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Shoetrade - Recession

Rushden Echo, 2nd September 1921, transcribed by Susan Manton

Shoe Trade – Most of the orders now reaching Rushden boot factories are said to be either high-class or cheap footwear, the demand for medium grade productions being comparatively small.

The Rushden Echo, 9th March 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Shoe Trade Hit by Recession

A trade recession – described as the worst for ten years – is affecting Rushden boot and shoe factories. Because of lack of orders, some manufacturers are having to stockpile goods.

A NUBSO official said: “Trade is not normally so bad but it is approaching the 1952 position. It is generally like this all over the country where there are centres of unemployment.”

He described trade in the industry at the moment as “not too brisk,” as the sales of shoes was affected when wage packets remained stable in other industries.

“Shoes are one of the first things people don’t buy in the normal quantity,” he explained. “They make what they have do a little bit longer – and wear two pairs a year instead of the usual three.”

This drop in sales reflected on the industry and in particular on the factories which carried supplies “in stock” – supplies of goods not ordered but available to meet demands.

How did this affect union members?

The spokesman said: “We try to keep the wheels turning, and hope things will brighten up. The factories can get rid of their stock fairly quickly when they return to full-time working.”

At John White (Footwear) Ltd, one of the Rushden factories which have quantities “in stock” a spokesman refused to confirm whether the company was stockpiling goods. Nor would he comment on the current situation.

Mr. R. W. Marriott, managing director of Eaton and Co. Ltd, said that all over the country business was not as one would hope, due to the general state of trade. His firm was not affected more than any others.

At C. W. Horrells Ltd, the position was the opposite. “A terrific amount of overtime is being worked and the firm cannot produce enough,” said a company spokesman.

The Rushden Echo, 13th July 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Shoe Trade Shaky? — No Say Job Seekers

Despite suggestions that the shoe trade is weathering a recession at the present time, there is no slowing down among the August school-leavers of youngsters wanting to enter the industry.

This fact emerged when Mrs. C. A. Bailey, whose duties as youth employment officer cover the Rushden area, spoke to the “Echo” this week. She said that youngsters are not concerned about a recession, and neither are their parents.

Vacancies in the shoe trade were slightly down, but there was every likelihood of the demand for jobs being comparable with the Easter entry figures.

Of 298 secondary modern school leavers at Easter, 62 or just over 20 per cent, joined the industry. This August, Mrs. Bailey said, most firms were interested in taking school-leavers for training.


Of employment in all fields, Mrs. Bailey said that there were enough vacancies for the 400 or so boys and girls who were due to leave schools at Rushden, Wellingborough, Irthlingborough, Raunds and Wollaston. Some youngsters, however, might not be able to get exactly what they wanted.

Many boys were showing a preference for the electrical trades and many girls, apparently, were finding the thought of being a hairdresser more to their taste.

“It is probably because it seems glamorous,” said Mrs. Bailey, speaking of the hairdressing trade, but this, like the electrical trade for boys, had always been popular.


The interests of other youngsters interviewed were spread fairly evenly over the building trade, office work and shop work.

Summing up, Mrs. Bailey said: “We are not at all unhappy about the job situation.”

Mr. H. W. Catlin, headmaster of Rushden Secondary Modern School for Boys, said that 42 of the 46 pupils leaving in August had already been fixed up with jobs.

At the Secondary Modern School for Girls, Miss M. E. S. Boys said girls due to leave had been found employment.

Some pupils at both schools will be staying on for an extra year to study for their General Certificate of Education.


Wellingborough Technical College, which caters for local young people wanting to take their GCE, commercial and apprenticeship courses, will also have young people who have finished their studies looking for work.

Secondary school leavers will be taking advantage of the college’s facilities and, as usual, will be taking specialist subjects in preparation for jobs later on.

The Rushden Echo, 26th April 1963, transcribed by Jim Hollis

Shoe Orders Are Stepping Up

Not brilliant – but better. That is how Mr. J. S. Kirk, secretary of the Rushden and District Trade Manufacturers’ Association, summed up the current trade position locally, this week.

