Our 120th Anniversary

William Slack founded our business on 26th August 1902 which also his 19th birthday. William was employed as a shoe factory hand stamper at the Mansfield Shoe Company and was considered a good worker often finding himself waiting at his machine because of slower progress upstream.  As a result he was able to operate three machines simultaneously and requested a pay rise to acknowledge his extra efforts.  When this request was refused he resigned.  Out of work, his mother gave him 21s for his birthday, of which 12s remained after he had paid his board.  With this he went to Nottingham and purchased tools and leather and started up his own business making and repairing boots and shoes and for his first job he made his mother a pair of slippers.  William’s business is listed in Kelly’s Directory 1904 where he describes himself as a boot maker on Layton Avenue Mansfield.  Within two years he was operating from rented premises on Queen Street Mansfield paying 5s a week rent.  In 1914 William moved his business to 38 Rosemary Street, Mansfield which is where we are still based today.

Two of William’s sons, Kenneth and Colin followed into the business and carried on making shoes and in the mid 1950s a customer requested a pair of hiking boots which were duly supplied and another line was added to the business.  For the next thirty years the shoe making and outdoor equipment ran side by side.  Both Kenneth and Colin spent their entire working lives working in the business.  By the mid 1970s Kenneth had retired and Colin was in sole charge of W Slack and Sons.  He built a reputation for selling quality outdoor equipment and spent his days in the shop and his evenings in the workshop making shoes and had a national reputation.

Colin suffered a brain haemorrhage in 1986 whilst working in the workshop and never fully recovered.  His son John, who had just turned eighteen and had only worked in the business at weekends was faced with the choice of either take over or close down.  He chose to continue but without the skills or training in leatherwork he could not continue making shoes and had to develop further the outdoor equipment retail side of the business.

2002 was our Centenary and we were very proud to receive a letter from the Queen to acknowledge our achievement and the business keeps growing and evolving into new markets which is one of our secrets of success. 

History seems to have repeated through the three generation of the Slack family who have taken the business under control and the future has yet to be decided but we hope that in another hundred years W Slack and Sons will be trading as a family business living up to our motto “Service and Satisfaction”.

We would like thank all customers new and old who have supported us in years gone by and those who kindly offer their custom today.