Peter Holmes of Kendal Oral History Society shares more memories.

James Somervell was born in 1932. He was interviewed in August 2001.

I had to go round all the shoemaking departments for several weeks at a time learning basic shoemaking, and then round the office administration and the retail shops. Having decided that production was the thing for me, eventually I was in charge of the men’s closing room and became the company training manager.

In the late 1960s, I calculated that we [K Shoes] employed 20 per cent of the working population of Kendal, which was around 2,000 people, and that’s an awful lot of people for one town to be dependent on.

There was a period of changeover time from making the summer shoes, before we had got the orders in for starting to make the winter shoes, and there was about a fortnight when things were fairly slack.

It became the ‘K Shoe fortnight’ at the end of July, and most of the town’s shops went on holiday too.

The initial name of the company was Somervell Brothers and there is quite an interesting story behind the K Shoes trademark.

Originally, the way shoes were made was that operatives were issued with materials, they took them home and worked on them there and were then paid for what they brought back to the factory.

It was discovered that there were some very astute operatives amongst the workforce who were taking good materials they’d been issued with, selling those, buying and replacing them with less good materials, putting those into the shoes and bringing them back.

It was decided that we would identify the materials with a mark, and I think somebody picked up the first leather punch they happened to lay their hands on, which was the letter ‘K’, and stamped it on the materials.

They might just have easily picked up the letter ‘S’ for Somervell Brothers.

When trademarks were registered, we registered the trademark as ‘K’.

It was one of the first trademarks to be registered.

Then, much later on, the Government decided that all trademarks must be a minimum of three letters, except K Shoes, because it was the earliest trademark and we were allowed to keep the ‘K’ and nobody else was allowed to keep their early single-letter trademarks.