An Ulverston business man’s decision to close his shop, and hang up his boots, means two giant boots are up for auction with us at the beginning of August (Tuesday 6).

They are being sold as part of our two-day specialist sale (Monday 5th and Tuesday 6th August).

The two right feet, which are about 3ft long, equivalent to a UK size 39, were used to promote the town’s oldest shoe shop which opened in 1895 – F. Dickinson Footwear, in King Street.

Current owner David Gummers, who joined his father’s business in 1986, decided to close the shop at the end of June (2019).

Bill Nelson, Saleroom Manager from 1818 Auctioneers, says it’s almost impossible to value such unusual, and well-made, items. As he explained:

“Dickinson’s has been a landmark on Ulverston’s high street for over 120 years, starting out as a shoe shop and a repairer. The boots sat outside the shop from 1907. We think two right boots were made to demonstrate the two types of leather, one in brown with the shop name studded into the sole and one in black. It may also have been handy to have one inside the shop and one outside.

“The boots were probably made from locally tanned hides by Randal and Porters, specialists in bark tanned leathers. Oak, mimosa or quebracho vegetable would have been used, and the whole process would take eight weeks from start to finish. Fred Dickinson’s cousin moulded the leather by hand in the shop, to make the boots, demonstrating true craftsmanship. They are truly unique, an amazing part of Ulverston’s history and shoemaking at the time. There can’t be anything else like them in the world,” added Bill Nelson.

Large leather boots from F. Dickinson (Footwear) Ltd, Ulverston, Cumbria.
soon to be auctioned for owner (pictured) David Gummers

David Gummers took the boots to be valued by Michael Aspel, at the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow when it came to Ulverston in 2007. He was unable to put a figure on them.

“We hope they will make thousands of pounds,” says Bill Nelson. “But who knows if two people, who are determined to get their hands on an incredibly quirky piece of boot making heritage, bid against each other. We are expecting local and overseas interest,” added Mr Nelson.

The boots are being sold as two lots at 1818 Auctioneer’s saleroom at J36 Rural Auction Centre (next to junction 36 of the M6).

Viewing is by appointment (015395 66201) or on Friday 2 August (1-4pm), Saturday 3 August (10am – 2.30pm), and on the morning of the auction (from 8.30am).