Northampton Museum and Art Gallery to put shoe archive online

One of the largest shoe collections in the world is to be catalogued online.

Northampton Museum and Art Gallery holds 12,000 pairs of shoes, from David Beckham's football boots to shoes dating back to 1000BC.

Northampton Borough Council hopes to put an image and description of every shoe online to "inspire" designers and generate income from image licensing.

Arts Council England said it would give audiences abroad the chance to "explore Northampton's shoe-making legacy".

Image caption Northampton Museum and Art Gallery has about 12,000 shoes in its archive dating back to 1000BC

Northampton first started making shoes in the 15th Century and by 1841 there were 1,821 shoemakers in the town.

Nowadays, just a handful of companies remain but they have proved successful at selling luxury and bespoke footwear around the world.

Image caption Leather and felt sole munitions boots were made in the town during World War Two to prevent sparks igniting them in the munitions factories

The museum has been collecting shoes since the 1870s and in 1997 the archive was recognised for its international importance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.

Bosses now hope to put the collection online by 2016, thanks to a £70,000 grant from the Arts Council.

Image caption Manufactured by Shellys, the Spice Girls-style platform became popular with young girls in the 1990s

Brandon Eldred, cabinet member responsible for museums, said: "This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the collection and share it with the widest possible audience.

"It is also an opportunity for us to tap into income streams that are open to museums to generate income from image licensing.

"At the moment we licence our images for a fee but can't satisfy all enquirers as the quality of images we have isn't always good enough."

Image caption This pair of cherry red Dr Marten's boots were created to celebrate the firm's 50th anniversary

Peter Knott, area director of Arts Council England, said: "Investing in digital technology will make it easier for people interested in shoe design to access the Northampton shoe collection.

"It will also allow international audiences to explore Northampton's shoe-making legacy."

Image caption The original JuJu Jellie shoes were made in Northampton

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