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 – Red or Dead

Red or Dead

In 1982 Wayne Hemingway and his wife rented a stall on Camden Market selling second-hand clothes and footwear. Their selling was a success and within a year they had expanded to 16 stalls to be followed by a string of shops. At first they sold 1950s and 60s canvas shoes and Dr Martens.

In 1986 Red or Dead launched their first original footwear range. This included the ‘Watch Shoe’ which was made popular by the boy band Bros. In 1989 they produced their ‘Space Baby’ range.

Red or Dead Space Baby Shoe

Red or Dead Space Baby Shoe

Red or Dead is a reference to Wayne Hemmingway’s ancestry. He is the son of Billy Two Rivers, a Mohawk Indian chief who became heavy weight champion of the world in the 1950s.

Shoe of the Month-Rollermania


The Bay City Rollers were a Scottish pop-rock band from the 60s and 70s. With their unforgettable haircuts, good looks and half-mast tartan trousers they had a strong following among teenage girls. Rollermania peaked in the mid-70s with a stream of top hits including the classics Remember (Sha-la-la), Keep on Dancing, Bye Bye Baby, Shang-a-Lang and Summer Love Sensations.

Bay City Rollers Shoes

Bay City Rollers Shoes

The band made an impact on teen fashion. Fans supported them wearing tartan scarves, homemade tartan trousers and even Bay City Roller inspired shoes. Designed by Barrie K, these shoes were made in 1975.


Shoe of the Month – Paduka


This style of shoe is called a Paduka. It is made from wood and ivory and dates to the mid nineteenth century. Padukas are India’s oldest footwear. Their open design is suited to the climate, and they keep the sole raised above the sun-baked ground.

Within the Hindu religion, cows are considered holy animals and therefore footwear made of cow leather was not desirable. Footwear worn by holy people or in holy spaces was made out of wood, ivory, metal and sometimes camel leather. Holy men tended to wear very simple wooden padukas, whilst those worn by well-off worshippers tended to be more elaborate. Padukas can be easily removed before entering a sacred space like a temple.



The Hindu deities Krishna and Rama are often depicted wearing Padukas

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 with faces on them hold evil spirits at bay. These faces fool the spirits into thinking that the child is a powerful tiger and so cannot be harmed. The faces not only repel evil spirits, but also provide the wearer with greater strength and protection. These tiger shoes date to 1900.

Tiger Shoes

Tiger Shoes

The Chinese New Year is the longest and most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. In 2017 the Chinese year starts on 28 January and it is the year of the Rooster

Shoe of the Month-The Co-respondent

The Co-respondent

The style of having white shoes with starkly contrasting black or brown leather first became popular in the 1860s as sportswear, especially for cricket and boating, but these bore little resemblance to the style that became popular from the 1920s onwards and are known as co-respondents.

There are several suggestions as to how this style came to be called the Co-respondent. Divorce was something of a rarity in the 1920s and it was suggested that only a man of such dubious manner, taste and character as to appear in court as the co-respondent in a divorce case would wear such flashy footwear!



Shoe of the Month – Starlight Sparkle

Starlight Sparkle

Be a glamour puss this Christmas and twinkle those toes with this delightful pair of gold Lurex court shoes with a decorative buckle tab.

These shoes were worn by local woman Rosemary Jarrett and were donated to the collection by her daughter.

The shoes were manufactured by Saxone and would have been perfect for a festive occasion. They were sold under the brand name ‘Starlight Room’ in the 1960s and 1970s.

Starlight Room Court Shoe

Starlight Room Court Shoe

Happy Christmas and a Shoe-perb New Year from everyone at Northampton Museum & Art Gallery!


Shoe of the Month – A Tale to Tell

A Tale to Tell

These men’s black leather Oxford shoes seem quite ordinary, but if they could speak they could tell many stories.

The shoes were initially purchased by Wilfrid Wright, the father of David Wright who donated the shoes to our collection. On leaving the army after World War One, Wilfrid Wright studied as a chartered accountant and qualified in 1923, at which time he probably purchased the shoes to wear with his morning suit and dinner jacket at formal functions. He wore them at the Palace of Westminster in 1925 when he was invited to accompany a member of his former regiment who won a Victoria Cross. He also wore them on his wedding day on 21 June 1928 when he married Miss Gladys Still in London

Mr Wright’s son often borrowed his father’s shoes in his teens to wear at formal dinners. He finally inherited them on his father’s death in 1958. Due to the donor’s career they have been worn at Buckingham Palace, the Palace of Westminster, Mansion House, Guildhall and 33 of the 39 Livery Halls in London. They have been worn in South Africa and Scotland. They have also been worn at St Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Cathedral and at many family and friend’s weddings, funerals and christenings. David Wright also wore them at his wedding in 1971.

Oxford Shoes

Oxford Shoes

David Wright gave up wearing the shoes a couple of years ago as they are rather too narrow now to be worn comfortably, but just imagine how many miles they have travelled in 85 years of working life. If only shoes were made for talking as well as walking!