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Made with Love in Bolton

As we visited the factory in Bolton to see our trainers being made, we fell into conversation with Linda, the senior machinist about the ups and downs of manufacturing in Britain. 

Linda has seen it all in her 43 years as a machinist, and the trend has been a depressing decline, which has left Norman Walsh as the only sports shoe manufacturers still making in the UK.

"I've been here for 12 years now and I love it, we're like a family. I used to work closer to home, but there aren't many of these jobs around now. I wanted to make something I could feel proud of, not slippers being knocked out cheap."

Handmade with love

The 2008 credit crunch saw the business contract significantly as markets dried up across the globe.

"We used to have someone on every machine, making hundreds of shoes a day. Now we have to operate a range of machines ourselves"

The owner John had a great take on their response to the crisis

"We could have shut up shop like so many others, but instead we tightened our belts and stuck to our guns. We had to put back into the business what we had made during the good times, so it's just as well we didn't go out and buy a Range Rover when we were on a roll!"

Belief in the business is clearly starting to pay off, as production has been on a steady climb back to pre-recession levels. Not that they rush anything here. The shoes are all handmade in the traditional way. Patterns are even still cut using a machine press, with fabricated steel cutters made bespoke for each and every panel, on each and every size of shoe, by local metal workers.

Stamp template

Linda is philosophical about their future.

"I hope we never go mainstream. I would never want to see us being stocked by Sports Direct. I look at the stuff they sell and it all feels so cheap and plastic to me."

Walsh know what they are doing, and still do it with a proud lineage which stretches back to the 1948 Olympics, as the yellowing pictures on the wall attest. The stamp used to imprint 'WALSH' on the heel of each shoe is the same brass stamp they have used since the 1960's.

They don't make 'em like this anymore, apart from in Bolton.

Don't miss out on the chance to own a pair of trainers to be proud of.

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