Shoe machines, out with the old, in with the new

7th, July, 2016

It is strange to think that the shoe industry was changed by a war but, much like many other industries, this is true. The demand for shoes was so high during the Napoleonic Wars that something had to be done to keep up with this demand. This responsibility fell to an engineer by the name of Marc Brunel. He designed and developed a machine that could mass produce the boots that the British Army needed.


It was 1812 when he came up with a shoe machine that could make nailed boots. This machine automatically fastened the soles to the uppers with metal pins or nails. Due to the strength, durability and cheapness of these boots they were introduced to the army. In the same year (1812) the use of staples and screws was also patented by a gentleman called Richard Woodman.


When the war ended in 1815, manual labour became a lot cheaper again and the demand for shoes and military equipment subsided. This meant that these machines fell out of use and the task of shoe making was put back into the hands of the craftsman.


However, the Crimean War once again gave birth to the need of mass-production and this time the results would change the shoe making industry forever. In 1853, Tomas Crick, a shoemaker in Leicester, patented a design for the first riveting machine. His machine used an iron plate to push iron rivets into the sole of the boot. It was this process that changed the industry. It allowed the production of shoes and boots to speed up dramatically and increase the efficiency in production. In the mid 1850s, Tomas Crick also introduced steam powered rolling machines that hardened leather and also cutting machines.


Sewing machines were introduced in 1846 and provided another method for making shoes and mechanizing the shoe making industry. By the late 1850s, the shoe making industry and shoe making machines were beginning to build modern-looking shoe making factories.


Fast forwarding to present day, if you take a look at our products and the factories that we supply, you will see many similarities between the shoe making machines of today and those of the early days. Of course, the materials have changed and the machines have become a lot more advanced, they certainly don’t run on steam power any more. But the concepts are the same, to create high quality footwear in a mass-production environment.


Since the 1980s, we have developed and created innovative machines that would make Tomas Crick and Marc Brunel proud. We have engineered our shoe making machinery to be more user friendly than ever before. Allowing the factories that use our machines to mass-produce high quality shoes to keep up with the huge demand from the world today.


We hope that this look back at the shoe machines of old has been interesting. Please explore our website ( further to take a tour of our machines, we design and build all of the machines that our customers need to build a fully functional shoe making factory.