British Shoe Corporation
In 1953 Charles Clore bought Sears plc. and in the 1960s brought together all the shoe brands Sears had acquired as the British Shoe Corporation (BSC). This included Freeman Hardy & Willis and, with the acquisition of more well-known names, the BSC went on to become a huge company, selling one in four of the nation's shoes in the late 1980s.
CWS Wheatsheaf Works
This was a Co-operative shoe factory on Knighton Fields Road East that is supposed to have been one of the largest in the world when built in 1891 (it eventually employed 3,000 people). Whether this was true or not, the building is huge and has now been converted into flats.
Created as a co-operative venture by factory workers in 1886. Equity specialised in women’s footwear and was well-known for the distinctive design above the door of their factory on Western Road (now flats). In 2009 the company was the last shoe producer to close in the city.
This is a film about Equity Shoes produced by Wendy Freer of the Leicestershire Industrial History Society.
Freeman, Hardy & Willis
The photo of their factory on Rutland Street burning during an air raid is a famous local image from the Second World War. The company became part of the British Shoe Corporation and ceased trading by 1996.
Click here to find out more about the company.
Started as Lennards but renamed after the owners visited New York and were inspired by the Statue of Liberty to create a smaller version of the statue and place it on top of their factory on Walnut Street.
Click here to read more about the Liberty Building on the University of Leicester website.
Shoe Zone/Stead and Simpson
Still trading from their headquarters on Humberstone Road. The company was founded in 1917 under the name Bensonshoe and, among others, acquired the Leicester company Stead & Simpson in 2008.
Click here to visit the Shoe Zone website.