Derhams boot & shoe manufacturers Bristol

Derhams boot & shoe manufacturers Bristol
bridal shoes
Image by brizzle born and bred
image above: 1950s advert for Derhams Shoes.

Derhams History

Derham’s business was started by James and Samuel Derham in the 1830’s or 1840’s, and was among the first to make ready-made footwear. The company moved to Soundwell in 1906 after the earlier factory was destroyed by fire. In 1910, the factory was bought by Clifford and Percy Steadman of Steadman and Co. Derham’s, like many other employers, got involved in the social side of their employees’ lives. Derham’s owned allotments in the area for the use of their employees.

In 1864 a happier occasion was the wedding of Sophia Derham, daughter of James Derham of Wrington Villa, Cotham Road (Derham Bros, boot and shoe manufacturers) to William Joseph Gale of Bruton, Somerset. All the workpeople at Derham’s had been given a holiday for the occasion and and many were present at the church. The bridal party were taken to the church in eleven carriages with greys and postillions. The bride wore a costly water poplin train, a deep veil of Honiton lace and a wreath of orange blossom and jasmine. There were six groomsmen and seven bridesmaids , the latter wearing dresses of fancy grenadine and broad sashes of dress Scotch plaid.

In 1858/59, DERHAM Bothers, wholesale & export boot and shoe manufacturers were at 5 & 6 Nelson Street and All Saints Street Bristol and at Hackney Road, London.

At this time, James DERHAM, (Derham Brothers), wholesale boot manufacturer, lived at Wrington Villa, Cotham Road, Bristol while Samuel DERHAM (DERHAM Brothers) lived at Winscombe Villa, Redland Park.

In 1861, DERHAM Brothers, wholesale & export boot and shoe manufacturers, were still at 5 & 6 Nelson Street with a manufactory at Barton Street, St James, Bristol.

The other main boot and shoe manufacturers in Bristol, the others being Messrs. WATERMAN &
Co,. Rupert Street, Jas. SMITH and Sons, Castle Street and BRIGHTMAN Bros in Lewin’s Mead.

PRATTS – A major employer in the heavy boot industry in Kingswood, this firm manufactured an extremely good, high quality agricultural boot. There are still many inhabitants of the Kingswood district who have themselves worked for the firm. ‘I went straight into a job within a week, in a boot factory at Kingswood.’

‘Which one was that?’ ‘Pratt’s in Park Road. I was feeding up to a heel attacher, that is, there was a machine with two feet on, swivelled in the centre, and boxes of nails on the side, and you had to sort these nails out, slip them in the holes and then the operator would put the boot on the heel, clamp down the machine and the heel would be attached.’

The business was started by Edward Woodhall Pratt in the 1880’s. William and Ted Pratt ran it after E.W. Pratt retired. The Pratt family eventually sold out to Derhams, and the factory was demolished in the 1960’s.

Fire at Derham’s Boot Factory

1906 – In the early hours of the morning, a fire broke out at Derham’s Boot Factory on St James Street. There was a high wind at the time and it quickly became obvious that many of the cottages surrounding the factory were in jeopardy. The police evacuated all homes in the area, with many people being temporarily accommodated at the Central Police Station. There was an epidemic of measles among local children at the time, which increased problems for the police, who had to keep them isolated.

The factory was demolished to the ground by the blaze, during which one fireman lost his life and another was seriously injured by falling masonry. The dead man Mr Wale, left a widow and eight kids.

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