50 years and counting for Earls Barton shoe worker

Phil Purcell has worked at Barkers for 50 years
Phil Purcell has worked at Barkers for 50 years

A shoe worker is celebrating 50 years of service with the firm where he also found his ‘sole’ mate.

Phil Purcell has reached a remarkable 50 years of service with Barker Shoes in Earls Barton, and has become the current longest serving member of staff.

The presentation to Phil Purcell

The presentation to Phil Purcell

Born and bred in the village of Earls Barton, Phil only has to walk 20 yards to work.

He started working for Barker Shoes on August 12, 1968, aged just 15-years-old.

Straight from school he started an apprenticeship in lining cutting for about four years.

After this he progressed to the exclusive position of an outside leather ‘clicker’ - back in those days the clicking position was very difficult to obtain and he had to wait for a clicker to retire.

Phil was then asked to be a supervisor and leather examiner, before taking on the position of leather cutting/closing manager.

As well as being his workplace for five decades, Barker Shoes is also where Phil met his wife Dawn in 1971, and they married in 1974.

They now have two children, with his daughter also working for Barker.

Phil was there for the grand opening of the new Barker factory in 1987 and met the Queen Mother.

Barker also won the gold award for export excellence, where Phil was also able to meet the Queen Mother’s grand-daughter Princess Anne.

Phil has travelled the world with Barker, and has carried out many hand clicking demonstrations for customers.

He has also travelled to many tanneries in Europe selecting the best leather for Barker Shoes.

A spokesman for the firm based in Station Road said: “Phil has been a tremendous asset to Barkers, it is going to be difficult to replace him when he finally decides to hang up his Barker Shoes.”

Barker has been making shoes in Earls Barton since 1880 and produces about 200,000 pairs of hand lasted sewn shoes each year.