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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 July, 2003, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Shoe factory to close
Start-rite during its heyday
The factory employed hundreds of workers in its heyday
More than 200 years of shoe-making history is coming to an end in Norwich.

Start-rite shoes had their beginning in 1792 behind the town's marketplace, when James Smith, a shoemaker, opened up a small workshop.

This year, the company famous for children's shoes is closing its last production line due to cheaper foreign labour.

Start-rite managers also told BBC Look East that the materials needed to create the shoes have all had to be imported in recent years, making production more difficult.

Shoe maker David Morgan
When I first started, the whole place was buzzing
David Morgan, shoe maker
Peter Lamble, the company's chairman, said: "The infrastructure for making shoes in the UK has completely disappeared.

"You can't buy a sole, you can't buy a last to make a shoe on.

"You can't even buy a buckle made in the UK now."

Start-rite's factory in Norwich once employed hundreds of workers, but over the years, jobs began to be exported abroad.

Shoe maker David Morgan said: "When I first started, the whole place was buzzing, and there were lots and lots of people, but over the years, it has gradually whittled down. "

The 28 remaining production workers have been told they are losing their jobs, and the factory floor will close in September.

In the future, all Start-rite shoes will be made in India and Portugal.

Norwich will remain the company's headquarters for shoe design and distribution.



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