A little before 1900, Mr Walter Smart a shoe finisher from Bozeat, established a small business, manufacturing heels by hand in the workshop behind his house at 87 Park Road, Rushden. It is interesting to note that Mr W Smart and a friend skated from Castle Ashby to Petered on the frozen River Nene on Christmas Eve, 1894.
There was already an established tradition of shoemaking in Walter Smart's family, his father having been a journeyman shoemaker. Walter Smart's father-in-law, Mr Thomas Corby, established a heel manufacturing factory at London Road, Bozeat in 1879, the first heel manufacturing factory in the country. Tom Corby's daughter, Miss E Corby, was the travelling salesman of the business. A Shoe & Leather News of 1916 records Tom Corby having a new one-floor factory built in Bozeat, fitted with improved parafin lamps for petrol airglass lighting and modern plant and machinery for making all kinds of heels.
Walter Smart continued making heels until about 1921, when he began to deal in shoe upper and bottom surplus leather. This trade continued until 1958.
His two sons, T B Smart and R R Smart, both joined the business, however T B Smart died in 1934. Mr R R Smart, who still runs the business, joined it in 1931, after training at Brighton College and working for a time in 1929, in a broker's office at the London Stock Exchange. Miss I R M Smart, the daughter of Walter Smart, was the book-keeper for the business.
About 1936, the business moved to 44/46 Park Road and on 29th October 1948 a Limited Company, W Smart & Son Limited, was formed. From 1958 onwards, the Company has specialised in the manufacture of shoe repair components.
In 1965, Mr R R Smart's son, Mr G L Smart, joined the Company and in 1971, they formed a partnership.
In June 1978 Messrs Smart reformed the Limited Company, W Smart & Son Limited with only two staff and concentrated on the production of shoe repair components, particularly heels and soles of both leather and synthetic materials. These were sold direct to the shoe repair trade and are exported.