Kettering sculpture given royal seal of approval

Duke of Gloucester unveiling a new sculpture at Satra, Kettering. NNL-190523-163614005
Duke of Gloucester unveiling a new sculpture at Satra, Kettering. NNL-190523-163614005

A sculpture marking 100 years of research and testing by a Kettering organisation was unveiled by the Duke of Gloucester yesterday (Thursday).

The Northampton-born Prince, who is 27th in line to the throne, visited Satra’s Wyndham Way home as a crowd of about 100 staff and dignitaries watched on.

Northamptonshire artist Martyn Steele.

Northamptonshire artist Martyn Steele.

Ahead of a tour of their laboratories he revealed a contemporary sculpture by Northamptonshire artist Martyn Steele to stand as a reminder of their work since their creation in 1919.

Martyn, 38, had previously visited Satra where he was inspired by the forces of stress and tension and created the sculpture, called ‘No Compromise’, with weathering steel plates being pulled apart by 100 stainless steel cables clamped and tightened in stone.

The project took about a year to create.

Martyn said: “The response has been brilliant, people have stopped to speak to me about it. It’s all been a bit surreal.

The project took about a year.

The project took about a year.

“I think it really represents Satra and how it’s changed as well as looking at the future.”

Martyn grew up in Northampton before studying at university in Loughborough.

He lives on a narrowboat on the River Nene and works out of a studio in Upper Harlestone and admitted it was ‘emotional’ to see a piece in his home county.

After the sculpture was unveiled Martyn spoke with the Duke who joked that he should be designing bridges.

Duke of Gloucester unveiling a new sculpture at Satra, Kettering. NNL-190523-163435005

Duke of Gloucester unveiling a new sculpture at Satra, Kettering. NNL-190523-163435005

Satra started out as the British Boot, Shoe and Allied Trades Research Association in Rockingham Road and tested military shoes and materials during the Second World War.

After the war they became Satra and expanded their research, testing and work in chemical laboratories.

They played a vital role in getting the first men to the summit of Mount Everest by designing the footwear for the final assault.

The firm now tests everything from shoes and PPE to toys and even riot shields.

Duke of Gloucester unveiling a new sculpture at Satra, Kettering. NNL-190523-163627005

Duke of Gloucester unveiling a new sculpture at Satra, Kettering. NNL-190523-163627005

They moved into Europe and opened an office and laboratories in Dongguan, China, in 2012.

In 2017 they moved all departments to their Wyndham Way home and are set to open another site just down the road in Henson Way later this year.

Satra’s chief executive, Austin Simmons, said: “Today marks a truly momentous occasion. Satra was created 100 years ago by forward thinking visionaries who realised that the footwear industry needed a strong technical resource to enable it to develop new materials and manufacturing techniques.

“We have always been immensely proud of the intellectual prowess of our people, without whom Satra would not have been able to make the contribution it has to industry over the last 100 years.”

Satra is no stranger to hosting Royal trips after previous visits by the then-Duke of Gloucester in 1949, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh in 1965, the current Duke of Gloucester to mark their diamond jubilee celebrations and a second visit by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1994.