Grenson Shoes was started by just one man, William Green. He was born in 1835 but his father unfortunately passed away in 1839 when William was only 4 years old. He moved away from his place of birth with his mother soon after and they ended up in Rushden in Northamptonshire. In fact it was William’s mother who taught him is trade as he helped her to produce mens boots at home. It was only a cottage-based business but at that time, most shoemaking was still a cottage industry. He continued to help his mother until 1860 when he moved out of home and continued this is his own home until 1866.
In 1866, William stopped producing shoes and boots in his house and instead became a “factor”. This essentially meant he went out to get the orders, find the materials and employ craftsmen to fulfill the orders. The obvious next step for him was to formalize this arrangement and set up a company, which became known as William Green & Son. Back and forth to London as part of his new role, William made more and more sales to wholesalers and it was not long before his mens shoes and boots became famous for their quality, craftmansship and durability.
The company attracted some of the finest shoe craftsmen in the business and William organised for the first factory to be opened in 1874. The “Greens Yard” factory was the first factory in the world to use the Goodyear welt construction method for manufacturing gentlemen’s shoes. “Green & Son” soon became Grenson, a powerful brand which still dominates the shoe industry today.
Twenty years on, in 1895, Grenson moved to a larger premises to accommodate for the surge in demand which they experienced throughout the nineteenth century. The factory is our current factory on Queen Street and is the heart of this thriving shoe business.
William died at the start of the twentieth century (1901) but he had left behind him such a solid foundation that the company continued to go from strength to strength during the twentieth century. The Queen Street factory was further enlarged and the “Grenson” brand was registered in 1913 (in fact, it is true that the Grenson was one of the first brand names ever to be registered in the UK).
The business was badly affected by the depression but, like so many similar businesses was called into action during the war to make shoes and boots for British soldiers and by the end of the 1940′s was producing more shoes than ever before and employing 400 plus people.