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Assortment of Shoemaking Tools used by Northampton Shoemaker, Keith Raymond Coles.

Wood and metal

Northampton has a long history of shoemaking. By 1700 it had become the dominant trade of the town. Highly skilled craftsmen carried out every part of the process by hand. It was very much a family business run from home and many shoemakers were assisted by their wives, who sewed the uppers together.

Shoemaking flourished in Northampton for several reasons. There was plenty of leather from local cattle markets and the River Nene supplied water for tanning. Trade and distribution were helped by the town’s central location in the country. Local tanners, leather merchants and last makers were all key to the industry’s success.

Northampton Shoemaker, Keith Raymond Coles

Black and White Image of Shoemaker Keith Raymond Coles

Shoemaker Keith Raymond Coles

Starting work in in around 1940 at Padmore and Barnes shoes (now Church’s), Keith went on to work for his brother Glynn in the family shoe repair business - Coles Shoe Repairs in Kingsthorpe. Here he also taught his nephew Glynn the tricks of the trade and today Glynn continues to operate the business.

Image of Keith and nephew Glynn Coles

Image of Keith and nephew Glynn Coles at Coles Shoe Repairs, Kingsthorpe


Introduction, We are Northampton exhibition