About Northampton Museums

Home of the largest collection of shoes! Collections also include art, costume, military history, social history, archaeology and natural sciences

Shoe of the Month-Summer Sandals

Summer Sandals

A sandal is a style that has a sole with straps, thongs or a toe knob to hold it on the foot. They are recognised as the earliest form of footwear. Early examples were relatively simple creations made from the natural materials available. Recycling materials is a great way of producing hardwearing and cheap shoes. Recycling discarded rubber tyres is common in many countries including India and Ethiopia. As has been often said ‘old truck tyres never die, they just get turned into sandals.’

This pair of rubber toe thong style sandals consist of straps and a toe loop to help keep them on the foot. The tyre tread is still visable on the sole. They were purchased in 1992 from a roadside stall in Nirona, Gujarat, India for 7 rupees.

Summer Sandals

Summer Sandals

Shoe of the Month-Anyone for Tennis?

Anyone for Tennis?

Although Wimbledon is cancelled this year, we can take a nostalgic walk down memory lane with this pair of Dunlop Green Flash trainers. Today Dunlop are famous for making tyres but had been making rubber soled shoes for sport from the 1870s. From the 1930s they were making tennis shoes. British World No. 1 tennis player Fred Perry wore Dunlop tennis shoes and won the Wimbledon men’s title three times in succession between 1934 and 1936. The next British player to win Wimbledon was Andy Murray in 2013. This pair are from the 1970s.

Dunlop Tennis Shoe

Dunlop Tennis Shoe


Dunlop Tennis Shoes

Dunlop Tennis Shoes

Shoe of the Month-VE Day

VE Day

Seventy-five years ago, on 8 May 1945 Britain celebrated Victory in Europe

As they had done during World War One, Northamptonshire’s shoe factories during the Second World War were dedicated to manufacturing military footwear on a grand scale and for a wide range of military situations.

The war was not just fought on land and at sea, but also in arctic and tropical conditions, beneath the sea and in the desert. Women were also conscripted into roles that included non-combative jobs in the military. From 1941, Northamptonshire factories made shoes and boots for the WRENS (Women’s Royal Naval Service) and ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service),

Princess Elizabeth joined the ATS in February 1945 at the age of nineteen and reached the rank of junior commander. Northampton Museum has a replica of the brown leather lace-up shoes made for her as a 2nd subaltern in the ATS by Dawn Shoes, Northampton

Shoe of the Month-Shoe Designs

Shoe Designs

We have lots of hand painted or hand sketched shoe designs in the shoe collection.

Inspiration for shoe designs can come from anywhere. Shoe designers can combine inspiring influences with creativity, skills, passion, knowledge and sometimes improvisation to create their shoes. Designers can have very different approaches to the design process.

These designs are by Eunice Wilson a British shoe designer in the 1950s to 1970s who designed for companies such as such as Lotus Ltd., Dolcis, and C.J. Clark. She was also a consultant and fashion forecaster to shoe companies in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand

Shoe Designs

Shoe Designs

Shoe of the Month-Slippers


The nineteenth century fashion for boots particularly for outdoor wear meant etiquette required a change of shoe once indoors. For both men and women, the indoor slipper became popular.

For men the basic style was a tabbed fronted slip on shoe often worked in a Berlin wool design, tapestry or kelim tapestry weave. This style eventually became known as the Albert slipper, in which the vamp extended upwards to form a tongue resting on the foots instep. The style has remained a classic. Today the Albert slipper is usually made from black velvet with a quilted lining and leather sole.

These slippers sport a wool cross stitch design of stars and circles and are dated 1870-90s.




Shoe of the Month: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day

Emma Hope designed this mule. Made of red velvet, the front section of the shoe, known as the vamp, is decorated with a gold thread diamond design with glass beads. An applique design in gold and cream leather of two cupids is either side of a large gold heart. The embroidery was by Karen Spurgin, 1987-94.

Emma Hope’s tagline is ‘Regalia for Feet’ and anyone celebrating Valentine’s day would surely have a great time in such a romantic design.

