The Rossendale Shoe & Slipper Story


The Rossendale Valley has played an important role in the industrial revolution. From it's rural forest environment it developed into an industrial force known throughout the world. With stone from its quarries being used in Trafaglar Square, the woolen industry and cotton industry exporting all over the world the footwear industry had good foundation on which to build.

With the footwear manufacturing industry almost gone it was felt that something should be done to record the importance of this industry for future generations to see the impact it had on the community of Rossendale.This web site tells the story of the footwear industry in Rossendale, a significant industry that provided thousands of jobs to many generations in the valley. From it's birth in 1874 through the boom years and through the sad decline that today leaves only two small manufactures left. The industry however was much more than the manufacturers, it had a comprehensive supply network, its own union strong enough to stand independent from the national union with almost 10,000 members and training centres that provided skilled technicians. With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund a small enthusiastic group people have work to create this online resource.

If you worked in the industry or had relatives who did and would like to share your stories please contact us.

The birth of the slipper trade in Rossendale was a result of the felt industry being brought into the valley in 1854 by Edward Rostron from Leeds. This industry provided the inspiration for entrepreneurs to capitalise on a new market - slippers. The availability of raw materials, a labour force together with disused cotton mills provided the right ingredients for an industry that would last for over 140 years and export it's shoes and slipper throughout the world.