Acknowledgements & Introduction

The Rossendale Valley was once synonymous with footwear sadly over recent years almost all manufacturing and supply businesses have closed down. An industry that once employed thousands of people sadly now only employs less a few. Mills that once dominated the valley have been demolished and people who worked in the mills have been dispersed into other industries or retirement.

Most people who had any connection with the footwear industry agree the decline of the slipper industry is very sad. The industry provided work for many generations where it was not uncommon to find families working together as their parents had before them. Many people look back on their time in the factories as happy times, a time when you worked hard and played hard, when you could move from one factory to another in the same day, a time when many spent their entire working life in one firm and a time when people felt secure in work. Who would think that it would almost all end one day?

The aim of this project was to tell the shoe story from the people who worked in the industry, to celebrate the footwear heritage and ensure future generations have reference / access to information on an industry that once saved the Rossendale Valley. Within each article are a few images. To view more images, video and sound clips please visit the 'photo' menu.

From the early pioneers emerging the felt industry this story traces the development of the industry over 130 years of an industry that put Rossendale on the world stage.

I would like to thank everyone who helped with their stories, information and artifacts that can now be shared with the community. I would especially like to thank The National Lottery who without their funding and support this project could never have happened.