THE new Shoemakers Museum is set to open next summer, and the site’s foundations have now been laid – with a pear tree planted to mark the occasion.

Following Clarks tradition, local shoemakers Howard Burch and Angela Southern planted a pear tree on the grounds of the soon-to-be museum on Wednesday.

Shoemakers Museum, located at The Grange next to Clarks Village, is a new visitor attraction set to open in Summer 2025. It is inspired by the Alfred Gillett Trust's vast collection of over 150,000 objects, ranging from 200-million-year-old fossils found on the site to 200 years of shoemaking and Clarks shoes.

The museum will include a shop, café, and educational spaces, with the new visitor centre displaying the history of Clarks shoemaking. Around ten new jobs will be created by the museum.

Somerset County Gazette: Shoemakers Museum, located at The Grange next to Clark’s Village.Shoemakers Museum, located at The Grange next to Clark’s Village. (Image: Clark's)

Inside, the museum will house a couple of mock Clarks ‘shops’ from different decades, guaranteed to deliver a dose of nostalgia! There will also be interactive exhibits, such as a dexterity test that Clarks factory workers would have taken to determine what job they were given.

While fossils from the time of the dinosaurs may not be the first thing you associate with Clarks Village, the museum will also showcase a large collection of Ichthyosaur fossils found in the immediate area. The collection was Alfred Gillett’s, the close cousin of the Clarks founding brothers Cyrus Clark and James Clark.

The museum will also showcase Clarks Quaker history, with exhibits on the abolition of slavery, suffragettes, and the fight for education equality for all.

Somerset County Gazette: A concept image from inside the museum.A concept image from inside the museum. (Image: Clark's)

Director of the Alfred Gillett Trust, Rosie Martin said: “At the moment we’ve got this amazing historical collection that the public can’t access easily. This will be putting Street and Somerset’s history right where people can come, learn and have a bit of fun! Everyone is welcome.”

Bryan Knickerbocker, chair of Street Parish Council, said: “This will be an amazing addition to the area, for younger people especially, and marking Clarks 200th year. Clarks Village sees 4.6m visitors each year. This will only add to that.”

Somerset County Gazette: Clark's impressive 200-year shoemaking history will be on show.Clark's impressive 200-year shoemaking history will be on show. (Image: Clark's)

On Wednesday a pear tree was planted in The Grange’s orchard with two wooden lasts (shoe moulds) buried underneath to symbolise Street’s heritage of shoemaking.

Shoemakers Howard Burch and Angela Southern did the honours. 

Howard, now retired, worked in the large Junior factory at Clarks for 17 years before moving to Clarks HQ for a further 23 years. He learned the shoemaking trade at The Grange when it was a training centre for the Clarks Factory, it will now form part of the museum. Angela worked on and off at Clarks HQ for 40 years.