Emma Hope Red Velvet Mule

Emma Hope Red Velvet Mule


Emma Hope Red Velvet Mule

Emma Hope Red Velvet Mule

Shoe of the Month-Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year

Among some Chinese people particularly in Southern China it is believed that children wearing shoes and hats with faces on them can hold evil spirits at bay. These fierce faces fool the spirits into thinking that that the child is a powerful tiger or dragon and so cannot be harmed. The faces not only repel evil spirits, but also provide the wearer with greater strength and protection.

These shoes were brought back from China in 2012. They were collected by two third year Footwear Department bursary students Natalie and Jessica from the University of Northampton. Their travel bursary came from The Worshipful Company of Cordwainers.

Chinese Shoes

Chinese Shoes

The Stories of the Soldiers The Military Galleries Introductory Case- Abington Park Museum

The Stories of the Soldiers
The Military Galleries Introductory Case- Abington Park Museum

Louise Hannam-Jones
History Curator at Northampton Museums and Art Gallery

Over the next few months we will be revealing the stories of the soldiers in our new Military Galleries Introductory Case at Abington Park Museum. Each month will highlight a different soldier on our blog. After reading about the individuals who served in the Northamptonshire Regiment and Northamptonshire Yeomanry, visit the case at Abington Park Museum to see their medals in person.

Lieutenant Colonel Lord George Scott

The Northamptonshire Yeomanry, The 1st and 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry

8th July 1911 – 8th June 1999

Image Courtesy of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry Association Benevolent Fund

1939 – 1945 Star – awarded for service during the Second World War.

France and Germany Star 1944 – 1945– awarded for service in North West Europe during 1944 – 1945.

Defence Medal 1939 – 1945 – awarded for service during the Second World War.

War Medal (MID) 1939 – 1945 – awarded for a minimum of 28 days service during the Second World War with Oakleaf emblem for those mentioned in dispatches.

1935 Jubilee Medal – awarded to commemorate the 25th year of the reign of George V.

Coronation Medal 1953 – awarded to commemorate the Coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.

Netherlands Bronze Cross – awarded for gallantry during service in the Netherlands.

Lord George Scott (Lord George Francis John Montagu Douglas Scott), son of the 7th Duke of Buccleuch was the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Northamptonshire Yeomanry in 1944 and the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry in 1945 – 1946 and 1947 – 1951.

George led the Northamptonshire Yeomanry in the Rhine Crossings, a series of combined attacks by Allied forces against Nazi Germany at the closing stages of the Second World War. One of the attacks that he instructed was ‘Operation Plunder’ which involved operating the Buffaloes – armoured amphibious vehicles to carry troops and equipment across the River Rhine whilst under enemy fire.

Following the war, the Northamptonshire Yeomanry were disbanded in October 1946 and George returned to his Manor House at Weekley, part of the Boughton Estate. Here he planted a yew tree shaped into the White Horse of Hanover- the emblem of the Northamptonshire Yeomanry’s cap badge. The tree can still be seen today.
In 1947 George re-formed the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry as a Territorial Army regiment. He resigned in May 1951 but continued to be involved with the Northamptonshire Yeomanry Association.

Shoe of the Month – Happy Christmas

Shoe of the Month – Happy Christmas

These small carved wooden clogs have painted uppers with lettering that reads: A Merry X-Mas with an image of two candles and a Christmas tree.

These clogs are very special. They were given to the donor’s father by a Dutch family who befriended him during the Second World War. He was in the Army and travelled through France, Holland, Germany and Belgium between 1944–1945.

Wishing everyone a happy and peaceful festive season.


Shoe of the Month – Cobbler’s foot

Shoe of the Month – Cobbler’s foot

This three-legged iron cobbler’s foot was an essential part of a cobbler’s kit and also for home repairing. It consists of three iron feet on which a different size boot or shoe can be held with the sole upturned, so it can be repaired, or nails can be hammered in.

A cobbler mends shoes. A shoemaker makes shoes. It has always been considered insulting to call a shoemaker a cobbler. So, you should never get the two mixed up – even though a shoemaker often mends shoes as well.

Cobblers Last

Cobblers Last