The Shoe Museum in Street, Somerset, England, was a unique exhibition space that showcased an extensive collection of footwear, spanning from the Roman era to the present day. Established in 1951, the museum was dedicated to the history of the Clark family, founders of the renowned shoe company C. & J. Clark, and the development of shoemaking in Street. It featured a rich array of shoes, including embroidered satin Georgian shoes, Victorian button boots, Roman sandals, and even the last designed for Princess Diana’s wedding slipper.
The museum not only displayed shoes from the 200 years of C. & J. Clark’s history but also included machinery used in footwear production and a variety of shop display showcards from different eras. A reconstructed 19th-century outworker’s cottage interior provided visitors with a glimpse into the lives of those who worked in the industry. The museum was also a place of learning, offering family trails and a children’s corner.
Sadly, The Shoe Museum closed its doors to the public on 27 September 2019. However, its legacy continues as the Alfred Gillett Trust, established in 2002, took possession of the museum’s collection. This charitable organisation is dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of the Clark family and C. & J. Clark Ltd.
Looking forward, a new museum is planned to open in 2025 in Street, focusing on the history of shoemaking and the Clarks company. This upcoming museum, commissioned by the Alfred Gillett Trust, will explore various themes related to shoemaking, from its evolution and geology to its cultural histories. Designed by Nissen Richards Studio, the museum will feature exhibitions and spaces dedicated to community engagement and learning, continuing the story of local shoemaking innovation.