ONE OF Wolverhampton's best known old firms, bootmakers James Baker and Sons, have been in the Bugle several times of late, most prominently on page 1 of our February 27 edition, when we reported on the instalment of a display of Baker family portraits and antique boots at the old works, which is now a training college.
Still visible from the city's ring road, the old boot works, on Cleveland Road, All Saints, is instantly recognisable thanks to the words James Baker & Sons, Boot Manufacturers, painted boldly in black on white, writ large and still intact. And thanks to Graham Hughes, the recently retired Molineux historian who has spent years assembling a fantastic collection of items relating to both club and town history, we can see what the old boot works looked like back in its early days.
This memento, a large sheet of thick brown paper, was presumably issued as wrapping paper originally, but judging by its folds was used many years ago to cover a school exercise book. Thankfully the illustration and details were thus kept well preserved on the inside.
The works was a large one if this picture is anything to go by, with pitched roofs leading the eye into the distance, a large 'Baker's Boot Works' sign on the frontage, and the whole thing crowned with tall, smoke-belching chimneys.
'Buy Direct from the Manufacturer', it says, and the list of outlets offers plenty of choice. Branches were to be found in Wolverhampton town (Lichfield Street and Dudley Street), Walsall, West Bromwich, Brierley Hill, Darlaston and Smethwick; with six branches in Birmingham alone, and other outposts as far-flung as Worcester, Wrexham, Bath, Oxford, Liverpool and London.
Do you have similar items from old Black Country businesses? We're always on the lookout for curios such as these; if you have anything you'd like to share with us write in, phone us, drop by our office or send an email to gjones@blackcountrybugle .co.uk.