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Classic Solovair 8 eye boot produced since 1960
Church's works in St James Road, Northampton
Logo for Church's
Crockett & Jones factory, view from Magee Street
Northampton and Northampton factory shoe shops part 1 INTRODUCTION
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10 Northampton factory shoe shops:
High quality, hand made shoes and boots, seconds, samples, end of range
– pay half or even 1/3 normal retail shop price - 45 minutes drive from premises
1 shop: Joseph Cheaney, 33 miles from premises at Desborough
7 factory shoe shops in Northampton City Centre
3 factory shoe shops close together in Earls Barton and Woolaston (take A45 from junction 15 of M1).
Irchester narrow gauge railway museum and country park one mile from Woolaston.
Visit Althorp Country House on the way to Northampton– last resting place of Diana (open July, August only from 12 noon to 5pm)
Stanford Hall (guided tours only, 11 to 4pm) would be a slight detour on the way to Northampton or would be a good fit with a visit just to Joseph Cheaney factory shop in village of Desborough.
Kettering Prosperous market town with many good restaurants and some good attractions.Would be a good fit with a visit to just Joseph Cheaney alone in Desborough or the last leg of either of my two factory tours before visiting Cheaney.
Also worth visiting in Northampton (as part of city centre factory shoe shop tour):
78 Derngate - Charles Rennie Mackintosh house (closed Mondays)
Guildhall Gothic revival architecture and interior decoration. (Make sure you watch my video on Church’s profile page to see how to get there and where to park).
Art gallery and Museum (re-opens after refurbishment in late 2018) )(Video on Church’s page) 12,000 shoes, from ancient Egypt onwards and a re-creation of a shoe factory.
Abington Park Museum. Quirky, quaint museum housed in 500 year old Manor House in a beautiful park with a lake. (Accessible by car.) 4 miles from Crocket & Jones.
Note: for internauts who are not my customers but wanting to come on the train (from London for example) and do either of my tours, you can hire a car at Enterprise rent-a-car at Northampton train station here
Unbelievable choice and bargains in luxury quality shoes! Northampton is worth visiting chiefly to visit the shoe factory shops in order to buy quality shoes or boots at knockdown prices. I recommend particularly the new soft leather sneakers, Solovair (the original Doc Martens) and dessert boots and Goodyear welted shoes and boots starting at the unbelievable price of £70 at NPS in Wollaston (Tour 2 - outlying villages). Also on Tour 2, a fantastic range, especially ladies shoes, at Barkers in Earls Barton and Doc Martens in Wollaston. On tour 1, the City Centre, 6 factory shops where you can buy beautiful quality shoes (seconds)for just sligthly more than half of their West End or online prices. Note: only the shoe factory quality inspectors would be able to tell you why they are seconds. I have included some other attractions in order to make the visit to Northampton a complete day out.
The 3 attractions at Derngate The Guildhall is mid 19th century gothic revival and has a finely decorated interior, particularly the stained glass windows. The Art gallery and Museum are very interesting, particularly for the history of shoes and shoe making (re-opening after refurbishment end 2018). 78 Derngate, the Charles Rennie Macintosh house is on the city centre factory tour 1. route. See my videos on Church's factory shop profile for my HD videos of these attractions, how to get to these and also, find parking space. Abington Park, with its Museum, semi-tame squirrels, exotic treees, aviary and a great indoor/outdoor cafe is accessible by car and not far from the last three factory shops on my no. 1 tour. See my videos for Abingdon Park on the Crocket and Jones profile page.
The best shoes in the world! Northampton is all about shoes and has been since the middle ages. In 1841 there were 1,871 shoemakers in the town. Forget Italy. The best shoes in the world are made in Northampton. You can get some unbelievable bargains at the factory shops. You will sometimes pay a half or even a third of retail prices. Some are supposed to be seconds but when I lived in London (a long time ago!) I took 4 pairs of “seconds” I'd bought from Crocket and Jones to a shoe repair shop run by a Greek family who had been shoemakers in Greece for generations to have rubber soles and heels stuck on (makes the shoes last longer in the rain – although not advised by the shoe firms). They told me that they had looked and looked but could not find any faults. Now that everyone has satnav it is a lot easier to navigate round the back streets of Northampton to find the factory shops. There seems to be something of a revival in Northampton shoe factories. For the factory shops I’m sure it has something to do with the advent of satnav making it much easier to visit.
