|Janet and John, 1949|
Prompted by previous posts about Clarks shoes, Peter Cross of Auckland recalls being a Clarks guinea-pig.
Back in Castle Cary,
For a timeMy old mum, never one to hoard things, had possession of her grandmother’s wedding shoes. They’d only been worn once and were still in the box. I guess they would have been made in the 1880s and remarkably they didn’t even have a left or right foot but two identical ones.
Clarks made a feature of measuring the width of your foot as well as its length, and their products came in widths ABCD. So if, as in my case, one foot was slightly wider than the other, you could get a size 3C left and a 3D right. This innovation was much publicised at the time but was probably quietly dropped as the commercial implications became clear. I’ve never seen anything like it since.
In a sense
The only footwear that interested me and most boys then was football boots. Kids would spend all year talking about the sort of boot they anticipated getting as their main Christmas present. A continental boot (more a shoe really), made with soft black leather without a toecap and perhaps a flash of colour, was talked about a lot. There would be a brief honeymoon period when the new boots would be admired and cherished by their owner, before he started to covert another model; perhaps ones with removable studs.
Although indifferent to shoes, I’m sure I wasn’t the only boy to feel pissed off when Clarks started using some of the girls at our school as guinea pigs for their new products. It was overseen by Marion “Fanny” Felix who taught needlework and was also deputy head. Every so often a guy from the factory would arrive at school and fit out volunteers with various shoes. While still at the sensible end of the spectrum, these shoes could occasionally be more daring than a schoolgirl was supposed to wear. This guy would return from time to check on the shoes and there was a threat that some would be taken back to a lab and never returned, but in reality mostly they were given back for keeps.
Then one day it was announced that
Mind you, everyone in the manufacturing side of the business has lost their jobs in
|Ladybird Books' Peter and Jane|