I joined the company of Vik Heels Ltd., Glover Street in February 1923. My previous firm in Norwich were contracted to Vik Heels to begin a chemical process in conjunction with wood heels. I has the job of organising the department, teaching a department of girls in the art of covering heels with celluloid, and then highly polishing the result to produce patent leather which was most popular at the time. You could say that I came for a few months and stayed for 49 years!!
Vik heels changed their name to Vik Supplies Ltd., in 1930 and many new developments followed which included embossed celluloid heels to match all leathers, there were no plastics at that time, and even crocodile and lizard skins were faithfully matched by this process. After the war there was an acute shortage of upper leathers, and most shoes had to carry these limitations.
Evening shoe dyes came out in the 1930s and were a boon to the shoe manufacturer who could make all his shoes for evening wear in white satin, crepe de chine, moricains and velvet. His customer could chose a colour to match their dresses, and he was not left with a bulk of coloured shoes on his shelves which nobody wanted. Thousands of pairs of shoes per week came for dyeing, and many sets of dyes were sent to shoe shops throughout the country where shoes could be speedily dyed to suit the whims of the ladies. The matching of colours had to be perfect, 'artificial Lighting' and daylight were taken into consideration.
Toepuffs; various methods of making toes of shoes had been used throughout the years, and one of the earliest methods was the building together of cut scrims in different sizes. These were pasted together with nitro-celluslose. Many methods and variations have been used over the years to produce solid toes in shoes. The modern trend today is to the other extreme of more flexible toes for comfort. The passing years produce many changes and I recall signing on young girls from school at 8/- for a 48 hour week. Top rate for a girl, 19 years and upwards was 28/- for a 48 hour week, and if any overtime was available, it was 'GRABBED'!!
If a girl married, she automatically put herself out of work as married girls were not employed. I employed many girls throughout the department over the years who have eventually married and then sent their daughters to carry on in mum's footsteps!
I had great sympathy with Mr Forman when he arrived, to see the buildings in Glover Street where the foundations had sunk bringing the roof nearer to the ground, and the flood water that popped up now and again, I had experienced the same problems back in 1923. (gosh! - that makes me feel old, 49 years as a 'Vikite'!) More than once we had our work floating about the area. I had a skiving machine in the chemical shop bearing the name of Mr Tulle, he came over with girls from the continent to teach my girls in Stafford the art of interlacing leather for the making of summer sandals for Lotus. I did a large amount of work in colouring the heels for these shoes for Mr Tulles and Mr Goldstein, and I remember very well Mr Goldstein had some very nice gold teeth!!
Mr Clipstone I knew very well indeed, all his work for Jolles Sandals took place in the middle block at Glover Street.
The nurse had a first aid room where the lab was burnt out, and underneath was the machine shop. Across the road 'Prince' the horse was in the stable and he was used for transport of timber etc.
Now that I am retired I have many memories, I enjoyed my time and the jolly hard work we all had to do and I have plenty to do, my wife compiled a list of jobs that never seem to be finished, and I am spending lots of time with my granddaughter, well, as long as I can keep up with her!! I have a great interest in the amateur theatre, and I have written and produced pantomimes in the town, with cast, chorus and dancers comprising 70 people, these shows include Dick Whittington, Cinderells, Robin Hood and Babes in the Wood.