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Article from Ann Cooper.
The History of the Tecnic Shoe Company

Aerial photograph of new factory in Bedford Road front entrance
New Tecnic Factory

factory frontage
The frontage of the factory.

The first general Meeting of the Company was held on 12th February 1915 and the following directors were appointed:-

Mr Frederick Hawkes

(Director of Hawkes Shoe Machinery)
Walter C. Tarry
Samuel Horace Wright (Director of a cut sole company)
Sidney Fox  (A local schoolmaster)

It was resolved to lease a factory in Harborough Road, Rushden for the commencement of production, Mr. Hawkes being the first chairman. After a year’s trading a dividend was declared of 10% on the original shares and that there was £500 to be carried to the reserve.

In February 1916 Mr. Wright resigned from the company and after the first year’s trading the share capital was increased by 1000 additional shares and also Mr. W. C. Tarry was appointed Managing Director for five years.

It was also noted that Mr. Fox was killed in action in September 1917.

In November 1918 the capital was again increased, this time to £9000 and discussions took place on the extension of the current factory or the building of a new factory. A new factory was decided on in Bedford Road, Rushden.

Extract from a Military Tribunal in May 1918

William Chas Tarry, 41, married, managing director of the Tecnic Boot Co. Grade 1 was given six months exemption.

In 1919 Mr Frederick Hawkes resigned as a Director of the Company leaving Mr. Tarry and his family as the sole owners.

In February 1920 there was a slump in trade and the new factory had been put on hold.

However, by August 1922 business had improved and plans were put in hand for the new factory. Tenders were submitted and cost would be approximately £8.500. The cost of this would be made by loans from W. C. Tarry. The new factory would be the first in Rushden to have electric power to all machines instead of the traditional gas oil engine and belt system favoured up to then.

Building was duly completed and opened in 1923, the company moved in in 1924. At that time the factory in Bedford Road was completely in the countryside approximately three quarters of a mile from Rushden and had a culvert running in front. This was subsequently covered in 1925. It was noted in the minutes that the Managing Director in 1925 drew a salary of £2000.

In 1926 surplus land was sold to Mr. Tarry who built a residence to the north of the property.

In 1927 Hopp & Blankaert were appointed accountants of the company who were subsequently swallowed up unto the Thompson McLintock group of accountants. Trading was difficult in the 1920s but any profits were ploughed back into the company and nodividends were paid during that period.  The company started making better profits in the mid 1930s and a dividend was paid from then on and the capitalisation of the company was increased in the mid 1930s. The directors at this time were all family, these being:-

                                Mr. Tarry
                                His wife
                                His two children

Also at this time a further factory in Park Road, Rushden was purchased by Mr. Tarry and sub-let to the company.

1934 letterhead
1934 Letterhead
Patent for Trade mark
In 1936 "Durland" was patented

In 1938 an extension was made to the factory in Bedford Road with the addition of a new Lasting and Making room. This was by purchase of a plot of land by Mr. Tarry for the sum of £40. The profits at that time were in the region of £10,000 per year.

The factory traded throughout the war and at the end of the war Mr. R. Fox (son of Sidney Fox) was put in charge of the Park Road factory and Mr. Ernest Newell became Company Secretary and Sales Manager of the Bedford Road factory and later a Director.

Note: Sidney Fox had been a mason, and his son Ronnie was looked after by the Masonic movement, who sent him to a grammar school. He was then taken on by Tecnic Shoes, but at the start of WWII he enlisted. When he returned at the end of the war he was put in charge of the Park Road factory, and in 1948 they started to make children's shoes there. To differentiate from the main Tecnic section, it was retitled Fox's Shoes, and continued for about 20 or 30 years, but then changed to ladies' fashion shoes.

The factory and business was sold and taken over about 1980 by Bill Griggs, of Grenson's Irchester factory.

Picture of the Tecnic clicking room Picture of the Tecnic Closing Department
The Clicking Room
The Closing Department

During the war Mr. Tarry was chairman of the local Spitfire appeal and raised funds for a Spitfire for the RAF.

In February 1948 the name changed from ‘The Tecnic Boot Company Ltd.’ To ‘The Tecnic Shoe Company Ltd.’ At the same time ‘Tecnic (childrens) Shoes’ was formed at Park Road which was run completely separately from the main factory in Bedford Road. The ‘Childrens’ factory subsequently became ‘Fox Shoes’ and was sold in the 1970s to the ‘Griggs Group’ who transferred the manufacturing to their own factories. Park Road factory was then sold.

The present Managing Director C. J. T. Spencer (grandson of W. C. Tarry) joined the company in 1954 in the same year a further extension was made with an addition of a new Clicking and Closing room.

After the war the factory was controlled by licence of both materials and type of shoes that were produced but after relaxation the company settled into making middle class quality Goodyear welted footwear with the addition of cemented shoes in the mid 1950s. Exports were always around 50% of the production, the main market being the West Indies. After importing restrictions in most of those countries, trading was changed to a more upmarket Goodyear welted shoes – the markets being U.S.A. followed more recently by the Far East.

Mr. Ernest Newell, who controlled the selling of the shoes for nearly 30 years, died in November 1984 on a business trip and Mr. Douglas Pope joined the company in 1987.

A picture of John Spencer Men's and Ladies' Shoes
John Spencer Shoes
Exports have continued to grow to their present level of 75% of output with a continued and concerted effort place on excellence of design and quality. The brand is now seen in many top stores in Paris, London, Tokyo, Milan etc. and alongside these shoes the ‘Tecnic’ also make ‘private label’ for many other world famous brands. A conscious decision has been made to use the heading ‘John Spencer’ which is the family name of Christopher Spencer as it is a more readily recognised English name and in fact we are extremely well known in such markets as Italy, France and Japan.

In December 1992 the company joined the Lambert Howarth Group and expansion plans were immediately put into place with an initial quarter of a million pound investment which enabled the company to increase production on its cemented sole construction side. The first phase has already been completed and the second phase well under way with the creation of 25 new jobs in production.

The company is continuing to look for new and expanding markets and recent forays into Hong Kong have proved to be very successful.

With the presence twice yearly at both SEHM in Paris and the G.D.S. Footwear Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany the company are serious about their exporting and are constantly striving to open up new markets with good agency representation.   

Memories of Mrs Janet Holloway who started work at Tecnic in April 1974 as a secretary and stayed until she took voluntary redundancy in 1986, when the company was being “slimmed down”.

She remembers the staff:

Christopher Spencer was Executive Director.
Ernest Newell - Managing Director – he had started as a junior at 14 years old.
Len Essom was Factory Manager.
David Eagles Company Accountant &
Ruth Totterdale was his assistant.
Ralf Marriott was Foreman in the “Bottom Stock” department.

Tecnic was the first company to make golf shoes for Nick Faldo.
They had agents in France, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and all areas of England. (JH 2009)

Cricket Team

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