- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Frank connolly
- Location of story:
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 06 December 2003
It is bizarre that services commonly available in the war years are no longer here in this affluent age. As the child of working class parents at the lower end of the income scale I had hand-made footwear throughout WW2 and for some time afterwards.
In Lancahire, clogs were the ordinary footwear of many working class people especially for those who worked in cotton mills. I remember, clear as day, going into the Co-op on my way home from school and the cobbler trying the fit the wooden soles to my feet and marking where he needed to cut away more wood. This took only moments and I was off home. It seems that I went there daily for a week or two - not sure - memory fades. One day, the cobbler told me to tell my mum that the soles were a proper fit and were ready for her to call in to choose the style of upper leathers. I remember having two styles, one was a low style, like a shoe, which could be slipped on, but I seem to remember a strap across the instep. The other was a lace-up boot which came up above the ankle bone.
Both styles had a steel band around the front of the wooden sole which protected the wood from damage but also clamped the front of the leather upper. Underneath there was a choice of a rubber (or leather?) soles - a U-shaped piece about an inch wide around the sole and heels which varied - a circular heel, a rubber heal like that of an ordinary shoe, and shoe heel with a large hole in the centre.
The alternative was “clog-irons” - U shaped strips of iron (wrought iron?). Pieces of shaped metal - called “cleggs” - if I recall correctly - were nailed around the back of the heel. Iron shod clogs much were more interesting than the rubber soled ones. You could make sparks by sharply striking the pavement and in winter snow would collect on the soles and one could - with care - build up packed snow to a thickness of several inches. Of course, metal shod clogs acted like steel skates for sliding on ice or packed and polished snow.
After the war, richer parents bought factory produced shoes rather than clogs individually fitted to children's feet and the kids with shoes looked down on the those with clogs. Kids with clogs weren't allowed to play football - "Clogs damage the ball and are dangerous!".
Pre-war divisive class distinctions had re-started.
© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.