Fuelled by a growing trend for vintage cycling, England’s last remaining heavy duty boot-maker, tucked away in the heart of the Derbyshire Peak District, is pedalling a new style of footwear.
For hipster retro-cycling enthusiasts after the authentic vintage look, it’s the only English manufacturer of leather shoes designed to work with old-fashioned bike pedal clips.
For well over a century the family-run firm William Lennon and Co has been hand-making safety boots for the surrounding quarry and lead mining industries.
And now it is applying the same high level of traditional skill and quality to old-style cycle shoes.
Located in the small village of Stoney Middleton, the company produces more than 500 pairs of work boots a week and started to make the toe-clip cycle shoes around seven years ago, when the only other manufacturer in Leeds shut down.
Now demand for cycle shoes has grown from occasional orders to around 40 pairs a week.
Libby Slattery is the fourth-generation to work in the family business, which was started by her great-grandfather William Lennon in 1899. She said she believed the growth in sales is down to the trend for all things vintage.
“There are lots of different retro cycling events now, Eroica for one and the Tweed Run is another, and people who take part want to look authentic.”
Last year’s three-day Bakewell Eroica Britannia festival saw more than 50,000 people descend on the town from all over the world to celebrate all things vintage and enjoy music, shopping, food, drink, camping and cycling.
Libby added: “There are Italian manufacturers of cycle shoes but they are a much narrower design than ours, and don’t fit our broad British feet so well.
“We are the only English company to make them now and we think people who take part in the vintage cycling events want to buy into the whole, old-fashioned Britishness of the events.
“Plus they like the fact that we are still a small, family run company with a personal touch.”
“We make both off-the-shelf cycle shoes and also custom-made shoes for people who want something unique just for themselves.
“One gentleman was taking part in the Tweed Run on a tandem with his young son and he couldn’t find any toe-clip cycle shoes to fit the boy. So he asked us and we were able to help with a one-off child’s shoe to his exact foot measurements.”
Each pair of traditional cycling shoes, which take a full day to make, are hand-stitched in black or tan leather and retail from £75. Custom made shoes start at £92 and can be made in any colour combination.
Leather is ‘clicked’ (cut) to shoe pattern. The pieces are then ‘closed’ (stitched) together.
The boots go to be fitted on a ‘last’ (foot shaped mould) and formed into something that more closely resembles the shape of a shoe.
In the making room a sole is added.
Finally in the finishing room a coat of wax is applied and final quality control checks completed.
There is a waiting list of four to six weeks for custom, made-to-measure cycling shoes but standard sizes are available immediately online www.rufflander.co.uk.