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Rushden Echo, 12th March 1965, transcribed by Kay Collins
W. W. Chamberlain and Sons
Shoe Components Division

It Started in a Small Nissen Hut

In the short space of 11 years the shoe components division of W. W. Chamberlain and Sons has grown from a small Nissen hut at Rushden to a huge factory in Northampton producing more than any other factory of its kind in the country.

Today production is measured in millions of units, and it is planned to INCREASE on that. At a time when the industry as a whole has been pulling its belt in an extra notch, the components factory has been expanding!

Mr. H. E. Holmes, a director of W. W. Chamberlain (Associated Companies) Ltd., said that a new £120,000 extension to the Northampton factory has recently been completed.

The extension—37,000 square feet—gives the factory a total floor area of 82,000 square feet.

A few of the 48 presses which are used in the Northampton factory for cutting out soles. It is this mechanisation which has enabled the factory to expand to its present properties after starting in a small Nissen hut at Rushden 11 years ago.

What is the secret of the firm’s expansion success? Mr. Holmes explained that they were able to produce shoe components in such large quantities and at such a low price by mechanisation and modern production methods.

“The shoe manufacturer is encouraged to buy his components from us because we can make them more cheaply than he can.

“For instance, we produce 60,000 pairs of soles a week for one well known branded shoe.”

The factory is able to produce in such large quantities because it has as many as 48 presses cutting insoles and soles.

Mr. Holmes admitted that they had felt a little of the wind from the slight depression which the trade has been facing in recent months.

But this had not deterred the firm from expanding.

“We make every type of shoe component here, except stiffeners, and we know there is a demand. We are not at full blast yet, but when things get back to normal in the trade the demand is going to be massive,” Mr. Holmes added.


The factory only handles synthetic leathers and rubbers.

If some of the materials are imported, the firm make up for this by exporting many of their components abroad, particularly Europe, South Africa and Australia.

And people in the trade do not rely on the firm to make “bits and pieces” for shoes.

We were shown one component which represented 25 per cent or more of a complete shoe for a lady.

It consisted of a pre-finished resin rubber sole, with a plastic heel and steel shank attached to the seat piece.

Ten years ago the trade would have regarded this type of component as wishful thinking.

Today it is just a small part of the revolution the industry is going through. And there is no doubt that Chamberlain’s shoe components division is playing a major role in that revolution.

W. W. Chamberlain and Sons

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