June 2012

Installation of approximately 160 shoes, boots, and heels relating to the once thriving shoe industry in Norwich has been underway at the Bridewell Museum. The gallery is divided into various subsections including materials, decoration, specials, marketing and women’s work. Drawers displaying decorative heels and component parts of leather shoes before they are assembled are also included.

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Project assistant Fi Hitchcock installing acrylic mounts

Also featured, are shoes manufactured by Start-rite whose history dates back as far as 1792. In a small shop behind Norwich market, James Smith started to offer off-the-peg, ready-made footwear to the public, the first in the country to do so.

Conservation work on the 160 objects, included reshaping of leather and textile uppers and straps in a specially constructed humidity chamber. Specialist cleaning and repairs to decorative fittings as well as component parts of the footwear like soles and heels was also carried out. Once treatments were completed, conservation staff created bespoke internal mounts to support the structure and shape of some of the shoes whilst on display. The acrylic mounts were designed in collaboration with the designer to afford maximum support and visual access.

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A pair of miniature gold kid leather evening sandals and a miniature emerald green shoe stamped Norvic for the October Shoe Fair held at the Grosvner Hotel, London 1950. The shoes were miniature versions of the current lines in production.

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