WOLLASTON AND BOZEAT
BOTH Wollaston and Bozeat are well-known shoe centres, and they prepare considerable quantities of medium-grade footwear. There are large and modern factories in both places, and much army work was turned out in pre-War days. They have now come to the aid of the Government, and are doing their best under the present conditions. The goods generally produced are moderate in price, and meet the requirements of many who are unable to purchase boots and shoes of higher grades. There is plenty of enterprise in both places, and besides the home trade a very large export business is done. All parts of the world get Wollaston and Bozeat footwear, and find it very suitable for their needs. A large field is opening out after the War, which will be materially filled by these two centres. Somewhat difficult of access, they yet receive plenty of callers, and are able to hold their own against other and more favoured neighbours.
ARMY footwear has for many years been identified with Raunds, and long before the present time of stress and strain the Admiralty and Army looked to Raunds for a very large proportion of the goods required for the Services. To-day they are still being produced, and her manufacturers have risen to the occasion, and, as always, have done their best for the authorities. Most of the firms here have made the goods required by the Government, County Council, Territorials and other public bodies a specialty, and Wellington knee boots, and goods of this character, are turned out in quantities. The hand-sewn trade flourished here for many years, but is now under a cloud by reason of the change in the Government's requirements. Raunds is a nourishing manufacturing place, with much to be thankful for, by reason of the enterprise and business ability with which the leaders of the town have considered its best interests. It is a town standing on an eminence abounding in springs, and at one time having a large ironstone industry. The church is a fine building, which lends dignity to the surrounding country.
THERE are few more ancient boroughs than Higham Ferrers, and in these days it retains its Mayor and Corporation, and is very jealous of its privileges. Its neighbour Rushden has grown and flourished amazingly, but Higham Ferrers retains much of its glory, and is a clean, pleasant place, situated on a rocky elevation and about half a mile from the banks of the slow-moving Nene. In bygone days it boasted a castle, the remains of which can still be traced, and was supposed to have been erected by one of the Ferrers family, but probably Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, son of Edmund, younger son of Henry the Third, was the builder. Archbishop Chichele, in the year 1422, founded a college, the glory of which has departed, and what is left is used as a barn. The Archbishop did much for Higham Ferrers, and is held in grateful remembrance. The church, to which Archbishop Laud contributed at its rededication, is one of the most beautiful in the county, which is famed for its spires and squires. The Nene Valley abounds with glorious monuments to the piety of our ancestors, and Higham Ferrers Church is by no means the least beautiful. A goodly quantity of footwear is produced at this place, and, led by Messrs. Charles Parker, a high standard of excellence is maintained.
Higham Ferrers of late years has grown considerably, and besides footwear more leather is turned out than in many towns twice its size. It combines the ancient and modern in a very striking manner, and is not the least of the business towns in the county.
What trade leaders think by C. W. Horrell
In writing an article on the trade one is particularly interested in, especially when it has been subjected to so many changes and reforms, is not an easy thing to do so in a short paragraph. When one thinks of the future and the complications and difficulties that will have to be faced for the next 10 or 20 years, there are things which are prominent in one’s mid.
First and foremost is that of Technical Education. One has no wish to cast any reflection upon what has been attempted, and, to a certain extent, achieved. At the same time, it should be made much more effective to a larger number; and this can only be done by facing the matter boldly. A Technical Institute should be established in every manufacturing centre, fully equipped with all up-to-date plant necessary to teach the practical as well as the scientific side of our industry. The instruction given should be of such a character that will encourage and appeal to those of average ability, and not run, as a number of our colleges are, for the benefit of prize winners. Such institutes should be supervised and chiefly governed and supported by the various manufacturers’ associations or federations in order to make them a success. It would also be necessary that the instruction given should be during the working hours of the day, and attendance would need then to be compulsory.
A Better Understanding with Labour.
In the second place, one cannot help thinking that a better and more sane understanding will have to be arrived at with regard to labour. It is scarcely necessary to refer to the past or even present methods; they seem altogether too antiquated for the future commercial war which have to be faced at the conclusion of the present military and naval one. Such questions as minimum wages and restricted output are things which will have to be forgotten, and it would be an advantage if capital and labour could meet prior to the conclusion of the War and discuss these things in a frank and open manner.
In the third place, there is a question of supplies a factor that will have to be considered. There must of necessity be a considerable shortage of both upper and bottom stock for many months to come, which will cause some dislocation at the end of hostilities. There will be no great floating stocks, and the requirements of the home trade, as well as those of France, Russia and America, must be very great. Factors should do all they can to encourage the manufacture of lines which could be produced from the stocks of offal that are not only in the hands of boot manufacturers but also in the hands of leather dressers in the way of shoulders and bellies. This would to some extent tide over the difficulty.
The great need of manufacturers has been that of organisation and one is glad to know that very great improvement has taken place with reference to this. Instead of jealousy and secrecy there is a strong tendency for manufacturers to be open and frank with each other. The time has arrived when larger manufacturers are convinced that they lose nothing by giving of experience to those whose businesses are of smaller dimensions. This is as it should be if the trade is to be placed on a higher plane.