He shared the general view of Rushden and Higham manufacturers that it would be unwise at present to be over optimistic about the slight recovery many firms are making after mass dismissals and short-time working several months ago.

But, he added: “I think it would be wise to give a bit of encouragement to the general public and manufacturers after the recession.”

There was a tendency – improving weather – for more people to buy shoes and consequently firms were getting more orders.

John White’s, who sacked 184 operatives in January, said this week that because of a demand increase for their products they could offer employment to sixty experienced closers in their Rushden, Higham and Corby factories.


Company secretary, Mr. Charles Metcalfe commented: “Conditions have picked up substantially for us. We have had a big up-surge in orders for our products.”

Other footwear firms – CWS Rushden, and Borough Shoes Ltd, and Walker and Gunn Ltd, of Higham – who sacked workers during the recent slump were reserved when asked to comment on a possible improvement.

A company spokesman told the “Echo” that it was too early to forecast a bigger demand for footwear, although each was hopeful that there would shortly be an opportunity to reinstate some of the sacked workers.

Mr. D. Stratton, manager of Rushden Employment Exchange, reported renewed activity in vacancies during the past few weeks. He added: “Now there is a new type of skill required, as most firms are re-organising their whole labour force.”

The Rushden Echo, 24th May 1963, transcribed by Gill Hollis

Back To Normal – Almost

The unemployment cloud, which has been hanging over Rushden and Higham Ferrers in recent months, has almost disappeared. The latest figures reveal a further decrease in the number of those out of work, and the position in the shoe trade has almost reverted to normal.

This month there are 131 men and 61 women out of work compared with the previous month’s figures which showed 200 men and 62 women without work.

The drop is not unexpected because there has been a general all round improvement in the local footwear trade. More than 30 people have been found employment in the trade since April by Rushden Employment Exchange.

‘Very Satisfactory’

Mr. D. Stratton, manager of the employment exchange, described the fall as “very satisfactory.” He thought a steady improvement would continue to be made in the months ahead.

The London firm, Combined Rubber Ltd., which has been re-established in Higham is still taking on workers.

The building trade has picked up again now that the effects of the severe weather have gone and the exchange has placed a number in jobs with building firms recently.

Mr. Stratton said that of the large numbers sacked from the footwear industry only a few remain out of work. Most of these were older workers.

Young people out of work were finding it quite easy to find new jobs, he added.


More dollars for shoe firm

C. W. Horrell Ltd, Rushden, gained a quarter of a million dollar order from Canada this week in the face of intense competition and so bring their annual dollar earnings up to a record million and a quarter dollars.

The order, for 20,000 pairs of ladies’ bootees was clinched this week after some hard bargaining by the president of the Creative Shoe Co. Ltd, Mr. Lou Gladstone who flew in from Montreal to visit Horrells and several other British shoe manufacturers.

During his short stay in Rushden this week he discussed details of this order and styling’s for the 1964 spring season, which should lead to other big dollar earnings, but he warned manufacturers that it was only quality that was selling British shoes in Canada.


Prices were climbing too rapidly because of increases in labour costs and raw materials and consequently the British manufacturer was now faced with intensive competition from both the Canadian manufacturer and European industrialists, particularly the Italians.

He maintained that instead of Ministers extolling manufacturers to export more, they should give shoe makers the incentive by providing some sort of tax relief on export sales.

Patriotism and pretty speeches weren’t enough to gain export orders, Mr. Gladstone contended. Britons had to get out and sell in Canada.

Horrells Ltd. had the right idea. They sent their managing director Mr. M. C. C. Knowles over to Canada and the firm had been successful in winning an order for golfing shoes which had previously been held by an American firm.

Mr. Knowles and Mr. J. C. Horrell (chairman of the firm) agreed manufacturers needed more incentives if they were to increase exports.

During the recent recession it had been said Horrells were lucky to keep going. But the fact was that 300 people had been kept in jobs through merchandising and marketing their goods.

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