Cobbler, cobbler, mend my shoe

From: The Importance of Shoemaking in Hampton Wick: Bennett, Wild & Cock:

“The Hampton Wick shoe business was tied to the existence of a Tannery in Kingston and involved traffic across and on The Thames.

In 1752, Timothy Bennet, a Hampton Wick shoemaker, instigated a legal challenge, at his own personal financial risk, against Lord Halifax, who had bought the title/role ‘Ranger of Bushy Park’, over the noble Earl’s closure of a pathway across the park. This had the effect of securing the right-of-way that is nowadays called Cobbler’s Walk.

The path was used by people travelling from Hampton to Kingston Market and it can be conjectured that enclosure led to a reduction in the numbers of potential customers passing his shop. Shoemakers were literate before most craftsmen were and often had a strong interest in politics.

Shoemaking appears to have reached its peak, in terms of employment, in Hampton Wick around 1840. (The new toll bridge had been built in 1828). After 1870 Hampton Wick became a residential location for the (wealthy) owners of the Kingston Tannery reflecting their rise up the social scale and the growth of Hampton Wick.

In 1841 there were 6,601 tanners in Great Britain, of whom 1,877 were in Surrey, and one third of all British leather was manufactured and dressed in the old county of Surrey, which then included Bermondsey where there was a high concentration of leather producers.

In terms of Tanneries, 55 were in what is now London and 11 were in present day Surrey. This includes the Kingston Tannery located where the pub, ‘The Bishop (see above) Out of Residence’, now stands.

The tithe map of 1840 records that the land in the Bishop’s Hall area, with a cottage, tan yard and building was owned by Richard Fortnum* and was occupied by William Phillipson.”

*The foundations of Fortnum and Mason’s reputation as provision merchants were laid by Richard Fortnum, and in the second half of the nineteenth century the business was greatly enlarged. (Survey of London, L.C.C., 1960)

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