One of Burton's favourite shoe shops underwent big changes in August 1976. While changes took place at the William Howarth shop, bosses were keen to emphasise that the old fashioned standard of service wouldn't change.
Bosses said that it was a shop and business which believed in moving with the times – but in its own good time. The refurbishment created a bigger children's department and a special section was created for teenage girls who found themselves between child and adult sizes.
Mike Clements, the son-in-law of proprietor Mr W Howarth, said the family business was 113-years-old. Mr Clements said that at least one of the four family members involved in the business was always available to ensure a personal touch.
He said Howarth's was a true family firm and these thoughts had been maintained throughout as the shop always employed other family firms to carry out their work.
When the High Street store wanted a new shop front in 1936, the family chose A Hawkes and Co of Leicester to carry out the work as they were a family firm and had done other work with Howarth's.
Hawkes had worked with Howarth's since 1885 while another family firm, Stanyon and Holmes, had carried out building work with them since 1888 with the electrics always being carried out by Barnett and Soanes – as they had done since 1903.
Speaking in 1976, Mr Clements said: "We may be considered a bit old fashioned in our outlook but the way we run our stock room is one of the most up-to-date in the country.
Howarth's had been at its High Street store since 1868 and was the first shop in Burton to have electric lighting installed – long before it was available to the general public. Until the advent of the First World War, the firm made its own footwear on a large scale but it became more and more difficult to get skilled craftsmen.
At the time, Northampton was firmly established as the centre of shoe-making and skilled tradesmen in the shoe industry were all firmly fixed in that town.
Howarth's continued to offer hand-made shoes until the early 1930s when all three of their craftsmen died within a short space of time leaving them without replacements. A modern shop front was built at the premises in 1937 and in the late 1940s, extensive interior alterations were carried out.