Our History

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Arthur Barker, known affectionately by all the succeeding members of his family as Great Grandfather Barker, must have been a man of great resolve and tenacity of purpose. He began by working in a ‘shop’ (or workshop) situated at the bottom of the garden of a house in North Road, Earls Barton.

1880 – In this year Arthur Barker founded the Company. As a hand-sewn man, he personally made footwear, sending a great part of the work out to home workers.

1905 – Arthur and sons moved ‘The Firm’ to a small factory in Station Road. The eldest son Charles became a leather importer. Ernest and Arthur Jr. worked to fulfill World War I army boot contracts.

1920 – The business developed to produce fine quality footwear. An export trade was established, which grew to such an extent that an astonishing 75% of Barkers’ output was exported to South Africa.

1921 – Arthur, the ‘Grand old Man’ and founder of Barker Shoes, died in this year.

1933 – Several workers from Earls Barton, ‘The Pioneers’, emigrated to South Africa to establish a new branch. Arthur Jr. ran the business with his son Roy until 1965.

1945 – After World War II, Barker Shoes expanded in Earls Barton. A new factory was built in Station Road for the making of ladies shoes. This enabled the older factory to concentrate on men’s footwear.

1948 – The third generation of Barkers, brothers Albert and Charles, joined ‘The Firm’. Albert became one of the world’s finest shoe designers. Charles steered the business until his early eighties.

1955 – Barker Shoes celebrated its 75th Anniversary.

1956 – The fourth generation joined the business. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, William (Albert’s son), became a respected shoe maker and shoe designer in his own right.

1986 – Barker Shoes tradition continued in Earls Barton in an impressive modern factory, purpose-built in 1986.

Today – Barker Shoes is owned by an international group who are committed to maintaining the brand integrity.

Barker Shoes have become much sought after by discerning customers. Both classic and casual styles are always in demand at prestigious stores around the world where the ‘English look’ is increasingly popular.

There is little doubt that ‘Barker England’ has joined that select band of quality products for which Britain is justly famous. Genuine quality and individuality is increasingly rare these days, but you can be certain that Barker Shoes will always maintain the very highest standards of shoemaking, as they have done for 135 years.