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The History of Footwear Friends

Footwear Friends was formed on the 17th May 1836. The original name was “Master Boot and Shoe Makers’ Association for the Relief of Aged and Decayed members, their Widows and Orphans”.

In those early days both male and female candidates received an annuity of £30 per annum, with orphans receiving £20 until they reached the age of 14. The name then changed to the “Master Boot and Shoe Makers’ Provident and Benevolent Institution” and it remained so for many years.

Mortlake Homes
Mortlake Homes
In the 1850’s the Society established Almshouses at Mortlake where in 1857, 11 male annuitants and 7 female annuitants resided. The funds raised in that year totalled £600.

In 1900 the name of the Society changed to “Boot Trade Benevolent Society” and this name remained unchanged for most of the 20th Century. It was also in 1900 that the Rules were substantially rewritten as follows “Society to provide relief to really necessitous persons engaged in the boot and shoe trade… manufacturers; retailers; factors; and employees of any description… who are aged or incapacitated from earning a subsistence; and for the widows and orphans of such persons”. This change considerably increased the number of persons whom the Society was able to help.

Frank Abbott
Frank Abbot
President, 1913
In 1930 it was considered that the Almshouses were becoming too expensive to run and were sold that year at Auction.

In 1998 the name was changed again to the “Footwear Benevolent Society”, and a new Constitution was adopted on 14th February 2002. In the new Constitution the aims are now described as “To relieve, in cases of need, hardship or distress, persons who are or have been engaged in the footwear trade and their widows, widowers and other dependants”.

Footwear FriendsOn the 8th February 2007 the Society adopted the working name Footwear Friends and a new logo.

Over the last 15 years the Society has consistently been able to help over 250 people per annum and during this period has given a total of over £1 million to its beneficiaries.

In 1986 on the occasion of our 150th anniversary a pamphlet was produced giving the full history of the Society. A copy is available from our Secretary for anyone who may be interested.