Craftsman who made a hobby of his trade
Mr. J. W. Goode, of Rushden, with some of his collection of miniature footwear.
The shoemaker's craft becomes more of an art when the shoes are no more than four inches long. A collection of such miniatures is the proud possession of Mr. J. W. Goode, 35 Carnegie Street, Rushden.
A craftsman of the old school, Mr. Goode began working in a shoe factory in 1880 when most of the work was done by hand. He was ten years old then, and earned one shilling a week on half-time, sixpence when work was scarce.
But at the age of four his father had taken him into the factory. "They used to sit me on the bench," he says, "with one of the iron lasts in front of me, and a hammer in my hand to knock in the nails." Those were the days when shoe soles were nearly all riveted on.
Perfect in detail
Mr Goode began making miniatures at the turn of the century. First he made a model last and then went on to make a boot on it to find out where faults lay.
Made of odd scraps of leather, these little boots and shoes are not only beautiful pieces of craftsmanship, perfect in every detail, but also fashion curios.
A woman's derby shoe in bronze kid recalls the pointed toes and waisted heel which made a come-back last year. Another boot has the strange high-built toe-cap which was a vogue that came over from America in 1916.
The first job was always to make the last. Then when the uppers had been cut, the closing would be done with a fine silk thread by a fellow Craftsman, Mrs Fletton, who lives in Newton Road, Rushden.
As for the method of "making" the little welted boots: "That’s my own secret," says Mr Goode.
Travellers carried them as samples to show off styles. Many of the shoes found their way into exhibitions. Some never came back. Visitors were tempted to slip them into their pockets!
Mr Goode made his last miniature twenty years ago. He retired in 1930 after fifty years in the factory, but still makes his own shoes. When a reporter visited him he had just cut out a pair of new slippers.
He is very proud of one pair of shoes. The uppers are in one piece, without any seam, even at the heel. They were blocked on to the last, and now, twenty years later, Mr Goode still wears them every summer. He describes them as "like a glove" to wear.
The craftsman was also a teacher at Wellingborough, Irthlingborough, Earls Barton, Raunds and Rushden. He numbers among his pupils Mr. John White, Mr. Walter Tarry and Mr. Hugh Shortland.
His souvenirs include a bundle of certificates from the Shoe and Leather Fair, dating back to 1897, and one from the Paris Exhibition of 1900. They are for cutting standard patterns, taking measurements and grading a set of patterns. He has too, a silver-topped walking stick, inscribed, given to him by the Co-operative Education Department in 1907, when he organised the boot and shoe section of their exhibition.
Now 85 and still full of humour and activity, he does his own cooking and gardening, while his workshop's still that of the craftsman who made a hobby of his trade.