Kinky Boots Heritage Trail

Exploring Northampton's Shoe and Boot Quarter

Towards the end of the 19th century Northampton was known as England’s shoe-making capital. And although much of Northampton’s footwear manufacturing is no more, Northampton still has a Shoe & Boot Quarter, an area to the northeast of the town centre where many of the old factory buildings survive. Our Kinky Boots Heritage Trail is a short walk that explores this once thriving industrial area.




I’ve named our walk, or perhaps stroll as it is rather short, after the hit musical and film Kinky Boots which tells the lovely story of one of Northamptonshire’s shoe company’s efforts to survive. I’m not going to say anymore about the story as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen the show or film, but they’re both highly recommended.

If you are going to attempt our Kinky Boots Heritage Trail, we suggest you combine the walk with a visit to the Northampton Museum and Art Gallery which has a fantastic shoe and boot exhibition.


Kinky Boots on Display in Northampton Museum and Art Gallery © essentially-england.comKinky Boots on Display in Northampton Museum and Art Gallery © essentially-england.com

Kinky Boots Heritage Trail Map

Our circular Kinky Boots Heritage Trail is a fraction over one mile long and will take about thirty minutes to complete. I found the walk on the Northamptonshire Industrial Archaeology Group website and the local walking group website called northamptonshirewalks.co.uk.

Now, I must admit this walk is not in the most picturesque part of Northampton and meanders through what was once a very industrial area. The shoe manufacturers built their factories and then built streets of terraced housing for all their workers. Luckily, the area is being recognised for its contribution to Northampton’s heritage and some of the factories and workshops have become listed buildings. Also, those buildings that have fallen out of commercial use are now being restored and converted into apartments. As you’ll see from some of the photos, there is a lot of regeneration happening in this part of town.



You can start the walk at any point of the circuit and walk round in either direction. I’m starting at point A on the map and listing the buildings in numerical order. Point A is also the closest point to the museum which is about 10-15 minutes’ walk away (0.4 miles).

If you’re a Komoot.com user, you can follow our route on your phone. Click on the map link if you need to download a gpx file for your GPS device.


1). Overstone Road/St Michael's Road Junction

We started the walk at the junction of Overstone Road and St Michael’s Road. Continue down to the end of St Michael’s Road.


GT Hawkins Shoe Factory © essentially-england.comGT Hawkins Shoe Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:

1876

Hornby & West shoe factory

G.T. Hawkins shoe factory 1912-2000

Building being restored and converted to apartments.



2). 20-26 St Michael's Road

Unicorn Works Boot Factory © essentially-england.comUnicorn Works Boot Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:

About 1887

James Branch boot factory

Beal & Co. shoe and boot factory to 1920's

There are some nice features from its manufacturing days with crane mountings and high-level loading doors.



3). 50-60 St Michael's Road

Tricker's Shoe Factory in Northampton © essentially-england.comTricker's Shoe Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:

Notes:

1904

R.E. Tricker Ltd. shoe and boot factory

In 1937, the building was enhanced with a glazed brick frontage. Many of the internal factory scenes used in the 2005 film Kinky Boots were filmed here.

Tricker’s are the oldest shoe manufacturer in Britain and were established in 1829. They have a Royal Warrant from King Charles III, and their boots were worn by Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing on their successful climb of Mount Everest in 1953.



4). 62 St Michael's Road

Pollard and Son Shoe Factory © essentially-england.comPollard and Son Shoe Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:

1884

Pollard & Son shoe and boot factory to 1970's

Now part of Tricker's

Three-storey factory with a late extension.



5). 70 St Michael's Road

AE Rodhouse Leather Works in Northampton © essentially-england.comAE Rodhouse Leather Works © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:

Notes:

About 1890

A.E. Rodhouse leather warehouse

Three-storey factory that became a warehouse around 1908.



6). 72 St Michael's Road

Pedestrian Boot Factory in Northampton © essentially-england.comPedestrian Boot Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:

About 1886

Pedestrian Boot Factory

Grocery Warehouse

Three-storey, eight bay factory building



7). 105 St Michael's Road

Chaplins Stage School in Northampton © essentially_england.comChaplins Stage School © essentially_england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:

About 1890

H.J. Bateman boot factory to about 1910

Northampton Machinery Company to 1930’s

Three-storey T-shaped factory.

Recently Chaplins Stage School




At the junction between St Michael’s Road and Kettering Road turn left to pass…

8). 69a Kettering Road

Dickens Bothers Leather Works in Northampton © essentially-england.comDickens Bothers Leather Works © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:

Notes:


About 1890

Dickens Brothers leather works until 2017

Three-story gateway to factory courtyard currently being restored.



Take the first turning to the left into Grove Road and walk to the end of the road to its junction with Clare Street.

9). Clare Street/Grove Road Junction

GM Tebbutt Shoe Factory in Northampton © essentially-england.comGM Tebbutt Shoe Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:


1890

G.M. Tebbutt shoe factory to 1952

Tebbutt & Taylor shoe factory from 1952 to 1970's

This large factory unit has been restored and converted into apartments.



Turn left onto Clare Street and continue straight ahead across a set of traffic lights to a mini roundabout at the junction with Earl Street and Military Road. There’s a nice surprise along here as you pass the Army Reserve Centre which looks very castle-like.


If you’ve read our Northampton Heritage Trail page, then you’ll understand that the ruins of Northampton Castle were pulled down to make room for the new train station in 1879. The Army Reserve Centre was completed in 1859 as the headquarters of the 1st Northamptonshire Rifle Volunteer Corps.


Army Reserve Centre in Northampton © essentially-england.comArmy Reserve Centre in Northampton © essentially-england.com

10). Clare Street/Earl Street Junction

Allinson's Shoe Factory in Northamptonshire © essentially-england.comAllinson's Shoe Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:


1888

Fred Juggins boot and shoe factory to 1894

Allinson's shoe factory from 1894 to 1982

Three-storey large corner plot factory.



Retrace your steps back to the traffic lights at the Overstone Road junction with Clare Street.

11). Overstone Road/Clare Street Junction

Kerridge Brother's Shoe Factory in Northampton © essentially-england.comKerridge Brother's Shoe Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:



Notes:


1877

Kerridge Brothers shoe factory to 1889

Joseph Dawson shoe factory to mid-1920's

Also used by Brevitt Shoe Company

Three-storey large corner plot factory.



Turn right and follow Overstone Road to its junction with Dunster Street.

12). 73 Overstone Road

James Collier Leather Works in Northampton © essentially-england.comJames Collier Leather Works © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:


About 1880's

James Collier leather dresser to 1906

Glover & barnes gold blockers

Initially the building was four storey's high, but the top floor was destroyed by a fire in 1902. James Collier moved to Dunster Street.



13). Overstone Road/Dunster Street Junction

Leather Dressing Factory in Northampton © essentially-england.comLeather Dressing Factory © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:


About 1880

Used by different leather dressing companies

A.J. Tears bedding factory in the 1960-70's

Grade II listed building.

On the right is the James Collier building all boarded up for restoration.



Turn left in to Dunster Street…

14). 4-12 Dunster Street

Globe Leather Works Boarded Up for Regeneration © essentially-england.comGlobe Leather Works Boarded Up for Regeneration
© essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:

Notes:


About 1888

James Collier leather dresser for 60 years

Grade II listed building with Dutch style gables.



15). Leather Factories in Dunster Street

Leather Workshops in Dunster Street © essentially-england.comLeather Workshops in Dunster Street
© essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:

Notes:


?

A range of leather factories and warehouses



Return to Overstone Road and turn left back to the start point at the junction with St Michael’s Road.

16). 113 Overstone Road

Linen Thread Company Warehouse in Northampton © essentially-england.comLinen Thread Company Warehouse © essentially-england.com

Built:

Use:


Notes:


1880's

Shoe factory

Linen Thread Company warehouse

Three-storey factory/warehouse.

Current Shoe and Boot Makers in Northamptonshire

Whilst gathering background data from the internet, I found a list of shoe and boot manufacturers in England. I’m not sure how comprehensive the list was, but the majority were in Northamptonshire. So, let’s give a quick mention to these shoe and boot manufacturers who are keeping the Northamptonshire tradition alive. If you know of any other shoe and/or boot makers in the county, then contact us and we’ll add them to the list.

Grenson – making shoes and boots in Northamptonshire since 1866. Website: https://www.grenson.com

Dr Marten’s – founded in 1901 in Wollston, Northamptonshire. Most of product made outside Northamptonshire but you can buy handmade. Website: https://www.drmartens.com

Joseph Cheaney – company established in 1886 in Desborough, Northamptonshire. Website: https://www.cheaney.co.uk

Tricker’s – Britains oldest shoemaker started in 1829. Website: https://trickers.com

Crockett & Jones – founded in 1879 in Northampton. Website: https://www.crockettandjones.com

Barker Shoes – founded in 1880 in Earls Barton, Northamptonshire. Website: https://www.barkershoes.com

Church’s - founded in 1873 in Northampton. Website: https://www.church-footwear.com

Solovair, crafted by Northampton Productive Society – founded in 1881 in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. Website: https://www.nps-solovair.com

Edward Green – founded in 1890 in Northampton. Website: https://www.edwardgreen.com


This trail is close to other historical and cultural walks we have done in Northampton and could easily be extended. If you like to continue your wanderings, check out these walks:











Northamptonshire Holiday Cottages


Northamptonshire is a largely rural county in the centre of England, renowned for shoemaking, stunning countryside, and very pretty villages. It makes a great place for walking and cycling and is ideal for a relaxing holiday or short break.

Below, we've collected some holiday cottage ideas. Personally, I would love to stay in Stoke Bruerne, right next to the canal. Stoke Bruerne is a friendly, pretty village with a couple of pubs, an Indian restaurant, and easy walking from the door.



Northamptonshire Holiday Cottages: 3 Canalside Cottages, Stoke Bruerne | sykescottages.co.uk

3 Canalside Cottages
Stoke Bruerne
Sleeps 4


Northamptonshire Holiday Cottages: 9 Kingfisher Lake, Northampton | sykescottages.co.uk

9 Kingfisher Lake
Northampton
Sleeps 5


Northamptonshire Holiday Cottages: Hill House Farm, Nether Heyford| sykescottages.co.uk

Hill House Farm
Nether Heyford
Sleeps 10


Cobblers Cabin| sykescottages.co.uk

Manor Farm House Cottage| sykescottages.co.uk

Carpenters Barn| holidaycottages.co.uk

Cobblers Cabin
Northampton
Sleeps 2

Manor Farm House Cottage
Thrapston
Sleeps 4

Carpenters Barn
Staverton
Sleeps 6


To browse holiday cottages in other parts of England click here, or you could use our Booking.com search box.


 



For more things to do in England return from our Kinky Boots Heritage Trail page to the Northamptonshire page.