19 shoe factories! There are actually around 19 factories making hand made leather shoes but not all of them have factory shops. Here is google maps showing you where all the factories with shops are: (Note: the profile for Franklin footwear is a hoax. It does not exist) Not shown are Joseph Cheaney, 14 miles from the centre, NPS/Solovair and the Doc shop (a stone’s throw from each other), 9 miles from the centre and Barkers, 6 miles out. Chris’s tip: if you are after the original Doc Martens, go to NPS first and then visit Doc Martens just round the corner. Don’t buy until you have visited both. NPS has other styles as well. If you want really high quality, heavy duty, country brogues or boots, either visit Trickers in the City Centre shoe quarter of Northampton or make the pilgrimage to Joseph Cheaney in Desborough.
See my HD factory shop vidoes I have visited each factory shop to make a video which can be found on the factory shop profile.Click here for the Norhampton shoe factory shops part 2 LISTINGS. All the shops except Church's, Edward Green and John Lobb let me film. (I don't hold it against Church, Green and Lobb, I just turned up on the day without giving prior notice). All of the shops sell classic brogues and loafers, buckled shoes (proper name “Monk” shoes), elastic sided chelsea boots, oxfords and derby boots. In each store you will find some fairly conservative styles but usually there are a few more “look at me” designs with contrasting colours or leather finishes (especially at Jeffery-West – very rock ‘n’ roll!). What proportion of each you will find depends on the shop. There are also some factories which specialize more in very rugged and durable shoes and boots. (Look at the “styles” in my shop profiles and my videos). Ladies shoes are generally the same styles as men's but with more flamboyand finishes or detailing. Check out the silver brogues at NPS! In the reviews on Trip Advisor or google maps, no-one ever mentions the price in their reviews. In 2018 the pretty standard price for seconds in most of the shops is £180 (versus around £420 or £450 for retail perfects. Barkers have some cheaper than this and NPS is the real bargain shop for Goodyear welted quality Northampton shoes. Some seconds at £70! (See my video on the NPS page)John Lobb is an exception. £550 for seconds! But John Lobb is a super luxury brand.
Which construction? Do you want shoes with Blake stitching, Goodyear welt or cemented contruction? Do you know the difference? This article will explain.
Northampton style Goodyear welted - the best! All the factories in Northampton use Goodyear welt stitching. For very rugged country shoes and boots, Veldtshoen constructions can be used. In Goodyear, the uppers are turned under the welt (a sort of intermediate sole that the sole is then glued and stitched to) and then stitched through the welt and the uppers. In Veldtshoen, the uppers are turned outwards and then stitched. The idea is that the shoe is then more impervious to water. Not to be confused with Goodyear storm welted where an extra ridge of leather is sewn into the welt. This excellent article explains Goodyear Storm welt versus normal Goodyear welt Goodyear-welted shoes and boots (and Veldtshoen) will last much longer. As long as the uppers are kept in good condition, the soles can be renewed many times. This article explains.
Old soles can be removed and new leather (or Dainite) soles can be stitched on. All of the factories will “refurbish” their own shoes for around £100 as long as the uppers are kept in good condition. This means removing the old sole and heel and sewing on new ones and polishing the uppers. (See following paragraphs) They can use the original factory last that the shoe was made on. Count around 3 weeks. Busy Bees in Newmarket can also do this for you for around £70 (and is recommended by the Northampton shoe firms.)
There is a repair company called the Golden Boot who can send your shoes back to the original factory where it will be repaired on the original last and a new sole stiched on. This costs around £100.
Having spent a week compiling my guide to the Northampton shoe factory shops, looking at web pictures of the stock, I am suffering from severe shoe lust. Check out these babies Country brogue Veltdshoen, The Land Rover Defender of shoes!
Planning your trip
Make sure you have had a proper browse of my profile page click hereto go to the listings page.
