Crockett & Jones

The Voice of Workmanship I

Today, Crockett & Jones has a workforce of more than 300 employees. These employees are mainly based at the Northampton factory, 85% of whom are skilled craftsmen and women. Crockett & Jones have some wonderful characters working in the factory and we would like to introduce a just few of them to you! Here is the first of four interviews from the heart of Crockett & Jones...

The Voice of Workmanship I

Name: Charlie McKenzie

Age: 59

Start Date: November 1969

Position: Edge Trimmer


How long did it take you to learn your trade?
It has become easier after the first twenty years of the forty on the job!

Just for fun… Roughly how many shoes do you think you’ve work on for Crockett & Jones over the years?
A very conservative estimate would be more than a few million pairs!

Do you have a favourite Crockett & Jones style or design?
I do like the full brogues, but anything bearing the name Crockett & Jones is good enough for me.

Are there any styles that are particularly tricky to work on?
I enjoy a challenge so I am always prepared for this. Bevelled waists and the more unusual toe shapes can be testing. However, I’m yet to be defeated. (Waists on a shoe are the narrowest point of the sole, which can be shaped to give a bespoke look to a sole)

What made you decide to work in the shoe trade and how did you go about getting your job at Crockett & Jones?
After I was initially refused, the youth employment officer wrote a letter to me offering me a job! I thought it would only be for the year until I enrolled in college. When I explained my plans to Tom Ward, the old edge trimmer and my trainer, he said “You’ll be here a lot longer than that my lad” Guess who was wrong!!

What’s it like being part of the manufacturing team making a handmade product?
I take pride in my work. As a Christian I want to work for my employers, mindful that I am ultimately answerable to God. To me Crockett & Jones shoes are the yardstick by which all other shoes are measured, and I am proud to be a member of such a team.

You must have a few interesting stories from your time in the factory, would you care to share one or two of them?
Like me, Simon was a teenager. Every morning he glared at the old man in a bowler hat, heavy coat and walking stick. Glastone Bonnick often opened the lift door for the elderly gentleman.

One morning, as he waited for the lift to arrive, Simon went over and in a confrontational manner said, “Er, mate, how is it you come walking in here so late every morning, as if you own the place?” Simon was right in his face. As such the old man said, “Yes, I own the place”

At this, Simon Laughed out loud. He came back from the confrontation. Fred Whiteman, the foreman said, “What did you say to Mr Percy Jones?”

Simon said “The ol’ geezer thinks he owns the place!”

A chorus of voices assured Simon, “He does own the place. He’s Mr Percy.”

Simon endured much laughter for a long time afterwards.


If you were talking to the younger generations looking for work today, what would you say to them about working for a footwear manufacturer?
I can only use myself as an example. I would, therefore, encourage any youngster who cared to listen, to give it their best shot. Be diligent with an attention to detail in whatever you do, try and ensure that no one can improve upon you work, while, at the same time be conscious that there are other pairs of eyes that may well see what has been overlooked!

Be humble, be teachable.

Finally, what do you think about the shoes Crockett & Jones are making today?
No Bones! Crockett and Jones are the shoes all should choose, all the while. They are in style – Crockett and Jones – They make you smile!

Any other comments you’d like to add, would be great…
My Father-in-Law, from the Far East, was, to say the least a bit dubious of his daughter’s choice of a husband. Neither he nor my Brother-in-Law could be won over. Until a brown pair of brogues was gifted to my wife’s father, made by... Crockett and Jones of course.

It worked like magic. It’s been over 30 years now and he has not stopped singing my praises. In all his photos they’re on display.

With the staff discount, I was also able to treat my Brother-in-Law with a nice pair too. Needless to say, like father, like son...

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