The Shoe Museum, based in Street, Somerset, houses more than 1500 shoes from Roman to modern day. The Museum also tells the story of Clarks from its beginnings in the early 19th century. There are four galleries which showcase the development of the footwear industry in Street and items on display include shoemaking machinery and tools, advertising materials and hundreds of shoes. The earliest shoe on display is a 2nd century girls’ sandal sole and there are Roman shoes which were found locally near Langport. Medieval shoes from London are also on show. They have a beautiful collection of Georgian and Victorian shoes made from a wide range of materials such as satin, silk brocade, linen, wool and kid leather. There are also buckles and Edwardian side button boots and high lace boots. A selection of footwear from around the world includes an Emir’s slipper from Nigeria, a Chinese shoe for a bound foot, kub kobs worn in Turkish baths, and Finnish shoes made from birch bark.
Clarks shoes include a Brown Petersburg, which were the first footwear made by Clarks, shoes from 1885, and the earliest women’s shoe from 1856. Items from the extensive Clarks archives are alsoon display and visitors can see the original 1828 indenture of James Clark, who with his elder brother, Cyrus, founded the footwear business. A replica outworker’s cottage in the museum shows the tools and equipment used to make shoes by hand and there is also the original office where members of the Clarks family worked. Highlights of the museum include the last made for Princess Diana’s wedding slipper, the first clogs worn by Gracie Fields, a replica of the shoes worn by the Queen when she married Prince Philip, shoes designed by Joanna Lumley, Tracey Emin and Terry de Havilland, and a 1923 Perugia ladies’ gold, black and silver bar shoe.
Due to the age of the building there is limited disabled access. Only one wheelchair user at a time can be given access to the first floor due to fire regulations. Only Assistance dogs are welcome. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult. There are no toilets in the museum but there are toilets less than a minute away at Clarks Outlet Village. Guided tours can be arranged for groups, please enquire as to the cost.
Location : 40 High Street, Street, Somerset BA16 0EQ
Transport: Castle Cary (National Rail) then bus. Bus Routes : 19, 29, 37, 38, 375 and 376 stop close by.
Opening Times : Monday to Friday 10:00 - 16:45
Tickets : Free, donations welcome.
Tel: 01458 842243