By Karina Virahsawmy, Assistant Curator, Alfred Gillett Trust
Our Mission and Vision
Our Mission is to share the rich history of Street’s shoe industry, demonstrating the principles of stewardship, integrity and community-mindedness, upon which the collection was founded, and inspiring the next generation of creators, thinkers and innovators. The Alfred Gillett Trust’s vision is to inform and inspire the public by sharing the cultural history of shoemaking.
The Alfred Gillett Trust is an independent charity based in Street, Somerset which was established to share the rich history of Street’s shoe industry and promote the cultural history of shoemaking. The Trust is named after Alfred Gillett (1814-1904), a local cousin of Cyrus and James Clark, the founders of the globally-recognised footwear manufacturer C & J Clark International Ltd. Alfred was fascinated with history and spent his retirement at Overleigh House in Street, Somerset, researching and excavating the ichthyosaur fossils for which Street is internationally renowned.
The Trust’s collection contains over 100,000 items relating to the shoemaking industry, social history, the Society of Friends and geological specimens local to the area. The intertwined history of Clarks the business and the Clark family are well represented and the collections are varied, with everything from shoe catalogues, point of sale materials, film, sound archives, shoes and machinery to fossils, artwork, furniture and costume to name but a few!
The Trust recently moved the collections into new premises, a Grade II listed building in the heart of Street. The new facilities include environmentally-controlled collections stores, a public reading room, seminar and conference rooms, cataloguing areas, a photographic studio and staff offices. The Grange is situated next to the Clarks Retail Village and the C & J Clark Ltd. headquarters in the centre of Street.