English Shoes: 10 more brands still made in Britain

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Our second list of footwear companies that manufacture their shoes in Britain

Church's Shoes

Church’s Shoes

When we first compiled an article with a list of ten brands of English shoes that are still made in Britain we never could have believed how popular it was to become and the strength of feeling it would arouse in people. Since it was published in May 2011 the article has received over 70 comments from readers with suggestions, as well as outrage, for brands that had been left off the list, as well as arguments about which firms were genuinely making all of their shoes in the UK.

So to kick of 2013 we bring you a new list of an additional 10 brands that still make their shoes in Britain. In particular there has been a call for more women’s shoes to be found, so we have included a couple, but we are sad to say that there are very few English shoemakers specialising in ladies shoes in the UK these days.

There are still at least another 10 brands that we could have added, so watch out for a further article in the future, and as always, if you have suggestions for who has been left off the list then please leave a comment.

1. Tricker’s est. 1829
Known for their distinctive heavy brogues with a Goodyear welted sole, Tricker’s make 1400 pairs of (predominantly men’s) shoes  a week in their Northampton factory, 70% of which are sold to customers abroad. They are the holders of a Royal Warrant thanks to the fact that Prince Charles has been a loyal customer for over 20 years.

2. Church’s est. 1873
When we made our original list of British footwear brands Church’s were omitted because we were unsure of what percentage of their footwear was made here following the Prada take over in 1999, however we have it from several sources that all of their production is still done in their factory in Northampton, including their women’s range.

3. Crockett & Jones est. 1879
Crockett & Jones are another men’s footwear company producing Goodyear welted soul shoes. So important is their factory on Perry Street to the history of the shoe trade in Northampton that is was given a Grade II listed building status in 2004 in order to preserve the history of the shoe trade in the area. The do also carry a small women’s range.

4. Alfred Sargent est. 1899
Alfred Sargent founded his eponymous footwear label with his sons at the turn of the 19th Century in Rushden, Northamptonshire. The company continues to manufacture all of its footwear in Britain over one hundred years later and is now under the guidance of Alfred’s great great grandchildren. They produce 3000 pairs of shoes every week and the entire process is done in their UK factory.

5. George Cleverley est. 1958
The opposite of a mass-manufactured brand, George Cleverley make the majority of their shoes by hand in the upstairs of their shop in Mayfair, London. Their bespoke service allows the customer to create a pair of shoes of their own choosing with a made to measure fit – the ultimate in English footwear luxury.

6. Hotter Shoes est. 1959
Describing themselves as ‘stylish shoes with comfort built in’, Hotter Shoes have a huge factory in Skelmersdale, Lancashire. Producing over 1.3 million pairs of their casual shoes in the UK every year, we think this makes them the largest manufacturer of footwear in the UK – although we could be proved wrong.

7. Solovair est. 1959
Solovair (sole-of-air) is the brand name owned by NPS footwear manufacturers, who for 35 years produced boots under license,  sold under the name ‘Dr Martens by Solovair’. They continue to make the distinctive air cushioned sole boots, although now under their own brand name rather than under license. They also manufacture shoes for other customers, including ASOS and John Lewis.

8. Walsh est. 1961
Walsh is the only British-owned and manufactured sports footwear brand left in the UK. The company was founded by Norman Walsh in Bolton and is known for its distinctive and patented ripple sole, which was developed specifically for fell running. They produce the Walsh Sports and Walsh Casual ranges.

9. Jeffery West est. 1987
Having both grown up in Northampton,  Mark Jeffery and Guy West started their shoe business from the Jeffery family footwear factory in the famous shoe making town. Jeffery West don’t make the traditional toe-cap Oxford, or classic Brogue that Northampton is famous for, instead they opt for a much more individual style all of their own, whilst retaining the fantastic quality of craftsmanship that the area is famous for. (Note: not all of their shoes are made in the UK)

10. Yull est. 2011
Sarah Watkinson-Yull founded the Yull footwear brand having studied footwear at Philip Green’s Fashion Retail Academy. Whilst her main collection is not made in Britain, she has developed a special collection of shoes using UK manufacturers following funding that she received from the Prince’s Trust. Worth a mention here as Yull is one of the only independent shoe brands manufacturing ladies high heels in Britain.

