TG2308 : View along St Georges Street

taken 3 years ago, near to Norwich, Norfolk, Great Britain

View along St Georges Street
View along St Georges Street
The large building at right is the (east side of the) former Norvic shoe factory.

For another view see > Link.

The founders, Howlett and Tillyard went into partnership in 1846 as curriers and leather sellers in Pottergate Street. According to Kelly's Directory of 1853, in 1856 they purchased a coal yard on St George's Plain to built their shoe factory, which was extended in 1876, 1895 and 1909, all by acquiring other firms' space. By this point the factory had encompassed Claxton and Water lanes, turning them into internal roads for the facility.

During the 19th century the firm specialised in women's shoes, building up a global export trade and supplying these shoes to the (then large) British Empire. At the time Australia and New Zealand did not have much developed industry and relied on trade to bring in mass produced items, such as footwear. The firm had a strong relationship with South America and managed to fend off competition from newer North American shoe firms. They also shipped decorated shoes to China and a large number of women's tennis shoes to Germany. By 1909, it was reported in the Illustrated London News that the firm produced shoes in "13 sizes, 4 shapes, 4 fittings, and 20 styles, totalling 4160 different kinds of women's boots and shoes".

During the First World War the firm produced shoes for the Allies: hospital slippers, shoes for the Navy, boots for the Armies of England, France and Russia and fur lined boots for the air force. The war was hard on the firm, as shipping blockades made raw materials difficult to obtain, production was mainly for the war effort and not for trading, and major markets in Europe, namely Germany, were completely cut off. After the war, America and Australia had developed their own shoe industries, so British firms had to concentrate on the home market, resulting in fierce competition.
To give themselves an edge, the firm decided to make shoes for all demographics, not just women, and so they bought out other, smaller and more specialised firms to make men's and children's shoes. The firm also adopted a concentrated selling plan. Basically starting a retail franchise, they moved from supplying shoes to retailers to buying shops to sell shoes themselves. They also offered free advice, advertising and management to storekeepers who were willing to sell only Norvic products.

In 1936 the premises were extended towards Duke Street. This area was used as storage and showrooms, capable of holding 250,000 pairs of shoes for immediate delivery to the new chain of shops. The Second World War had much the same effect as the first. Production was again geared to making footwear for the forces and again after the war there was a struggle to regain commercial viability. In 1959 the firm was one of the first to recognise the teenage market, realising that although teenagers (in 1959) only made up 9.7% of the population, they spent 18.8% of the nation's total expenditure on shoes. The firm employed a board of 7 teenage girls to provide advice on marketing to teenagers.

In 1961 the site was extended right up to the River Wensum. In 1964 "Heathside" was opened on the Vulcan Road industrial estate, which had the capacity to produce 30,000 pairs of shoes a week. This was closed down in 1980 to reduce costs as competition from foreign imports was growing stronger. The firm lost a 2,250,000 contract to export to Russia and had to sell 180 retail shops to make up the money. In October 1981 the factory closed and the company was finished by the courts in October 1982. In 1981, plans were made for the conversion of the factory into residential property. The St George's Street side of the factory was to be retained and converted into apartments and small retail units, and the Duke Street side was to be demolished and rebuilt as houses, and subsequently a hotel. (Source: Norfolk Heritage Explorer)
Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   © Copyright Evelyn Simak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
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1:50,000 Modern Day Landranger(TM) Map © Crown Copyright
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Grid Square
TG2308, 5941 images   (more nearby search)
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Date Taken
Friday, 6 July, 2018   (more nearby)
Monday, 9 July, 2018
Geographical Context
Roads, Road transport  City, Town centre 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2304 0896 [10m precision]
WGS84: 52:37.9519N 1:17.6708E
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! TG 2303 0898
View Direction
South-southeast (about 157 degrees)
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Image Type (about): geograph 
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