Saturday, 31 October 2009

And did those feet in ancient times?

The shoes of Norwich
Old Buckenham WI’s speaker for their October meeting was Barbara Miller who gave a fascinating talk and slide show about the history of footwear from the earliest times to the present day. She illustrated her talk by showing us that even in prehistoric times man always wore a primitive form of foot covering made of animal skin stuffed with moss grass. Early man learnt the ability to treat leather so making it more supple to work with and to wear. The Greeks wore sandals and the Romans wore what we now call “flipflops”. Shoe fashions evolved over the years and it was not until Elizabethan times that shoes were made with a left and a right foot. Until then shoes were made in exactly the same shape with no difference between the left and the right. In France, Marie Antoinette led the fashion in having shaped heels for the first time.
There had been a flourishing shoe trade in Norwich and this of course no longer exists. In l792 a James Smith (a local leather merchant) conceived the idea of making up stocks of boots of different sizes, rather than each customer giving an order he could now select from stock. Other prominent names in the Norwich shoe industry were James Southwell, David Soman, Henry Sexton, Henry Holmes and George White of Norvic. In the 1970’s almost every High Street had a Norvic shop.
For various reasons, the Norwich shoe industry fell into decline and at the present time only Start-rite and Van Dal have a presence in the city. These brands of shoes are no longer made in Norwich - they merely have a marketing and sales role in the city. Barbara Miller was thanked for her excellent talk by Barbara Stone.
The October meeting was the 42nd anniversary of the formation of Old Buckenham WI and the event was celebrated with a glass of wine and a slice of cake made and decorated by fellow member, Jean Wade.
Barbara Ives then gave a report on the recent Autumn Council Meeting that she had attended, with all the relevant information about what is happening in the county. She was pleased to inform the members that Old Buckenham WI had won a prize for their entry in the county Food Waste campaign.
Members were reminded about the forthcoming Flower Festival in Quidenham Church from Friday 4 to Monday 7 December in memory of past member, Rosemary Leeder.
Susan Hunter congratulated the team which had won the recent Village Quiz. She also said that the WI had been pleased to take part in the recent Village Garage Sale. Members were also brought up-to-date on the planned village hall kitchen refurbishment.

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