The basement of the 1890's Crockett & Jones factory holds home to one of the largest 'last' stores in Great Britain, today. On this level you will find around 3000 last cubs, holding over 40,000 pairs of lasts of which nearly 37,000 pairs are still in use today. These cubs have seen a great change in lasts over the past 125 years, whilst Crockett & Jones continue to improve the fitting of a last and update toe shapes…
As the art of shoe manufacturing advanced, last production naturally evolved with it. Aged wooden lasts become more inoperable as the years role by, so plastic lasts were developed in favour of the initial beach or maple woods. Plastic is a lot harder wearing and importantly, recyclable.
The plastic lasts secured a favourable reputation throughout the factory after being noted as ‘self-healing’. When tacks are repeatedly driven into the bottom of the last they encouraged other holes to seal back up, whereas the wooden lasts would begin to split and fracture resulting in it ending up on a Directors open fireplace.
Although the majority of lasts used in today’s production are plastic, several existing styles are still produced on wooden lasts that are over 50 years old. An example of this is the timeless straight cap oxford Connaught, which is still manufactured on the original and wooden 236 last.
Read about the secrets of Preparation here