Travelling to Northampton for the most famous town for shoes

Posted on October 17, 2023 at 1:31 pm

Known as the “Shoe Town” of England, Northampton has a long and illustrious history as the heart of British shoemaking. With its many footwear factories and leatherworks, this East Midlands town dominated shoe production for centuries. Even today, Northampton continues upholding its reputation for quality craftsmanship. Visitors can discover this rich heritage on a trip to Northampton.

At the center of town, the Church’s Shoes Museum charts Northampton’s legacy through the world’s largest collection of shoes. Inside the iconic Tricker’s factory, marvel at Princess Diana’s wedding shoes, ancient Egyptian sandals, iconic movie footwear, and many more remarkable artifacts spanning centuries. Engaging exhibits also detail how manufacturing evolved from bespoke cobblers to global industrialization.

All along The Drapery, one of Northampton’s main streets, you’ll find historic shoe shops still manufacturing boots and leather goods on-site. Heritage brands like Church’s, Crockett & Jones, Tricker’s, and John Lobb have outfitted royalty over their centuries-long tenures. Peeking inside lets you observe traditional techniques firsthand. Expert staff also provides fitting services to experience that quality craftsmanship.

For those interested in design, the University of Northampton houses an extensive collection of shoe samples, materials, and equipment at its Leathersellers Fashion Studio. See how artistry and technology intermix to imagine groundbreaking footwear. The university’s shoemaking courses uphold Northampton’s legacy training new generations. Public workshops are also available for a hands-on lesson in cobbling.

At the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, the World’s Greatest Shoemakers gallery charts how shoes progressed from the industrial era to today. Fascinating historic advertisements, vintage lasts, locally manufactured footwear, and multimedia exhibits provide context around shoemaking innovations. Fashionistas will also appreciate the costume gallery’s extensive shoe collection.

No trip to Northampton is complete without factory visits to watch shoemaking in action. At Joseph Cheaney & Sons, see master craftsmen utilizing time-honored techniques like stitchwelting and hand-lasting to produce premium men’s shoes. Nearby at Alfred Sargent, observe workers meticulously shaping, polishing, and buffing leathers by hand before final assembly. These behind-the-scenes tours prove why Northampton shoes stand unmatched.

Northampton itself makes an idyllic English market town to explore beyond footwear. Medieval abandoned ruins like Delapre Abbey contrast modern attractions like Althorp, home to Princess Diana’s memorial. For nature, stroll along the River Nene or take the Nene Way walking trail through serene countryside. And don’t miss Northampton’s charming markets and pubs.

Travelers with an interest in fashion, manufacturing, or British history will find Northampton’s shoemaking legacy unmatched. This “Shoe Town” still proudly upholds its artisanal tradition and innovation in footwear production after centuries. Through museum exhibits, factory tours, university courses and independent shops, Northampton offers a comprehensive look at England’s proud cobbling heritage. Walk in the footsteps of master craftsmen on your trip.

Posted in Travel and Holidays