William Lennon & Co

Inside the factory

From the time your order is placed through to the day you receive your parcel wrapped in waxed brown paper,  your hand-crafted ‘William Lennon’ boots or shoes have been on a unique journey through our factory. It’s a journey thousands of pairs of boots have taken since we moved in to our old Corn Mill premises in 1904….  

Scroll down to see just a few of the processes we use & the amazing people who make it all possible…..

The Leather Store

Getting Started

After discussing exact requirements, and helping  to confirm the choices for a William Lennon order, your work ticket is taken in to the factory.  We head upstairs to our leather store to select the chosen hide to use. With over 30 years of experience, our leather buyer sources and stocks leathers from all around the world. The first step of the hand-crafted process has begun....

Clicking

'Clicking' is the cutting out of the pieces required to make the style & size of boots ordered.  Phil selects the correct clicking knives that hang on the mill walls. Using the clicking press, the leather pieces are cut out ready for closing.

Using his years of experience,  Phil's placement of the knives on the skin ensures minimal waste and that the best cuts of leather are used for your boots.

Closing

The top floor of the factory is known as the 'clicking & closing' room.  Once the leather patterns are cut out (clicked), Helen & Kate then carefully stitch (close) them together using the colour thread of  choice, and add the detailing trims too.

Puritan machines dating from the late 1800's are used to 2-needle & 3-needle chainstitch the seams together to produce the leather upper.  No computers in here, it's all done by eye. Attention to detail and years of experience come together to make sure every upper is stitched accurately, neatly & correctly.

Eyelets, speed hooks & rivets you’ve chosen are fitted to the leather upper, and the shaped stiffener fitted in the leather counter pocket to add strength at the heel of your boots.

Your hand-crafted order is beginning to take shape.

Lasting

Two floors down from the closing room and below road level is the lasting room. It's here that your boot is shaped in preparation for soles to be fitted.

Using a combination of steam, heat, pressure, strength, glue & tacks, it's  Glenn's task to manipulate & stretch the leather upper around a last. He fits the leather board insole, shapes the heel backs and fits either steel toe-caps or polycarbonate toe-puffs with the aid of machinery. All done by eye and using his years of experience to get leg height & facings level & toe-box straight. 

Sole Making

The process of making the soles for your boots starts with Michael downstairs on the bottom floor of the old mill building.  The lasted boots are fitted with a strengthening wooden shank along the base of the sole, and the void between upper & sole filled with traditional cork filler.

Preparation of the layers used to make the sole unit is key, and varies depending on the choice of outsole finish for every pair.

Triple leather soles are bonded together and then stitched 'blind' upside-down before being pressed into a curved shape on the sole-press machine. Many a finger was lost in years gone by before the machine was fitted with precautionary safety features.

Boots being fitted with a Vibram rubber outsole have a leather to resin throughsole prepared, glued & stitched.

Sole Attaching

Unique to William Lennon & Co, we used one of our 3 BUSM Rapid Standard brass wire screwing machines to attach the prepared sole or throughsole to the leather upper. 3 of only 4 machines left in the world (the 4th we believe to be in New Zealand).  Brass wire from a giant spool is driven through the sole of the boot & up through the insole and leather upper to attach everything together. The machine is set to a pre-set depth so it knows how long each screw need to be to ensure a strong and solid fix.

The use of the threaded brass screwing wire is far older & more traditional than a Goodyear welt, and is still one of the strongest methods of sole attachment ever used.

The old wooden floors of the mill vibrate when the screwing machine is in operation!

Levelling

Once the sole is attached to your boot, they are 'levelled'. A process where all the brass wire screws, insole shape and outsole layers are put through the levelling machine to ensure the inside of the boot is smooth and comfortable & ready for the final stages of production.

 

 

The finishing touches to the sole

Sole Finishing

Nearing completion, Dan fits your choice of sole finish. 

Leather soles are trimmed and prepared for either hob-nailing & metal horseshoe heels or the addition of a protective rubber forepart & heel.  Heavy duty Vibram rubber sole units are glued in to place and reinforced at the toe & heel with screws. Cleaned and trimmed one final time, your boots are ready to be prepared for dispatch.

Finishing & Quality Control

The final stage of the journey, and the most important one.  Your order is comprehensively checked by Nikki before being trimmed, cleaned & waxed.  Leather seat socks are fixed in to the heel of the finished boots, and laces added.  Wrapped in tissue paper, and carefully placed in a cardboard boot box, a care leaflet is added in with your boots & the box labelled. Finally, wrapped in brown paper, your order is ready to be sent on it's way to you.

Meet the Team 2022

Our small team who make it all possible.