A Guide to British Shoes 23rd January 2015

A Guide to British Shoes

We take a look at the history behind some of our favourite British shoe brands.

A Guide to British Shoes


British made shoes are revered for their quality, style and traditional craftsmanship. Their on-going popularity is a testament to the skilled manufacturing processes that have increased the popularity of British shoes around the world. The tendency for British shoes to adapt over time and fully embrace new designs without losing their unique flair is another reason why we at Pediwear are so passionate about British shoe brands.


The manufacturing process is what gives a British shoe its character and longevity. Many shoe manufacturers in Britain favour the Goodyear welt construction method, which is said to be one of the most labour intensive yet strongest forms of shoe manufacturing available. Gaining its name from the creator of the mechanised welting system, shoes with a Goodyear welt have excellent water resistant properties due to a strip of leather (the welt) being stretched over the insole and the upper, with the layered construction increasing the shoes strength and resilience greatly. This construction method also means that reparations to the shoes can be made easily and quickly, meaning your shoes will look as good as new in no time!


Northampton became synonymous with shoe making in the 19th century. The large cattle market held within the town gave shoe makers access to an abundance of high quality raw materials, and the central location gave excellent scope for distributing goods around the country. A number of our favourite British shoe manufacturers hailed from this region and are still going strong today.




The humble beginnings of the Barker shoe company can be traced back to a small 'workhouse' at the bottom of Arthur Barker's garden. There he would manufacture shoes by hand, perfecting his craftsmanship with the finest leathers he could get his hands on. In 1880 he thought of a way to increase production on a fairly small scale, which involved outsourcing some of his work to other local people who could craft parts of the shoes from their own homes. In 1905 Barker's three sons began working for him at his new factory. During the First World War, Barker was involved in supplying the British army with boots – a testament to their quality to say the least.


Today Barker is a brand known worldwide. The shoes are high in demand for people wanting to encapsulate the quintessential British look wherever they go. Barker's range of footwear encompasses country, informal and formal styles. The Arnold remains popular with Pediwear customers along with the more contemporary Grant and Woody.


Crockett & Jones


Founded in Northampton in 1879, Crocket & Jones footwear grew from a £200 grant given to brothers in law James Crockett and Charles Jones. Over the years the company went from strength to strength. Their first factory consisted of 20 staff members whereas nowadays they export shoes all over the world to countries in Europe, Asia and the USA. The company was even awarded the prestigious Queens Award for Export Achievement in 1990.


Since the first Crockett & Jones shop was opened in London in 1997, there have been a number of new shop openings in New York, Paris, Birmingham and Brussels. To this day the original Jones family still oversee all production, which ensures that standards remain high and the quality of the shoes produced can be assured.


Across the Crockett and Jones range it would be difficult to pick out favourites – they are all such wonderful shoes. However, the Westbourne, Tetbury and Lowndes are so very well liked with our customers they are constantly in demand.




Another Northampton institution, Loake has firmly established itself as a giant of British shoe manufacturing. Loake shoes are hand crafted, primarily using the tenacious Goodyear welt construction method. The shoes are still made in Kettering in the very same factory that was set up by the Loake brothers in 1894, preserving the fine quality that has remained unaltered in all that time. Back then, the factory was considered one of the most advanced shoe factories of its time, employing over 300 workers and serving as a benchmark for all modern factories at that time.


Loake are still going strong today and have estimated that they have produced around 50 million shoes since the company was founded all those years ago. In 2011 they opened their first Loake shop in London, a long running ambition for the company.


Loake produce a wide range of footwear, including contemporary (Design Loake), formal and country styles. The Loake Aldwych is a firm favourite for Pediwear customers requiring a formal shoe, More recently the Hyde boot has become popular and of course we all love the classic Loake Chester brogue in all it's various colours and sole options.


Alfred Sargent


Alfred Sargent are an established family run shoe making company who's ownership has spanned four generations since its conception in 1899. Each shoe is hand crafted in the same Northamptonshire factory where production began over a hundred years ago and is crafted to the highest quality using the Goodyear welt construction method. Even though the business has been passed down from generation to generation, the high level of attention to detail and care has been preserved and is apparent in all new pairs of Alfred Sargent shoes crafted today.


Alfred Sargent are concentrating on producing a smaller range of higher quality shoes in their Exclusive and Country ranges. However, there are a wide range of styles available for retailers willing to invest in MTO (made to order) shoes – in both the exclusive range and the very fine Hand-grade range.


Pediwear favourites are the Cambridge and Hannover boots from the country range – and the exquisite Adelaide Brogue Moore in antique cherry in their exclusive range.

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