the Prince Regent, later George IV, and was so impractical that they became known as ‘The Prince’s Dolls’.

Modern wellingtons were first an anti-fashion statement by those with a lifestyle to warrant them that were later adopted by the London fashion set in response to the conditions at Glastonbury. This lead to Hunter wellies in particular becoming part of the festival ‘uniform’ and having an unexpected icon within British fashion with the desirability and cache to match.

Hunter Wellies

Hunter Wellies

For more information about the Duke of Wellington’s wellingtons see this Shoe of the Month from 2015:

https://northamptonmuseums.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/shoe-of-the-month-wellingtons-waterloo/

 

Grenades

Grenades

During the First World War trench warfare encouraged the use of mortars, grenades and clubs and knives for close combat. With heavy artillery, rifles and machine guns being used in field operations, soldiers sought refuge from the bullets in the trenches. To infiltrate enemy lines high explosive shells, hand grenades and gas were used to disorientate soldiers and disrupt defences.

Here are two examples of grenades from the collections at Northampton Museums & Art Gallery:

Hand Grenade:

British Hand Grenade

British Hand Grenade

No. 27 British hand grenade (175mm)

Introduced in 1916, this grenade contained white phosphorus and had a brass housing fitted with copper detonator with 7-second delay. Lightweight, sheet metal cylinder with screw threaded tube fitted to one end and a ring fitted with a split pin.

Grenades containing white phosphorus were first introduced by the British army in 1916 and were used throughout future conflicts including the Second World War (1939–1945). The grenades produced a dense white smoke ideal to create a smokescreen to conceal military operations.

Hales Rifle Grenade:  

Hales Rifle Grenade

Hales Rifle Grenade

The Hales rifle grenade, No. 20, Mk 2.

The Hales rifle grenade is the name for several rifle grenades used by British forces during the First World War. Rifle grenades were produced in 1914 and based on a design by Frederick Marten Hale.

The grenade was attached to a rod, which was inserted into the barrel of a rifle that was pre-loaded with a blank cartridge. The soldier aimed the rifle at a high angle, removed the safety pin and fired the weapon. The fuse would ignite once fired at high speed and the grenade would explode upon impact with the ground or a solid object.

In 2018, objects like these and many more will be made available online for you to explore through a First World War digital archive. For more information on the Conflict & Community Project please click here.

Further reading:

British Library: Weapons of World War One

Shoe of the Month-It’s Not Easy Being Green!

It’s Not Easy Being Green!

These limited edition Adidas Originals Kermit the Frog trainers were part of the 2005 relaunch of Adidas’ Adicolor range. The original 1983 Adicolor range were white trainers that were sold with special quick drying pens to allow the wearer to customise their footwear. This individuality and the innovative designs created led to their cult status.

The 2005 range continues the humour and quirkiness of the concept by collaborating with a group of artists and pop culture icons, like Kermit.

Kermit the frog trainers

Kermit the frog trainers

 

 

Chalk Carvings

Chalk Carvings 

Chalk Carvings

Chalk Carvings

 

 

Chalk Carvings

Chalk Carvings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Northamptonshire regimental badges carved from chalk at Hulluch by soldiers of the 1st Battalion during the Battle of Loos in 1915. Measurements: H:6.9cm, L:11.2cm

The Battle of Loos took place in France between 25 September and 13 October and involved approximately 100,000 British soldiers. It was the first engagement where British forces used poison gas against enemy troops. The intention was to use chlorine gas against the German soldiers, but due to inadequate tools and adverse weather conditions, the operation resulted in injury to numerous British troops. The 1st Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment were prepared to advance against the enemy after the release of the gas cylinders, but were compelled to push back due to a gas cloud stalling their approach and injuring many soldiers.

The village of Hulluch was positioned close to Loos, which was an industrial area containing slag heaps and mines. The chalk for these carvings could have been sourced from the local area and created by soldiers during operations in and around Loos. Northern France contained chalk and limestone mines which allowed soldiers and civilians to record their memories and experiences of war. In the examples shown here, soldiers used the chalk to carve the Northamptonshire regimental insignia into the stone.

The crest and number ‘48’ represents the amalgamation of the 48th Northamptonshire Regiment of Foot and the 58th Rutlandshire Regiment of Foot in 1881. The Castle with the inscription ‘Gibraltar’ represents the battle honour earned by the 58th Foot in 1779–1783. The ‘Talavera’ honour was earned by the 48th Foot in 1809 during the Peninsular War.

In 2018, objects like these and many more will be made available online for you to explore through a First World War digital archive. For more information on the Conflict & Community Project please click here.

 

 

Shoe of the Month-A Pair of Grubby Old Boots?

A pair of grubby old boots?

Button Boots

Button Boots

These lovely girl’s button boots from 1890 are a little battered. They are stained, faded and have been squashed.

But underneath the scalloped button holes is a hint of their original beauty.

When new the kid leather of these boots would have been a bright blue with contrasting white glass buttons and pink satin lining. The leather has now faded to dirty cream but the elegant shape of the boots with their rounded square toes, low covered Louis heels and shaped top remains.

Happy New Year from everyone at Northampton Museums and all the best for 2018!

 

Embroidered Silk Postcards

Embroidered Silk Postcards

Embroidered silk postcards were popular items for British soldiers to send home during the First World War. These precious and expensive gifts represented skilled local craftsmanship and contained intricate details and were often sent home for a special occasion such as a birthday or Christmas. Designs varied considerably but usually the postcards featured a patriotic or personal theme and contained bright colours.

Embroidered Silk Postcards

Embroidered Silk Postcards

Embroidered silk postcards, 1914-1915

Northampton Museum holds a framed example of these postcards. The writing in the frame reads ‘Embroidered silk postcards made in Paris during the 1914-18 war. Presented by Mrs D.H. Simmonds in memory of her husband’. There are three cards in this frame: two silk and one smaller paper card. The first silk postcard includes an embroidered badge of the Northamptonshire Imperial Yeomanry and the second silk card has a Christmas theme with holly and three flags representing the allied powers: Russia, Italy and Great Britain. The smaller paper card reads ‘To bring you Luck’.

Many of these silk postcards were produced by civilians in France and Belgium and the popularity with British soldiers supported the craft industry and the local economy in some of the smaller towns and villages.

Many of the silk designs would have been standardised and drafted by a professional. The wording, like ‘Christmas’, would have been swapped according to the occasion and designed to fit within the pre-made card frames to allow them to be posted. The message would then have been written on the back of the card.

The design would have been transferred to silk organdie and then stitched with silk floss. The technique is called ‘silk shading’ and predominately uses satin stitch and long and short stitch. These items would have been stitched by a competent embroiderer, most likely using a hoop and then sold to soldiers to send home.

In 2018, objects like these and many more will be made available online for you to explore through a First World War digital archive. For more information on the Conflict & Community Project please click here.

Further information:

Imperial War Museum: Embroidered Silk Postcards