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Princess Anne visits Barkers shoes of Earls Barton

Updated on April 14, 2013

Princess Anne recently visited Barker Shoes of Earls Barton.

This is where I work and I thought some of you might be interested to see some of the many photo's that were taken. Also it will show you something about how a shoe factory works.

Local infants school children excitedly waiting

The Princess unveiling the new plaque

130 years

That is how long Barkers has been around and part of the reason for the royal visit. The other reason is that they won a gold award for export last year.

She was not the first royal visitor as her grandmother the Queen mother opened the new factory in 1987.

First some photo's of her being introduced to our bosses, salemen and buyers.

These were taken in the showroom, please note I personally repolished every shoe on show, it took ages. LOL

We all found the Princess to be really friendly, and our visitors seemed to enjoy meeting her as well

I like this pic' so natural.

Being presented with shoes made for her, even the socks have HRH printed on them. We used to use those stamps regularly when I was a girl.

Signing her life away!

Below Phil is explaining about the different types of leather we use, in the background is one of our "clickers", these are the people who cut the shoe parts out. Some are still cut by hand with a knife around a template. These days a lot are done with cutters and a press, just like making jam tarts.

Princess Anne being shown around the clicking room

The metal boxes behind are where the cutters are kept and are probably nearly as old as the firm.

Dawn demonstrating hand sewing. Lots of shoes have at least a few handsewn stitches in them and our moccasins are handsewn around the front. It's a tough job on the hands after a few hours!

Princess Anne in the closing room

At the front is Hazel, she is one of our closing room workers, that's the place were the uppers are put together. Hazel does all the work on our samples and one off orders.

Above Dennison chatting to the princess, note our MD Alan Pringle grinning at the camera.

Dennison is in charge of the area we call the "rough stuff". Here all the parts needed to assemble the shoes are got ready and collected together. Soles and heels are sorted out, cementing and staining of such and more.

Lasting room

The next stage is the lasting room, where the uppers are formed into shape around the lasts. Although we still use some wooden ones, most lasts are know made from heavy plastic materials like the one in Johns hand

My friend Loyd explaining about welt sewing. The welts are sewn to the underneath edges of the uppers.

This is Owen he works in the making room, he is also my next door neighbour. In this room they attach the soles and heels. Owen himself spends most of his day sole stitching, a groove is made in the sole, and stiches machined through to the welt above

After the shoes leave this room they enter the finishing room where the first process is to trim down and finish of the heels and edges, and after that the soles

Bottom scouring, of the soles that is!

James bottom scouring, the soles are scoured smooth with sandpaper and then stained by hand by these ladies

David my line manager explaining Roberts job, burnishing.It adds shine and shades of colour to the uppers.

The first stage in the shoeroom, Joan putting the socks in, a tricky job she makes look easy, I end up with glue everywhere!

This is where the shoes get there final polish, laces and such, and of course eventually end up in a box waiting for you to buy them.

This barmy woman is me, explaining how I finish off the Barker Black slippers.

Below the final stage before boxing, a last quality check, this is our youngest examiner.


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    • profile image

      aqeel bazai 

      5 years ago

      I like your stuff it's very shoft in my foot I like Barker......

    • dingyskipper profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Northamptonshire

      None of us really new what to expect, people come round and tell you how to behave, no bowing she is not near enough in line to the throne, don't speak unless spoken too. Do not shake hands unless asked. Call her mam as in jam. With armed security etc I think even the most dissinterested person ended up nervous.

      How different she seemed when she came, spoke to people in such a manner as to put at least most of them at ease, in fact she sticks so little to the tour laid out and speaks to so many people she is always behind schedule. Some of our guests were really impressed with her.

    • profile image

      The Writers Dog 

      7 years ago

      Thank you for a wonderful post. I am part of an endangered species in Australia - a Monarchist. Anything sensible to do with the Royal Family can only be voted up!


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