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!

Shoe of the Month – Batman Sneakers

Batman Sneakers

Blam, kerpow, crash, sok!

Batman the TV series burst onto American TV screens in 1966. It starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as his ever-faithful sidekick, Robin the Wonder Boy. They were an instant hit, defeating such arch villains as the Joker, the Riddler and the Penguin. Their mission was to clean up the streets of Gotham City.

These sneakers were produced at about the time the TV series became popular. Made by Randy, one of the largest sneaker companies in the US, these sneakers not only came with a mask that could be cut out from the side of the box but also with a Batman ring, ensuring that anyone who wore them upheld the Batman code to ‘be honest, play fair and obey the law’.

Batman Sneakers

Batman Sneakers

If you have a close look at Batman on the box he is, of course, wearing his own shoes!

These sneakers were purchased through the Collecting Cultures purchase fund – a Heritage Lottery Fund initiative to improve the sneaker collection at Northampton Museum and Art Gallery.


Shoe of the Month – Elephant Leather

Elephant leather

Shoes can be made out of many different materials including wood, rubber, textiles, straw, plastic, metal or even paper. All you need are soles which are strong enough to protect your feet and uppers to keep the shoes on your feet.

Leather is probably the most popular material and many different skins can be used from crocodile to goat, from ostrich to sharkskin.

These shoes are made from elephant leather. Elephant hide is very, very thick, often 10 – 12 cms, and to make the leather more flexible and easier to work with the leather has been split. With very thick hides, the middle split can be separated into multiple layers until the thickness prevents further splitting. Apparently only the large ears of an elephant are suitable to make useable leather from.

Elephant Leather Shoes

Elephant Leather Shoes

These shoes were made for the donor in the 1970s, but have never been worn.



Shoe of the Month – George Webb and Sons

George Webb & Sons

Makers of Fine Footwear for Men

George Webb & Sons were one of Northampton’s most famous shoe manufacturers. This shoe is just one of many recently donated to the collection by the son of a former manager there, Oliver J Farey.

George Webb (1870-1940) started out in the shoe industry and progressed to the position of works manager with the firm of Albert E Marlow. He spent twenty eight years at Marlow’s and progressed to become Managing Director. In 1927, at the age of 57 he left the company and spent his life savings to establish his own firm. He purchased an empty factory in Brockton Street, Kingsthorpe Hollow, rented machinery, and started the new business with his two sons as equal partners.

The new works were known as the Mentone Works, making “shoes that give tone to men”. The firm expanded until they employed about six hundred people.

As orders increased, additional premises were required. These included a factory at Black Lion Hill near Northampton railway station, another at Walgrave and one in Bridgend in South Wales.

When George retired, sons Dennis and Frank became joint partners and managing directors. In 1946 the firm became a Private Limited Liability Company, going public in 1951. By 1963 the firm was producing 24,000 pairs of shoes weekly. After passing to different owners, the factory closed in1982.

George Webb Shoe

George Webb Shoe

The Webb brands of shoes included Mentone, Savile Row, Castello, Park Lane, Alpha, Excelsis, Metropolis, Northern King, City Craft, Royal Parade, Brockton, World-Walk, Selborne, Duration and On Top.

Shoe of the Month – Showing Off

Showing Off

This jockey boot was made by G M Tebbutt of Northampton. It is a perfect miniature version, perhaps made as a sample of the type of footwear manufactured by the firm. Shoemakers also had access to lots of scraps of leather and sometimes used these to make tiny shoes. Some of these are so tiny; you wonder how the shoemaker managed to make them.

Jockey Boot

Jockey Boot

Shoemakers have always been craftsmen. They had served an apprenticeship to learn their trade and were proud of their skills, with a strong history of making exhibition, prize and small scale footwear.

From the late 18th century until the 1860s, prize competitions were held to find the best craftsman. To show off their skills, the shoemakers made special shoes with odd shaped toes and heels and hand sewn seams with up to 40 stitches to the inch (2.5cm)

Special shoes were also made for exhibitions, beginning with the Great Exhibition of 1851. These were full size shoes and could be worn if you could get them on your feet. They all showed a very high standard of workmanship.


Shoe of the Month – The Cellona® Shoe

The Cellona® Shoe

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery are always delighted to receive donations of new and innovative shoes to the shoe collection, in particular the orthopaedic / health shoe collection.

The Cellona® shoe is the very latest innovation for those people with bandaged feet. At a time when people are faced with reduced mobility this shoe provides protection and stability. It has a firm reliable base and support, a non-slip sole and creates a good foothold making it easier to walk. It is hygienic and hardwearing. It is fully adjustable for comfort protecting the wearer against wet and cold weather; it can be worn as a closed shoe or open sandal and will fit securely to all foot shapes.

The Cellona® Shoe

The Cellona® Shoe

The shoe has revolutionised the wearer’s ability to walk in comfort with the required support in all weathers.