Review of the Clogmaking shop, Street Museum, Bacup, Lancashire
(Click on Thumbnails to see the Larger Picture)

Last October (1999), while I was preparing for my November trip to England, I received email from Dave Mundy, asking if I would be interested in in examining a clog-making collection at a museum set up in a no longer used shop in Bacup, Lancastershire. Dave explained that he was one of the Board of Trustees of this collection, and hoped that I might find the collection of interest. I was surprised by the offer, since I knew next to nothing about clogs. But I had a few days left unoccupied on my itinerary, and after some thought, I wrote back, and accepted.
Before my trip, I did a bit of homework on clogs, and the English clogmaking industry, so I would have some idea of what I would be seeing. I will mention that when I spoke to people of this side trip, those who knew anything of the topic all told me "Ah Walkleys, you’ll love it".
I arrived by train at Rochdale, and was met my hostess and guide, Ms Jude Lockett, a marvelous lady, who is the on-site member of the Board of trustees who was going to put me up (and put up with me) during my stay. She drove me to Bacup, and gave me a general tour of the region. Bacup is smallish town set at the eastern ridge of a valley in the Pennines, and, in my opinion, is absolutely gorgeous. The town still wears the vestiges of former days in quiet dignity, with a number of former clog factories, where shoes were made for the workers in the Victorian cotton mills. Many people might feel that the region’s a bit sparse, but the loveliness of the tree-lined valleys, grass and rock strewn hills and peaks, and general sense of peaceful history would have been enough to bring me to the place, even had I not had other business there.
The next day, we went to the site of the Museum, which is set in an undercroft under a cluster of other buildings. In all fairness, the shop that houses the museum had never actually been a clog-making shop, but this does not mar the fact that it manages to convey the impression of what such a shop might have been like. The shop area was fairly small, not more than 10-15’ on a side, with a storage room in back, separated by a curtain. The small area meant that it heated fairly quickly from the small coal-burning stove.
Really though, the important portion of the shop was the tools and materials for making the clogs, from the Lasts, both for shoes and clog,
upper knives,
pre-made wooden soles,
selection of iron toe and heel fittings,
work bench, knives,
and unmade uppers.
There were a number of pairs of clogs on display and quite a number ready for making. All of these appear to date from before the Second World War.
In storage in back were a number of items, more related to street theater than to the shop. These were also very interesting, but not really what I was there to see.
Later, on my way to my train back to London, I asked to stop at Walkleys, which is the Clog Factory that everyone seemed to think that I was going to visit, in order to get some sense of contrast. The old factory building now houses a craft mall. Of the two, I preferred the Street Museum since Walkleys is full of enough of modern plastic artsy-crafts displays that it feels nothing like the historical building it is. The Museum, as small and cluttered up as it was, clearly presented a real sense of what the clog-making industry was all about up until after the War, and gave me a greater feeling for what a clog-maker’s shop might have been like during the hey-day of that trade. It was definitely a worthwhile and educational stop on my trip to the North.