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British Industrial History

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Clarks Shoes

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April 1946.
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C. and J. Clark Ltd, better known as Clarks, is a British shoe manufacturer and retailer based in Street, Somerset

of Street, Somerset. Telephone: Street 250. Cables: "Clarks, Street, Somerset". London Showrooms: 177 Regent Street. Telephone: Regent 4864. (1947)

1825 Cyrus Clark started tanning sheepskin rugs.

1828 He was joined by his brother James Clark

1830 James started making sheepskin slippers

1829 First factory was opened in Street, Somerset.

1833 James Clark became a partner in the business and it was then known as C. and J. Clark

1842 12,000 pairs shoes made each year.

1851 Exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition with elongating goloshes and sheepskin rugs.

1855 William Stephens Clark joined the business as an apprentice

1856 Production soon flourished, helped by the purchase of recently invented Singer sewing machines. An early marketing success was William Clark's introduction of the 'Hygienic line', a range which followed the natural shape and line of the foot, and so established Clarks reputation for producing foot-friendly shoes.

1863 Continuing losses meant outside investors had to be brought in

1869 Purchased Jacob's Tanyard at Northover and the following year they set up Clark, Son and Morland to handle the rug, fellmongering and basil tanning part of the business.

1872 New partnership formed between James and William Stephens Clark, his son

1889 Listed at Street 'Clark, Cyrus and James, manufacturers of boots and shoes, High Street' [1]

1889 When James retired, a new partnership was formed between William Stephens Clark and his brother Francis Joseph Clark

1890 John Bright Clark visits South Africa to develop the business

1898 Joseph Law, the foreman of the Making and Finishing departments was killed in an accident with one of the lifts

1898 John Bright Clark visits Australia and New Zealand to promote the business

1903 Became a limited company

1908 Opened a London office and showroom

1908 John Walter Bostock joins the company

Clarks expanded rapidly during the early years of the 20th Century under the leadership of John, Roger and Alice Clark. They introduced new technologies and materials, took full advantage of the economies of mass production, and responded to changing fashions and the emergence of the female ankle.

1914 New plant for making wood heel blocks

1918 New plant for making lasts

1928 John Walter Bostock, William Bancroft Clark and Wilfrid George Hinde appointed directors of the company

1928 John Anthony Clark and his wife Caroline Pease appointed directors of the company

1935 Bought Lane and Robinson of Bristol

1936 John Anthony Clark appointed a director

WWII Contracted with the Bristol Aeroplane Co to make parts for Hercules engines

The end of the Second World War saw dramatic expansion for Clarks as they moved into world markets.

1947 British Industries Fair Advert for Clarks Shoes. Manufacturers of Ladies' and Children's Shoes, Sandals and Fleece-Lined Footwear by all modern processes. Half sizes and graduated Widths. Names of Export Representatives on Request. (Leather Goods Section - Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 428) [2]

1948 No 4 Factory opened

In the early 1950s Nathan Clark introduced the Desert Boot - simple, comfortable footwear worn by army officers in Cairo - which soon gained global popularity. Other design classics followed, including a hugely successful range of children's shoes.

Over the decades the company invested heavily in technical research and the development of designs that would bring comfort to the wearer.

Clarks achieved significant growth, both in the UK and in America, and is a well-established retail chain.

2008 C. and J. Clark's headquarters are still based in Street, although manufacturing is no longer operated there.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1889 Kelly's Directory of Somerset
  2. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 63; and p62
  • [1] Extract adapted from Clarks Website
  • Trademarked. A History of Well-Known Brands - from Aertex to Wright's Coal Tar by David Newton. Pub: Sutton Publishing 2008 ISBN 978-0-7509-4590-5
  • Clarks of Street (1825-1950)