There were a number of shoemakers in Market Harborough but Falkner was unusual because it was a family business that lasted for almost 150 years and, as they kept much of their workshop the same for generations, it became a piece of living history.
Harris Falkner set up the business in the Sheep Market (now The Square) in the 1840s. His son William moved it to the High Street in 1876. It remained in this part of town until 1987 when the workshop was carefully dismantled and brought to the new Harborough Museum.
Falkner made many different kinds of style of boots and shoes, ranging from hunting boots to velvet slippers. Their work was bespoke which meant that each pair of shoes was carefully made to fit a customer’s feet.
Wooden blocks (lasts) in the workshop came in all shapes and sizes, reflecting the customer’s foot shape and also the style of the of the shoes and height of the heel. These are the individual shapes of the feet of some of Falkner final customers. On some of these lasts you can see where they were altered to reflect changes to the customer’s feet, such as the growth of a corn.
Falkner also offered quality repairs and Market days were busy with farmers and people from surrounding villages waiting in the workshop for their shoes and boots to be mended.