From Northants to the West End (via Broadway)
LAST week in London, the musical ‘Kinky Boots’ started its UK run at the Adelphi Theatre. And to celebrate the county’s still thriving footwear industry, a specially commissioned framed print was presented to the cast.
Based on the 2005 film about a Northamptonshire shoe factory taking a high-heeled approach to business, Kinky Boots was filmed (in part) locally and one of the UK’s oldest shoe companies, Northampton-based Trickers, was used as a film set.
Hand-made in Northampton since 1829, Trickers is particularly renowned for heavy brogue shoes and boots which have been adapted for both country walking and town use. Today, the Trickers factory in St Michael’s Road, Northampton, houses some 90 operatives producing around 1,000 pairs each week.
Export is now the lifeblood of the company and approximately 70 per cent of the shoes made at the St Michael’s Road factory are exported throughout the world, where they are accepted as being among the highest quality hand-made shoes originating from the UK.
Tricker’s has also been honoured in receiving the Royal Warrant from His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, and has been a supplier to his Royal Highness and his household for more than 20 years.
The company’s new managing director, Martin Mason, is passionate about opening up new markets and also recognises the responsibility the footwear industry has to young people in the business. He said: “Our association with the Kinky Boots film was that our 186-year-old factory was chosen as the primary filming location in Northampton.
“The ‘spin off’ to our business is that there has been more interest in working for Trickers – in fact, only last month we opened a dedicated training room for new shoemaking students and have now employed our first in-house trainer.”
Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP)’s Bright Futures campaign, launched in March, is giving local young people fresh insight into the many great career, training and apprenticeship opportunities across all major sectors, including the county’s footwear industry – an important contributor to the local economy with more than 25 manufacturers producing world-leading global brand footwear. The NEP says it is essential to attract and train more young people to alleviate the current footwear skills shortage which Bright Futures campaign is helping to address. Find out more, here.
Above – NEW TRICKERS: Tim Bagshaw, NEP’S head of business and innovation, with the Kinky Boots framed print.