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Thursday, 28 May 2015

Niggling

I have had a query niggling away at the back of my mind for most of this week. Online news is great for catching up with 'what's on' in the highways and byways of distant memory.

The old market town of Clitheroe, Lancs. was the focus of the niggle. I read that the so-called Castle Museum (and my personal bone of contention) has a 'new' display. Obviously, at my age I reckon to know more about clogs and clogging than younger folk. One of the younger folk 'organises' museum displays. Apols for sounding rather meow. The latest display purports to be about the town's history of clog making.

Could I remember the names I needed, I could not! My mind teased me with memories of various shops, so I did some research. There's no need to spend £££s when you know how to do research. I also contacted someone who still lives in the area and is older than me. She had a discussion with her husband and came up with the names of three local shoemakers.

  • Dan Lord
  • Sowerbutts
  • Richard Turner

I remember Lord's shop, they sold Clark's shoes and you had your feet measured for width and fit in a wooden device. (Shoes always had to have growing room).

Richard (Dick) Turner was special. His shop window displayed hand-made clogs and pictures of his work in Africa.

Richard was the last Mayor of the old Clitheroe Borough Council, from 1972 to 1974, and one-time champion shoe repairer of All England.
 The original shop was opened in 1910 by his father.

Time for another quote, this time from a Dalesman publication -

“In 1962 a doctor in the south of England visited Burnley at the suggestion of a colleague, Grace Ingham, doing leprosy work in Africa. He sought someone who could make a clog sole from the block. A newspaper appeal reached Richard Turner, son of a clogger and himself a seatsman who had taken into shoe repairing such skill as to be voted ‘Britain’s Champion Shoe Repairer’ in 1951 and 1961. As a result of their discussion, Mr. Turner went to the Oji River Leper Colony on the River Niger, Biafra, in January 1963 and for six weeks gave basic training with his stock knives to the lepers, using the plentiful local wood. A type of wood-soled sandal was made to replace the rubber-tyre shoes the lepers wore.

Those native African patients needed something to support their injured feet. Dick gave them lessons in his own time and at his own expense, teaching them to shape wood and fasten uppers to them. Bisana and zigba replaced alder and beech. I have since been in touch with Dr. Felton Ross of the All-Africa Leprosy and Rehabilitation Training Centre at Addis Ababa, who praises Dick’s work. He told me that, due to the acute difficulties of foot disorders, a sandal type of clog, very similar to the modern Scholl’s sandal, is preferred and is very helpful in healing foot ulcers.

Mr Turner … made a film of what he saw. When shown locally on his return, it made £200 for LEPRA. Two years later he went to Uganda on a similar mission with his stock knives. Those knives will never wear out, though they do require sharpening….

Dr. Ross, working with them in Biafra and Ethiopia, has reported on the paediatric value of what we may call clogs to his patients.”


Traditionally, in Lancashire, a toddler's first footwear was a pair of clogs.

1 comment:

Joy said...

I remember going to Clark's and having my feet measured all the way through childhood and early teenager-hood too. No fashion shoes for me!
J x