The Handworker - A Rushden Survivor of the Old Times of Shoemaking
This picture will be of great interest as a glimpse of the past in our industry. Mr. Henry Grose, of 23 Wentworth Road, Rushden, looks a typical “cobbler” of the class which has been immortalised by novelists, as the village oracle. The picture conjures up in the imagination the drowsy hum of bees round the honeysuckle adorning the “cobbler’s cottage”, as the old gentleman expounds his novel views of politics and life, both parochial and national, to admiring the children and instructed gossip. We see the “Stirrup” which was used to make boots and, one fears, often to coax the children into better behaviour. We remember, in the dim past, the wonderful possessions of a dear old “cobbler” in a dearly loved village where we spent some of that past. Did a spinning top require a “peg” the “cobbler” would find one and mend the toy. Did a whip require a lash, a wheelbarrow a new spindle, marbles a bag or baby “soui a baim”, the dear old man would provide it from his inexhaustible and wondrous rubbish. Mr. Grose’s work is all bespoke, principally for cripples and his boots are chiefly sold by his son, who carries on a bespoke business in Leeds. Starting at the age of six at Irchester, he worked on closing, which was then done by hand until he was ten years old when he became a sewing and stitching boy. He came to Rushden 38 years ago and worked for several years as a tapper for Messrs. Cunnington Bros, in whose factory he was the first to begin work. Later he was a tapper at Messrs. B. Denton and Son Ltd, but during the South African War he again went back to the old hand sewing trade, making the Wellington and Jack Boots which were in demand for the troops. He has kept up the business ever since.