Shoe of the Month-Summer Holiday on a Shoe?

Summer Holiday on a Shoe?

Made in California, in 1990, by Two Left Feet these shoes take Carmen Miranda’s signature fruit headdress and relocate it onto flip flops.

These ‘Fruit Flops’ are one of the most cheerful pairs of shoes in our collection. With luscious bunches of green grapes, complete with vine leaves, cherries, flowers and pearl beads decorating the white plastic sandals they cannot help but make people smile.

The Brazilian Bombshell would definitely approve.

Fruit Flops

Fruit Flops


Shoe of the Month-Northampton Shoes

Northampton Shoes

What do you think of as Northampton-made shoes?




Plastic jelly shoes?

These women’s plastic jelly shoes are just as important a part of the Northampton shoe industry story as the men’s leather shoes you might automatically think of. They have been made here for over 30 years and are an example of Northampton manufacturers diversifying into new markets while retaining traditional methods and standards.

Originally a family business providing injection moulding services to the boot and shoe industry, in 1986 JuJu Jellies created the original moulded plastic sandals which became known as ‘jelly shoes’. Now a fashion favourite, as well as a summer shoe icon, these shoes are made using the same processes and designs in bright (and glittery) colours. The plastic used to create these shoes is sourced in England and any waste is recycled to be used again.

Jelly Shoes

Jelly Shoes

Shoe of the Month – Tuscan Craftsmanship

Tuscan Craftsmanship

A very elegant pair of women’s ankle strap sandals with an unusual crossed double strap at the front. The classic pale green leather, oval toes and ankle strap are more reminiscent of the 1920s and 1930s than the 1990s, when they were made.

Bruno Manetti is a family company based in Tuscany and embody the Italian design aesthetic which embraces natural materials and traditional workmanship.

Ankle Strap Sandals

Ankle Strap Sandals

Shoe of the Month-Zig Zags

Zig Zags

With the iconic zig zag knitted textile these are unmistakably Missoni sandals.

Developed in the late 1960s the zig zag design utilised traditional weaving machinery to create this Modernist design. It has been repeatedly used by the Italian fashion house with their distinctive colour palate both for their catwalk collections and when collaborating with other brands.

The shoes themselves are a high fashion interpretation of the espadrille, the Spanish peasant footwear here with blue rope cord around the platform wedge heels. They have ribbon ankle ties to secure them to the wearer’s foot.

Zig Zags

Zig Zags

First World War Tank in Abington Park

First World War Tank in Abington Park

Between 1920 and 1935 Abington Park was home to a First World War tank. It was gifted to Northampton in 1919 in recognition of the money raised by the town for the war savings campaign. Also situated in the park at this time were 2 Boer war field guns, 3 First World War German Field Guns and a ships cannon.

Tanks were offered to 265 towns who had held ‘Tank Weeks’ to raise money for the war savings campaign.

The tank weighed 30 tons and was transported to Northampton’s Castle Station by rail on the 24th October 1919. The plan was to then drive the tank to Abington Park where there would be a naming ceremony a week later. However, the tank would not start and due to its great weight there was no other way to get it to the park.

The tank eventually arrived on 16th April 1920. A brass plaque was fixed that read:

‘Presented by the National War Savings Committee to the citizens of Northampton in recognition of the readiness with which they loaned their money to the country in the financial campaign carried out by the local War Savings Committee during the Great War 1914-18’

Abington Park was used numerous times between 1914 and 1918 for fundraising events to support prisoners of war, refugees and soldiers serving overseas. Pictured here an Abington Park Fete programme (1918).

Abington Park Fete Programme

Abington Park Fete Programme

The tank was named Steelback in honour of the Northamptonshire Regiment. It was situated next to the mound near the bandstand and was used mainly as a climbing frame by the local children. The mound is still often referred to as ‘Tanky Hill’.

The tank was a Mark IV ‘male’ tank – the most common First World War tank with over 1000 made. The ‘male’ tanks had a 6 pounder gun where ‘female’ tanks had machine guns. They were very unreliable and many broke down before they reached the front, much like the Abington tank breaking down at the station. These tanks had an 8 man crew. They require four people to drive and four people to operate the weaponry. It would have been very hot and cramped inside with a high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning as exhaust fumes filled the tank.

Mark IV tanks had a top speed of 4mph and a range of 15-20 miles on flat ground but a much shorter distance cross-country.

The Abington Park tank had the number 2324 which makes it one of the 100 male Mark IVs built by William Foster & Co at the Wellington Foundry in Lincoln.

1925 Map of Abington Park showing the Armoured Tank (National Library of Scotland)

1925 Map with Tank

1925 Map with Tank

Local Quakers opposed the tank and guns being kept in the park. They submitted a petition to the council to have them removed and the council voted in agreement. Councillor Barratt argued that the presence of the guns and the tank created a ‘war mind’ and were ‘a danger to the moral welfare of our young people and society generally’ (Northampton Mercury, Friday 13 April 1934)

Once it had been decided that the tank and guns would be removed from the park there was great debate over how they should be moved, especially considering the weight of the tank. One suggestion was that the tank should be buried in the park. This gave rise to the myth that the tank is buried under ‘Tanky Hill’. In fact the tank was purchased by a Sheffield-based company for scrap and in February 1935 the tank and the guns were cut up using oxyacetylene cutting torches and removed from the park.

Please visit the Conflict & Community digital archive containing over 300 objects, documents and oral history clips relating to the First World War:


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

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: