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Save Northampton's Unique Industrial Heritage

LONDON, ENGLAND.-English Heritage and Northamptonshire County Council launched a campaign to save Northampton’s unique industrial heritage with the publication of a new book “Built to last? The Buildings of the Northamptonshire Boot and Shoe Industry,” by Kathryn Morrison. Celebrating the buildings of Northampton’s rich industrial past, the new book highlights their special qualities and emphasises the importance of conservation and regeneration for the future.

Sir Neil Cossons, Chairman of English Heritage, said: “Northamptonshire has a world-wide reputation for making high-quality boots and shoes. The shoemaking industry has created townscapes across Northamptonshire that are unique to England. Sadly, in recent years, a reduction in the scale of industry has led to the loss of many of its most distinctive buildings.

This new book from English Heritage celebrates the extraordinary character of the industrial heritage that survives and calls for an imaginative strategic approach to ensure that the complex mix of factories, houses and workshops, and the spaces between them, is understood, sensitively managed and enjoyed by many generations to come.”

Mick Young, Leader of Northamptonshire County Council said: “I am delighted that the joint working between Northamptonshire County Council and English Heritage has resulted in such a clear and evocative insight into the development and impact of this major influence on Northamptonshire’s sense of place and its cultural identity. However, rather than simply focussing on the industry’s past role in the development of our villages and towns, it offers an exciting vision for these buildings and townscapes to continue to have a role that supports the social, economic and environmental needs of society.”

The launch of the book coincides with the 175th anniversary of Tricker’s shoe manufacturers and a special celebratory exhibition at the Designated Shoe Collection at Northampton Museum. Throughout its 175 year history Tricker’s has remained a local family business and its factory is situated at the heart of Northampton’s Boot and Shoe district. The new exhibition at Northampton Museum charts the history of Tricker’s and the development of its exceptional range of footwear over the past 175 years.
As early as the 17th century, boots and shoes were being made in Northampton and exported overseas. By 1850 the industry had spread to other parts of the county. If you were a soldier in the Great War you would most likely be wearing Northamptonshire boots, and at its peak the county produced as many shoes as did the rest of Great Britain put together.

While maintaining its position at the top of the market, the pressures of the modern global economy since the 1950s have had a devastating impact on the factories of Northampton, resulting in a reduction in the scale of manufacturing and the loss of many of the county’s most distinctive buildings. It is hoped that the new book from English Heritage will help redress this balance and encourage the sensitive regeneration of these unique buildings.

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