The two tours. Here I give you two possible tours. Choose one or the other. It would not be possible to do both in a day. On your own it might be a bit of a schlepp to do them all but if there is two or more of you they would be great fun I think. (Definitely a thing to do for internaut users coming on the train from London or elsewhere and hiring a car at the station or inhabitants of towns near to Northampton). For my customers, if you don’t want to traipse around all the shops in my suggested tours, you could just visit Joseph Cheaney in Desborough, 33 miles away, about the same distance as Northampton. The stately homes and gardens of Stanford Hall and Kellmarsh Hall, both open in the summer with guided tours are on this route (to Cheaney's) and/or you could visit the several attraction at nearby Kettering with lunch at one of the many excellent restaurants there. This would make a very good day out. See my profile page for Jospeh Cheaney for more details
Factories in the centre of Northampton (Tour 1)
Click here for My own custom google map showing the 6 shoes shops and Northampton attractions as part of the tour.: (Zoom in to ignore Cheaney in Desborough)
If you take in the Rennie Mackintosh museum and/or the Northampton museum and art gallery when it reopens in late 2018 on your tour you could have lunch either at the cafe in Abingdon Park after Trickers and/or Crockett and Jones in the shoe quarter or in Kettering if you decide to visit Cheaney as well. This also would make a very full day out I think. Or you may want to simply browse my profile pages and make your own choice of which shops or attractions you will visit.
All the factory shops in the City Centre except for Edward Green in their stark white modernist factory are in Victorian or Edwardian factories in the back streets. Parking is free and fairly easy. At worst you might have to park a street or two away from the factory. Bear in mind that you are not seeing anything like the current range of the factory and the style you really like may not available in your size. The shoes are seconds, samples and end of range. That’s why they are so cheap - although NPS, Barker and Cheaney all do a separate full range as well, a bit cheaper than normal retail price. Don’t get carried away if you want real bargains, stick to the cheaper seconds. There are plenty of other shops.
Fittings Ask the assistant to measure your feet and tell you what your fitting is. E is Narrow, F is average and G is wide. Bear in mind that even if you have the correct size and fitting, some styles might still not fit well. Don’t settle. Get the style you like that fits like a glove and at the right price.
Saturday and Sunday opening Most shoe factory shops are open on week days only but some are open on Saturday and Sunday. Open on Saturday in the City Centre shops are Church's (to 2pm), Jeffery-West (to 4.30 pm), Trickers (to 2.30pm), Crockett and Jones (to 4 pm). In the "outliers": Joseph Cheaney in Desborough (to 4pm), Barker in Earl's Barton (to 4pm), NPS in Wollaston (to 4pm) and Doc Martens in Wollaston (to 5pm) Opening on Sundays: NPS in Wollaston (11am to 4pm) and the Doc Shop in Wollaston (10am to 5pm) Note: Crockett and Jones only open Friday afternoon and Saturday until 4 pm.
Don't settle! No need to settle because the factories that are round the centre of Northampton are all fairly close to each other with similar opening times. So why not browse several factory shops or even all of them before making your choice? On this city centre tour there are 6 altogether (if you include Cheaney on the way back to my premises) and often, apart from Cheaney’s they are only half a mile apart. This allows you to move on to the next one if you don’t find exactly what you want or you could do the whole tour and then decide which shop has your best choice and return to it. Another option would be to just look at my profile pages especially my video of the shop, decide which shops are your style and just visit those.
Start at Church's From my premises you will usually come in on the M1 then the A4500 which at one point turns into the ring road around Northampton. Church’s (aka Churches or Church shoes) is just on the ring road as you come in. So that would be the logical place to start.
Visit the 3 attractions in Derngate after Church'sNothing that grabs you in Church’s or not in your size, or too expensive? No sweat. Now you have to decide if you want to visit the Charles Rennie Macintosh house and/or the Museum and Art gallery (reopens late 2018) on your tour. If you do, Derngate is another mile and a quarter further,on the ring road (on the way to Edward Green). Watch out for that unexpected loop back in the ring road. (Watch my video on Church's page). Help! Where is it taking me? It's looping back to a spot just a few yards further on in the ring road. It can be daunting at peak times if you have not driven it before (or seen my video).
