Rossendale Footwear Heritage
The Rossendale Valley’s fascinating but little known history of footwear manufacturing is now being shared for the first time with a wide and diverse audience.
The IT Zone is a small CIC that provides IT training and skills programming for older people and the unemployed. Its director had previously worked in the industry and realised how little people know about it today.
From its birth out of the declining cotton industry around 1870 to its height in the 1950s, this project aims to tell the story of the footwear industry. Now almost non-existent, at one time it employed tens of thousands of people producing millions of pairs of shoes every year. This project offers those who worked or had family in the industry the opportunity to share their memories.
Newly recruited volunteers carry out research and receive oral history training to capture around 40 stories. A new Rossendale Footwear Heritage website has been created , with a DVD and booklet being distributed locally. A range of presentations in community venues are being delivered to nearly 200 people.
Peter Dunn, project director, said:
‘Our heritage project has been the most challenging fun we have ever had. There has been real passion shown for the project in our community’.