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27 Responses

  1. Tim Walker says:

    Thanks for the mention Kate. Had some good news that Fred Perry’s exlusive Laurel Wreath Stores are stocking 2 of the Walsh SS13 casual shoes worldwide as part of their ‘Friends of Fred’ collection. This might be worth a story to you since you kindly covered us at our relaunch during the Olympics. I’ll have a proper press release out in Feb. Tim 07841 421 320

  2. Karl Rees says:

    I’ve a couple of pairs of lovely boots made by Sanders & Sanders. They do their own range as well as manufacturing for designers Mark Mcnairy and Oliver Spencer. Their factory is in Northants,

    Edward Green and John Lobb are two other well known Northampton shoemakers which aren’t on your list.

  3. Ken Craig says:

    I dont see Grenson & Barker in your list. Both companies still produce v high quality
    gents shoes in Northampton, where both companies were founded in the 18 00s.
    I once had a pair of Barkers for over 16 yrs, & they didnt spend much time
    in the wardrobe!

  4. John says:

    I thought barkers were made in Northampton? Also do some new balance trainers not get made in Britain?

  5. I sell high heel shoes made in the UK!
    They are unusual in having only a 1″ heel, for the reluctant heel-wearer, but I can source higher-heel shoes for anyone is interested – just ask for a list of factories or I will organise production for you.

    Tredair is another UK brand, now subcontracted to the same factory that makes Solovair http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tredair. I re-brand them again as Bouncing Boots They are worth a mention for their unique 4-layer sole that moulds to the shape of your feet to maximise their natural bounce, while adding a quarter inch of its own foam as well. A non-bouncing version is sold as Gripfast.

    Thanks to Make it British for publishing some of the companies on the list I sent. If anyone is interested in keeping a detailed wiki-style shoe factory list up to date that would be great, and I hope others do the same for other trades as the trade directories that used to be in reference libraries are now no longer published and out of date.

  6. John Rogers says:

    Thanks for this second shoe article. I wish it were true for Church’s (“all of their production, including their womens range”). We’ve just bought a pair of ladies Church’s from a shop in Lyon, France. Women’s brogues marked “English Shoes”. I contacted Church’s out of curiosity and was told that the shoes were made in a Prada factory in Italy (furthermore, they are not Goodyear welted, but cimented – but that is not the important point). It is a deception – customers buying what they believe is an English-made product. The law apparently permits the use of the mention “English Shoes”, but that would be a good campaign for your site, no ? To change it.

  7. John Rogers says:

    I must add to my preceding post, not only were the Church’s shoes marked “English Shoes” but also “Northampton England”.

  8. daisy says:

    It is nice to know that at least some of our shoes are still made in this country.

  9. Jay says:

    Can anyone tell me if Grinders are made in England or somewhere else?
    I saw the Grinders Attitude boots at the British Boot Company store. They are expensive so i want to know if im getting genuine British made boots.

    • John Rogers says:

      Grinders boots came to fame with the tide of skinhead, then punk trends, similar to DMs , Solvair, etc. They’re not that expensive. About the same as DMs. They are stocked by, among other shops, the British Boot Co in London. They are welted. However, the interesting question is – where are they now made ? Like DMs, probably not in the UK.

      • A week ago I asked on their website if any of their styles are made in the UK or could be in quantities of 12 or so. No reply. I’m sure I heard from NPS that they used to get stuff done in the UK but not any more; maybe a change in fashion or a bigger order than 12 pairs will prompt a reply from them.

  10. Martin Plumstead says:

    Kate:

    With the demise of Hartt’s and Dack’s in Canada, and being generally unimpressed with what is offered south of the border, I have been researching footwear made in Britain. Very interesting websites and your material. I think that I have one more shoemaker in Britain that seems to put out some high-class shoes: Robinson’s of Belfast. Not exactly English, but still British, right? What do you and your correspondents think of their shoes?

    Martin Plumstead

  11. Kate Hills says:

    Thanks for recommending Robinson’s Martin, I had not come across them before and they look to be quite reasonable value too.
    I have just checked out their website http://www.robinsonsshoes.com/

  12. John Rogers says:

    Thanks Martin Plumstead for introducing this Belfast shoe maker Robinsons. The brogues look really nice, with some highlights I have not seen before, such as using a very dark lining leather (dark green if the web site photos are correct) that brings out the tan colour of the shoe uppers. I’ll definitely buy a pair the next time I need some shoes (trouble is, can’t wear out the damn shoes made in Northampton that I have already, that’s to say, I might need some more in about 30 years).

