27/02/2017 Vintage Fashion & Textiles, Antiques
A 70-year-old man who spent his life in the shoe trade is selling off part of his "unique" collection of footwear.
During the course of his career Brian Bennett, who now lives in Amble, Northumberland, salvaged items of old stock which had been forgotten about or had gone out of date.
He kept them because "you can't throw away anything of good quality".
More than 20 pairs of shoes, clogs and boots, dating back to the 1900s, and all unworn, will go under the hammer at Anderson and Garland in Newcastle on Wednesday.
At the age of 15, Mr Bennett, originally from Rotherham, opted to work in a shoe store rather than the steel works.
He started at a shop in Sheffield, where he was one of 18 assistants, and worked his way up the ladder.
By 19 he was the manager of the men's department, moving on to become an area manager with a company in Scotland.
It was while visiting smaller stores that he discovered old items of stock.
"I'd think 'that's an old number, I'll pick it out'," he said.
"Things were well made in those days, and anything that's well made you can't throw away.
"Today if you buy shoes, they're not made to last. Nobody gets shoes repaired any more, you just get rid of them."
Brian Bennett hopes his collection will go to someone who appreciates it
He recalled boots made of kid's leather, which were shone repeatedly and then dyed.
"They were called glassy kid boots, because they shone like glass when polished," he said.
"Royalty and well-to-do people would wear them in those days.
"You had a class distinction, because then there'd be the working people who'd wear things like clogs."
One of the items for sale is a pair of children's football boots, with leather studs.
Mr Bennett said: "You can imagine how heavy they'd get when wet.
"It would be difficult for kids to lift their feet up. Football was a much slower game in those days."
It was the sight of a pair of football boots in an antique shop which prompted him to take his collection to be valued.
"The auctioneer said he'd never seen anything like it because they had not been worn," he said.
Many of the pairs have the official government "utility mark", signifying they were made before 1940, and the lots are expected to raise a total of several hundred pounds.
Rod Meek, auctioneer at Anderson and Garland, said: "The collection is quite unique.
"I anticipate it will attract collectors as well as buyers of stage and TV or film props, and anyone with a whim to own something really different."
Mr Bennett said: "I hope it goes to someone who appreciates it, and that it will live a long life."