Branches Northern & Southern


In a world of fierce competition, nothing has changed, the way to win quick is to ensure, as in a boxing ring you get the first ‘one in’ and make sure it’s a good one. It is the most apt way to describe The Public Benefit Boot company Northern and Southern strategy.Hull began this race to the top in a small ‘shack’ in 1875. By 1897 they had truly Stretched from one end of the country to the other. They built luxury Emporiums and attracted the customers but spending money that other businesses would think twice on doing so.

Every city, every Market town, ‘pit’ villages, seaside towns, and Spa towns such as Scarborough or Harrogate, these two organisations thought of and catered for every class of footwear consumer possible, even bespoke. They chose their sites carefully, at the pit head, where miners had to pass the small branch on their way to the ‘black hole’. Seaside towns, in the main street where they were sometimes, initially the only supplier. Not one person nor class of person was eliminated, a welcome was there for everyone.

Within thirty years, from a tiny shop in Hull, had evolved a nation-wide network of boot stores, several repair shops and modern factories stretching from Newcastle to Cornwall, South Wales and Ireland. Between them they established hundreds of shops, many were huge with big plate glass windows, once a target for ‘suffragettes and rioters’. The pages of the Branches lists reveal proof of thefts, accidents, attacks, embezzlements, suicides, affairs, and assaults as well as information on when the branches opened, based upon the information to hand. A lot of that information is derived from in the first instance trade directories and journals, provided by libraries nationwide. Today those details have been overhauled, enhanced through the media of online newspapers as well as twenty ‘in house’ magazines from the period 1924-1928.

During the period following World War one almost up to the start of World War two a bigger concentration on repairs was pursued, as unemployment rose, and wages fell, household budgets were squeezed. New boots were the last item to be bought, hand me downs or repairs of existing boots was a better prospect for most. These companies were specialists in sometimes performing miracles, on footwear ‘well past a sell by date’ building their expertise from ‘time served’ bootmakers.

As a percentage of photos and images have copyright please don’t hesitate to ask if you wish to obtain an image as I may be able to help. This is a non profit website so charges are not applicable at any time. The photos I have taken are marked simply as photo by D.B. Many of these have been taken 2016/17 and freely available just credit the name ‘photo by D.B.’  Some images have come from libraries  and have copyright to those. Rick Dickinson grandson of the chairman of Public Benefit Boot Company supplied 20 ‘in house’ magazines as mentioned above and images from those have been accredited to him but he like me is happy for you to use them, again simply credit the image as supplied by Rick Dickinson.

A major project has been to not only establish ‘Then and now’ views of where and when the company traded but also to try and capture as many branches as possible particularly the early branches. In this way we can get some idea of the thinking behind the company strategy. By doing this there have been many surprises both on the Southern side-Lennards, and the Northern Side in the finding of ‘gems’. Using three main sources to populate the website are:  

My own photos, our own collection of postcard views, Google Inc. Street views and Geograph Uk.


Harrogate: The ‘Carphone Warehouse’ building now occupies what was once a main branch in this Spa Town. 

First Branch and extensions in Prospect Street Hull

Green Market Branch in penzance 2017 still a monument to the company and the builders

St. Austell Fore Street