Mechanisation and Northampton’s shoemakers - the story continues.


Fighting the onset of mechanisation

Trickers shoes had already been established by 1829. In November 1857, the shoemakers held a meeting to discuss the introduction of machinery in the production of boots and shoes. The Northampton Mercury carried an account of the meeting, from which the following quotations are taken. At the meeting, Mr Wilder, a shoemaker, identified that the purpose of the meeting was to: “check the introduction of machinery, which was bound to bring ruin on them all”.

The meeting had been precipitated by the construction of a “monster warehouse” in the town which the shoemakers feared was going to “ride rough shod over them all unless they came forward in time”. The shoemaker feared that owners of the new warehouse intended to use it as a factory. In the words of Mr Pell, a shoemaker at the factory:
“that operations were to be confined within its walls and that machinery was to be used here.”

The owner of the warehouse, Mr MP Mansfield, denied this was the case but the shoemakers remained unconvinced and pledged to resist the introduction of machinery. In April 1858, the Northampton Boot and Shoe-makers Mutual Protection Society was formed to oppose mechanisation. A strike fund was created and links were forged with Stafford’s shoemakers who were already engaged in a dispute with their manufacturers over the introduction of machinery. Battle lines had been drawn in Northampton, each side waited to see who would blink first. Loake shoes weren't to appear on the scene until 1870.

It is interesting to note that Trickers shoes were established in 1829, Sanders shoes were established in 1873 and Loake shoes was established in 1880.

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