International Women’s Day Event Success

The Alfred Gillett Trust, a heritage charity based in Street, held a very successful 4-day celebration in honour of International Women’s Day on 8 March. Over 4 days, the Trust welcomed over 520 visitors to enjoy a range of free exhibitions, performances and activities to mark the 100-year-old global event aimed at celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

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The Alfred Gillett Trust is a heritage charity which preserves and promotes the cultural heritage of shoemaking, and cares for the historic collections of C & J Clark Ltd., and the Clark family which established the global shoemaking company. At the event, the archives were opened up to visitors, which highlighted the stories of six remarkable Street women who have influenced the pursuit for gender equality through their roles in the suffrage movement, the shoemaking industry and medicine.

Annie Clark for example, qualified as a doctor in 1878 at a time when women struggled to receive a higher education. Florrie Bond worked as a foreman in the Trimming Room at Clarks until her retirement in 1946, and Hilda Clark undertook important relief work during and after WWI, which included setting up a Maternity Hospital for refugees in France.

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The Trust brought together local artists, women’s groups and performers to explore the role of women in today’s society and prompt all visitors to reflect on their own experiences and beliefs. This included a large-scale sound and light installation by Elena Hutchcroft and Karolina Nieduza, a photographic exhibition of Navajo grandmothers by Joseph Hunwick and a moving mixed-media installation by Charlotte Humpston reflecting on a mothers’ grief at losing her daughter.

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On International Women’s Day, itself, the historic Grange came alive with the captivating voices of local choirs and performers, the Lonesome Doves, the Avalonian Free State Choir, Lily Anne and Leela Bunce. The final day of the exhibition saw a performance by Street Sings Choir and the Trust welcomed the Street Society who were serving refreshments and cakes.

The Trust would like to extend thanks to all the performers, artists and volunteers involved with the event, without whom the event would not have been the success it was.

The Trust will be hosting a regular series of FREE talks, seminars and workshops at the Grange over the coming year which will focus on the achievements and beliefs of some truly inspirational local women. The first talk by Kathy Jones, the Priestess of the Goddess, will be on Thursday 6 April on “Feminism, Goddess Spirituality and Motherworld”. Reserve your free place here.


We are re-branding, with an innovative competition, which is aimed at providing local young people with an exciting opportunity for career development and cultivating network skills.

The competition is open to 17-26 year olds who are not currently paid marketing/design professionals and will see the winner designing a new brand direction for the charity. The winner will receive £250 and see their design form the basis of the Charity’s future branding for the next 5 years.

The winner will be announced at a special presentation evening in the Autumn, where the shortlisted entrants will be have the opportunity to showcase their work and network with art, design and marketing professionals.

The competition brief can be downloaded BRAND DESIGN COMPETITION BRIEF V3. We also held two information evenings on Tuesday 26th and Thursday 28th July, which provided further information and guidance which can also be downloaded THE ALFRED GILLETT TRUST.pptx version 2

If you would like any further information or guidance please contact Sam Bradley at The Alfred Gillett Trust at or on 01458 444060.

The closing date for entries is 5pm on Friday 2nd September 2016.

Goodbye, Charlotte!

Charlotte with her leaving present; a Moomin inspired 'Shoemin'

Charlotte with her leaving present; a Moomin inspired ‘Shoemin’

This month we said Goodbye to our Head of Collections, Charlotte Berry, who left the Trust to return to her hometown and take up the exciting role of Archivist at Hereford Cathedral.

Charlotte has worked for the Alfred Gillett Trust for five years and has achieved a great deal in this time. She was instrumental in moving the archive from its cramped home to a new purpose-built facility and growing the team from 3 to 12.


Measuring Feet in the 21st Century

Clarks electronic foot measuring devices from 1967, 1996, 2000 and 2006

Clarks electronic foot measuring devices from 1967, 1996, 2000 and 2006

The Archive often deals with enquiries about foot measuring at Clarks and a new initiative has just been launched by the company which builds on its long heritage of foot fitting. An article on the BBC News website shows how iPads have been adapted for foot fitting and shows several examples of gauges from our collection.

This project has been running at Clarks for some time and the Archive has been donated examples of the prototypes for the permanent collection.

Short hair for girls in the Clark family – can you solve the mystery?

Can you help with a mystery which has been bugging the Trust staff for some time? We have a large collection of photographs relating to the Clark and related families in Street, Somerset. Several of the young girls in the family wore their hair very short in late 19th century, and we have always been curious as to finding a reason. The Trust staff haven’t come across this in any other photographs from the period on their travels through other family archives of a similar timeframe.

There may have been some medical grounds for this, since Helen Priestman Bright Clark’s family had a history of TB. Helen was generally very protective on the health front for her children, moving the family home from the factory to a new house on the outskirts of the village (now Millfield School of sporting prowess).

Clark and Morland family group, 1880s

Clark and Morland family group, 1880s

There is a good example of short hair for the girls in the family in this photograph (mid 1880s). Two of the group suffered from TB, one dying of it fairly soon afterwards as a teenager (Pollie Morland) and one suffering from it at various points in her life (Alice Clark).

The photograph shows Helen Clark’s four daughters. Esther (born 1873) is the eldest and is presumably growing her hair out (shoulder length, second from left in back row). The three younger Clark sisters, Alice (back row furthest right), Margaret and Hilda (seated, third and fourth from left), all have short hair, along with their Morland cousin Eleanor/Nelly. Pollie Morland (standing, furthest left, born 1872) also has bobbed hair. Alice in particular (born 1874) wore very short hair even as an adult, which seems unusual during the late Victorian/Edwardian era. Age doesn’t necessarily seem to dictate this, since Esther and Alice are just one year apart.

Does anyone know of other instances of this, or could anyone point Trust staff in the direction of a hairstyle expert who could give us some further ideas for research? Please email the Trust with suggestions – we’d love to hear from you!

Eureka is preparing to go on the move for the first time in 150 years…

Neil Bollen and the Latin Verse MachineThis week, metal conservator Neil Bollen came to The Grange, Street, to view the Latin Verse Machine in situ and to start getting it ready to transport down to a temporary workshop at the University of Exeter for the Eureka AHRC Project.

Neil took the opportunity to secure the various mechanisms and weights against the shaking and jiggling to come for Eureka whilst tucked up in a transit van heading down the M5 across the county boundary.

Neil also took some detailed measurements of the machine’s external dimensions, since Eureka doesn’t fit through a standard doorway (perhaps this explains why the machine has never been kept in a Clark family house – since its arrival in Street in the 1850s, it has stayed instead in the Clarks shoe factory or in the museum!).

Neil Bollen and the Latin Verse MachineThe Trust is now making arrangements with Neil to fix on a removal date, hopefully in the next week or so. It will be the first time that Eureka has left Street for probably over 150 years. When it returns, the machine will be in good working order and worthy of its status of one of the Trust’s star objects.

More news to follow as the project progresses during 2015…

Season’s Greetings from the Alfred Gillett Trust!

Xmas Wishes