Edward Green, Jeffery-West, Trickers, Crockett and Jones If not, carry on for another 2 miles round the ring road to Edward Green. Keep your wits about you and keep a close eye on the satnav because there is a funny loop back at one point in the ring road, all the other drivers know where they are going and treat it like a race track. (See my video on the Church profile page) But once you are at Green's you can relax because if you still have not found the pair, just 230 metres further on, is Jeffrey West. Still no luck? Try Trickers which is about half a mile away and half of the journey is still on the same street. If no luck with Trickers, try Crocket and Jones if it’s Friday afternoon or Saturday till 4 pm. It’s my favourite shop, but this one really is in the back streets. (Beware, another “Churches” shows on google maps nearby but there is no shop there, it’s the factory only). Zoom right in on google maps with your phone so you can follow the streets. Check out my link for google maps how to get there. The other thing is that Crocket and Jones only open on Friday afternoon and Saturday from 9am to 4 pm. So you might have to give them a miss. Determined to see all the shops have to offer? OK, navigate out through those funny back streets to the Kettering Road (main road), turn right and John Lobb is just another half a mile away. (So only a mile away from Trickers). Be warned though, seconds (around £550 in 2018)at the John Lobb factory shop are only bargains if you are a die hard afficionado of this super luxury brand.
Abingdon Park While you are in this part of town, you might want to take a break from shoe hunting and visit the quaint Abington Park museum set in a lovely park.
Joseph Cheaney 18 miles further on I think you should have found what you wanted by now but you could continue north for 18 miles to Joseph Cheaney in Desborough to conclude the tour as it’s on the way home to my premises especially if you want some of the country brogues and boots in Veldtshoen construction or Goodyear storm welt that Cheaney do really well. (They do all the other styles as well and they have some great ladies shoes). That finishes our tour of the factory shops in the centre of Northampton.
The Outlier tour (Tour 2)
– 4 factories on the outskirts of Northampton (start at junction 15 of M1 for simplicity)
3 shops close together. Now for the outliers and we’ll do this as a separate tour and on this one we will visit four shops (if you count Cheaney's 18 miles further on), all between 18 and 6 miles out from the centre with the advantage that we are avoiding the ring road in Northampton that started the other tour. We are just skirting the outskirts all the way. We will start at the southern most point of the tour at junction 15 of the M1. (NOT junction 15a which my customers will come to first). This might be a bit counterintuitive because we are passing Northampton heading south to reach that junction. But bear with me because by doing it that way we are staying on dual carriageway virtually all the way to Barkers, which makes everything much simpler (and probably faster as well). At junction 15 take the A45, direction Wellingborough. The first sign to follow at the roundabout is "Northampton" but this soon gives way to signs for Wellingborough. If you are on your own, as soon as you can pull over into a lay- by, reset your satnav for NN6 0NT for Barkers or NPS at Woolaston (if you are skipping Barkers because it's a Sunday)
NPS and Doc Shop both open on Sunday! Barker have one of the biggest selections of all the factory shops on display, especially in ladies shoes (see my video on their profile page). Now don’t buy anything at NPS yet if you want Solovair or Docs because 500 metres away is the Doc shop with some very similar stock. Have a look at both for style, quality. and price before you decide (or look at my videos). In typical Northampton factory style it’s a bit round the houses to get to the Doc shop from NPS but even then it’s only a quarter of a mile. If you own a jet pack it’s only 190 meters as the crow flies. Next door to the Doc shop in the high street is Awberry’s tea room in a very nice, peaceful setting (see my video). So having had a nice cup of tea and a slice and fondled our purchases if we have already made at least one, if you are my customer or you are just an internaut living in Rugby, Coventry, Leicester, Market Harborough etc. etc. you can then set the satnav for Joseph Cheaney in Desborough, 31 miles away but on the way home to my premises just another 33 miles away. Or head back the way you came via the M1. Use this link to go to the LISTINGS page which lives links to all the individual factory shop profiles.
Display of shoes at John Lobb's, London
A diagram of a shoe with welted construction
Royal Warrants of John Lobb
Northampton Guildhall Great Hall