The History of Mansfield Shoe Co

Royce, Gascoine and Co., was founded as a partnership in 1867, between a Mansfield Shoemaker, Mr J.J Gascoine, and a Nottingham Leathermaker, Mr G.A Royce. By 1891 there were factories in Mansfield and Leicester.

In 1900, The Mansfield side of the business was formed into a separate company, Mansfield Shoe Co. Ltd, with premises on Dallas Street. Originally Mansfield Shoe Co. made boots, but this was gradually replaced with women’s shoes, 1907 saw the introduction of the ‘Devonshire’ shoe range.

By 1908 Mansfield Shoe Co. had four sites in the town and was producing over a million pairs of shoes a year.

Local man Cliff Burton describes how he came to be working at Mansfield School Company.

‘… unfortunately the ‘Shoe Co’ as it was known locally, was not an easy place to gain employment, it was ruled by the Royce family and you had to be vetted and your pedigree checked, before you were even considered for employment. After two interviews the criteria being met, I was offered employment and would be working in the Zephyr Lasting Department. The hours of work were to start at 7.30 am till 12 noon and 1pm till 5.30 pm, with a 10 minute break in the morning and afternoon. Saturday morning was part of the working week and overtime would be expected when required, I received the princely sum of £3-12-6…’

Changes at Mansfield Shoe Co.

In 1935 Mansfield Shoe Co. became the founder member of Norvic Shoe Company, the largest producer of fine footwear in Great Britain.

In 1981 the company became the Mansfield Shoe Group, with factories in Bristol, Doncaster and Ayrshire. All the factories were modernised and by 1988 over 50,000 pairs of shoes were made and sold a week.

‘…the Mansfield Factory was part of the Norvic Group of Companies with factories at Norwich, Northampton and Wellingborough. Making ladies, gents and children’s footwear, a few of the trade names we made within the group were: Sir Herbert Barker, Norvic Topflite, Kiltie and State Professional. At Mansfield we made the Norvic Wonder Girl range, Queen of Sheba and of course our very own Devonshire Freedom and Fashion range…’ Cliff Burton

The end

During the 1990’s changes in world markets had an impact on the footwear industry in Mansfield, and in July 2004 came the sad news that Mansfield Shoe Co. one of the towns best known names, would be forced to close.

‘… I saw a lot of changes in my time there, from being a large successful company, to the fall of the Norvic Empire in 1981, rising again as a private company under Mr Reg Pointer, which was very successful! But, during the late 1980’s, cheap imported footwear and textiles were being flooded in to the country, working methods, materials and designs had to change to be competitive, this unfortunately led to its downward spiral, Mr Pointer sold the Company and retired in the mid 1990’s…’ Cliff Burton

Comments about this page

  • Worked there in the sixties, moved to Woodhouse, remember changing from 1/4lb boxes of tacks to Vulcanising!

    By Alan musson (01/10/2023)
  • I worked in the Croydon shop straight from school, age 15, in the early 1970s. I stayed until I was 18, when I moved out of the area. Pay was £8.20 a week raising to £11.20 a week, I loved working there. Down stairs was the males department and female top floor, I remember working with a girl called Sandra and her sister, I think who was called Diane

    By Tina (12/01/2023)
  • I worked there from 1987 until the day it closed, I made life long friends. Both parents worked there in the 60’s and my aunt and uncle worked there until they retired.
    Mick Radley & Maureen Radley
    Jean & Ron Hardy

    By Claire Radley (09/11/2022)
  • I worked in the Birmingham store from YTS to full time sales assistant, to working in Men’s Dept. on my own. My boss said I could sell snow to an Eskimo lol, enjoyed every minute I spent there and had excellent support from management on 2 occasions, one of which saw me off work for 7 weeks. Miss it every day. 1987 til 1992

    By Tina Mclynn (nee Williams) (27/07/2022)
  • Had a happy time working in the offices on the wages side. Made many good friends.

    By Celia Lowe (05/07/2021)
  • I worked at the Shoe Co for 13 years, from 1970 to 1983. I was in the “shoe room” and Cliff Burton was our foreman. I often think back, remembering all the people I worked with, happy times.

    By Lynne Barton (nee Ufton) (26/03/2021)
  • I worked at Mansfield shoe shop on Clumber street in Nottingham in the 1980s.

    By Maureen Burch (04/10/2020)
  • I started there in 1967, and ended up being a clicker, left in 1977 after 10 great years there. Left to go where the money was & that was down the pit, ended up being there for nearly 20 years until Shirebrook closed in the early 90’s

    By Keith (10/08/2020)
  • I lived at Wellow Hall across the road from Wellow House the home of the Royce family in the late 1950s.
    Michael sometimes gave me a lift home from Mansfield where l worked at Metal Box accounts dept.
    He had a very nice car, a big Mercedes l think, but when the Suez Crisis made petrol very difficult to get he bought a bubble car which l believe was a Messerschmitt which was like a motorbike with a lid on.
    l was in my teens at the time and am 80 this year so my memory is not brilliant, but Michael was always friendly and interesting to talk to.
    I moved to Yorkshire in 1960 but returned to Edwinstowe 22 yrs ago.
    Wellow House is now a private school and Wellow Hall and grounds sadly made into flats.

    By Beryl Lee (27/05/2020)
  • Does any one know about my godparents Michael and Sylvia Royce of Wellow, who I believe were associated with the Mansfield Shoe Company?

    By Mike Wilson (02/02/2020)
  • One of the Royce family resided at the bungalow on the corner of Roebuck Dr, called Wrenbury, apparently when it was sold it was £12,000, it’s open plan now may be lost its character.

    By Mark Wilson (06/01/2020)
  • Just been to a Mansfield shop in France….2019..

    I remember all my family buying shoes from Mansfield.

    By Ms S Foley (12/10/2019)
  • In the 1960s I had a pair of Mansfield Hully Gully shoes. I loved them. I’ve never been able to find a photo of them. What I’d really like is another pair!

    By Sue Rowley (19/07/2015)
  • Just been to the museum today and surprisingly found out this part of the history of Mansfield. I feel a bit sad – How I wish it is still here! Then I would not buy Clarks or Dr Martens. 

    By Janet (16/10/2014)
  • In 1929 my father was on a 2 week walking tour of the French Alps.  Half-way through the tour there is a diary note:

    ‘This is the first time that walked for four days without blisters  Praise be to Mansfields.’

    Walking will never be the same.



    By Richard Lowson (28/04/2014)
  • Many a happy hour spent there. My sister,(Hilary) my father (Reg) and I. Its at this time of year (xmas) I think of the last afternoon before xmas parties…. never to be forgotten 🙂

    By Rosemary Pointer (21/12/2012)
  • Nice to know about this shoe company, great history.

    By victoria p (28/11/2012)
  • Loved working at the Shoe-Co .what happy times

    By andy parnham (07/06/2012)
  • Wonderful to see and read these pages which are a part of Mansfields past history.

    Anyone moving to Mansfield today who gets in conversation with some of the ‘mature’ generation will wonder where they are talking about if they say they worked at ‘Shoeco’ – now they can be told to look at this web site.

    By Pauline Handley (31/01/2012)

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