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Boot & Shoe Trades Journal 1914

 Few towns in this country have developed so rapidly as Rushden. In the space of a single generation it has grown out of all recognition, and the poulation has increased and multiplied exceedingly. In the past it must have heen a place of some importance, for the Parish Church is a spacious and beautiful structure, with a spire rising to a height of 93 feet from the tower, and the whole being 192 feet from the ground. It is built on an eminence, and commands an extensive view of the country round. There is much to interest students of architecture, and visitors come .for miles around to see its beauties. Like so many of the churches in the valley of the Nene, they are the  glory of the countryside.

It is said Rushden Hall was once a Royal residence; at least, the Dukes of Lancaster and John O’Gaunt lived there, the latter owning the castle in the adjoining borough of Higham Ferrers. The place was originally one long street winding round by the church and leading from Higham Ferrers to Bedford. The High-street has been improved of late years, and a number of estates built on, while wide, and pleasant streets have been formed and the developed in many directions. The factories are large and well-built, and the manufacturers as progressive and enterprising as any in the trade.

The shoe trade came, in all probability, from Higham Ferrers, where for years they had made boots for the Army and Navy. The difficulty of securing land to build upon at Higham doubtless drove the trade to Rushden, which consequently soon outstripped its more ancient neighbour. Mr George Denton, who was a currier about 1845, was one of the first to give greater attention to the shoe trade. He was joined by his brother, Mr. Benjamin Denton, who carried on the business, and in turn his son Geroge, of Messrs. B. Denton and Son, continued what had been so well started. In connection with Messrs. Wilkins and Denton large Army contracts were secured, and the business firmly established. Mr. W. Colson was another pioneer of the Rushden shoe trade, and he was followed by Mr John Cave, who built up a very fine business and became the largest manufacturer in the place. The firm were particularly unfortunate in the way of fires. In 1880 they suffered badly, and Mr. Cave’s son was killed by the falling of a wall. Some years later another conflagration occurred, and after this the fine factory was built as it stands today in College-street.  Mr. William   Claridge was another keen-sighted manufacturer who did much for the growing trade of Rushden, and by the durability and solidity of his goods made a reputation for the footwear of the town, which has been a valuable asset. When he died in 1891 his two sons, Mr. John and Mr. Charles Claridge, carried on the good traditions of the house, and still uphold its good name. Mr. William Green was another leading light of the past, and his son and grandsons have built up a fine business. Others in Mr. Fred. Knight, Mr. S. Skinner, Mr. E. Claridge, etc., did their share in the good work of building up the trade of Rushden. How it has flourished is indicated in the pages of this issue, where particulars will be found of the leading houses and the nature of their productions. Their enterprise is all for the good of the town, and the announcements they make must have their effect in setting forth the qualify and character of Rushden's trade.

In the far corners of the Empire the growth and progress of the town will be noted, as well as in the more popular centres. Rushden has improved its productions out of all recognition of late years, and is now able to hold its own with any comer. It provides sound, reliable goods for the whole world, and for medium-class footwear is hard to beat as many of its competitors have discovered.

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