That’s shoe business! Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of footwear (12,000 pairs and counting)
18:32 GMT, 23 April 2012
If you thought Carrie Bradshaw's footwear collection in Sex and the City was impressive, then you might want to think again.
For Northampton is home to the world's largest collection of shoes, with more than 12,000 pairs on display in its roomy museum, which one commentator refers to as a 'giant shoebox'.
From enormous canvas elephant boots from the Fifties to ivory satin slippers worn by Queen Victoria on her wedding day, on February 10 1840, the vast hoard demonstrates how fashions have changed over the past century.
These wet look 'fetish' court shoes with a seven inch heel, date from around 1975 and are size 11 and, therefore, it is assumed that they are for the male 'glamour' market
The Northampton Museum and Art Gallery officially re-opened last week following six-month 310,000 refurbishment, which has seen state-of-the-art lighting installed, new
ﬂooring laid and modern display cases put in.
The building was opened by Guy West, co-founder of Jeffery West shoes, a firm based in the county.
Inside the Life & Sole gallery visitors can trace the history of shoemaking while a gallery showing how fashions in shoes have evolved includes example designs by Salvatore Ferragomo, Manolo Blahnik and Vivienne Westwood.
Step back in time: The pair of white satin shoes worn by Queen Victoria on her wedding day, February 10 1840
A canvas and leather elephant boot made in 1959 by Lotus Ltd and black and white platform sandal
Councillor Brandon Eldred, who is responsible for museums said: 'We want visitors to be wowed from the minute they cross the threshold.
'The museum has been transformed to create an open, modern and welcoming space that is a fitting home to the nation’s finest collection of shoes that has been recognised for its international importance.'
The association between Northampton and shoemaking dates back to the 15th Century, but during the 20th century engineering took over.
However the several brands are still in business including world renowned shoe maker, Church's Shoes, which remains in the Northampton factory it has inhabited since 1957.
This tribal crocodile shoe, is one of the more unusual exhibits on display at the Northampton Shoe Museum
Women's red velvet embroidered shoes. c. 1920 by Yantorney, a shoemaker in Paris during the first quarter of the 20th century (left) and a tapestry carpet shoe (right)
These ballet shoes were made for Moira Shearer for her role as Victoria Page in the 1948 film 'The Red Shoes'
Shoemaker Mr West, who was impressed with the new look of the museum, added: 'I have, for a long time, had a love of this museum and certainly its collection.
“It’s now much lighter and it has been opened up to make it look three times as big.
'This is a unique museum with the world’s largest collection of shoes, it’s wonderful for Northampton.'
Other collections on display include Oriental and British ceramics, a collection of Italian 15th to 18th century paintings and British art.
The Museum, Libraries and Archives Council designated the museum as 'of international and national importance'.
For more information visit: www.northampton.gov.uk