The clatter of feet

Before the days of rubber, man made or crepe soles, most shoes had leather soles and heels stitched on the underside. These heels wore down and the soles became holey whilst there was still life in the uppers. The boots and shoes could have been taken to the cobblers for reheeling or to have new soles stitched on, but this would have been expensive. To extend the life of the footwear, there was the option of adding some metal to the soles and heels. We have already considered Segs for shoes, but we have a couple of other alternatives in Market Lavington Museum.

Hobnails could be hammered around the edge of the sole or substantial plates could be attached to the heels.

We have four of these amongst our wide collection of cobblers’ tools and kit. Our hobnails date from the early twentieth century and the heel plates are a little more recent. On modern tarmac or concrete pavements, or on cobbles, these metal additions would have been noisy and possibly a skid risk in wet or icy conditions. This was probably less of an issue on muddy footpaths or for field work.

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