  13. I sometimes try to sell UK made-to-order batches of shoes as a middle-man (or boy or girl); I have stock. Shopkeepers from my niche market sometimes ask me about wholesale. So I have to say that there’s minimal stock on the shelf but more can be made to order. I don’t see what is difficult about this, but they do. The difficulty seems odd to me, because I am new to selling small wholesale batches, and any feedback is welcome.

    Shopkeepers seen face-to-face will tend to give feedback about what I ought to stock, without warning me. Somehow a conversation about made-to-order becomes a conversation about what someone advises me to keep on a shelf for wholesale, if it were economic to do so, which it is not. A phrase like “get some pointy ones”, can mean “I more-or-less agree to buy pointy shoes if you or your supplier do a lot of work getting specifics like a price and a photo of something similar” to me, while the shopkeeper, after talking to their partner and cooling-off, thinks it means “We talked about this last time you barged in.”, and is only just polite enough not to say it, as though proper suppliers always had stuff on the shelf before the real business of ordering. The only good side of this is that shopkeepers’ un-asked -for offers of free consultancy can be genuine; sometimes they do have ideas to pass-on after years of helping customers buy things face-to-face from behind a counter, even if I was asking for sales and not ideas.

    Shopkeepers contacting by email are similar they tend to show interest and then go cold when they discover I do not have a shelf of 1,000 expensive UK-made shoes in a London warehouse at a price they can afford. (South Son & Whitcombe of Kings Cross used to do this a decade or two ago but went bust, unsurprisingly).

    Different shopkeepers seem easier or harder to deal with, but the problem of keeping them on the subject of made-to-order shoes seems hard.

    Does anyone else find this?
    Does anyone have any advice?
    John

  14. tony sole says:

    Dont forget Alt-berg boots.Handmade in Yorkshire. Best hiking boots ive owned!

  15. stephen lewis says:

    Solovair boots are a better boot than dr martens . made in the same factory as doc’s made in england range have cherry red and ox blood and half sizes, and a lot cheaper at just £110.

  16. Adrian Smith says:

    Hi Kate
    I applaud your efforts to raise the profile of some of our great British manufacture’s and providing a resource for those of us who, given the choice, would prefer to support our fellow British workers.
    Well done you!

    I do, however, sympathise with you in trying to correctly identify exactly which products are actually made in Britain. Some years ago I set up an online directory (BestBuyBritish.org) for British made branded products where every single product was personally researched by me to establish how British each product line was.

    It became fairly obvious by the second year that the project was going to be impossible to keep on top of, so I sadly had to abandon it :(

    I found the vast majority of truly British made product manufacturer’s were very proud of their British heritage. However, I also found some traditional British brands that had subsequently became foreign-owned and moved their manufacturing base abroad were very happy to continue to peddle the British-ness of their product to an eager buying public. In some cases using very unethical practices.
    The most notable of these was a high-end Hi-Fi speaker manufacturer who had the Union Flag flying proudly over their trade stands and each of their units had a Union Flag sticker on the rear of their products, despite being foreign owned and none of their products being made in the UK!!

    I just wish truly British made product manufacturers would identify their products as clearly being made in the UK for ease of selection for those of us who wish purchase British-made products, and legislation introduced to stop the charlatans from taking our money under false pretences.

    Keep up the good work.

    Kind regards
    Adrian

  17. Peter says:

    Any suggestions for men’s sandals made in Britain? I’ve failed to find any so far.

  18. Cristina says:

    Hi, where can I find the Walsh shoes in London?
    Thank you
    Cristina

  19. Tony sole says:

    Im glad to see Nps Solovair included on the list. I have a pair or both. However dont forget alt-berg ,who make a huge range of.boots at there factory in Yorkshire.

  20. Janet Walder says:

    I always believed that all Hotter shoes were manufactured in UK. That used to be so a few years ago I believe. However I received a pair of sandals this morning which have a ‘Made in Vietnam ‘ label. I am returning them because they are too tight-(not because they were made in Vietnam!) What concerns me mainly is wondering about working conditions for staff in places such as Vietnam.I never buy from Primark for example for the same reason-certainly NOT that I object to cheap throw away clothes for holidays etc.

  21. Romano says:

    How you can forget
    John lobb and Edward green…

    Greeting from italy

  22. chris says:

    I am a fan of Jeffery West, I have several pairs and always tend to pick up a pair when in the UK.

    I am shocked about Church’s not being made in the UK and more importantly them being cemented together.

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