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Alt-berg Boots

Just been over to Alt-berg Boots at Richmond one of the Groups sponsors. Emptied the Boundary Collection tin for the Great North Air Ambulance and it contained £244.43p how good is that, excellent. Big thanks everyone.

Alt-berg Boots have supported the Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group since it started in June 2006. Mike the owner of Alt-berg each year donates two £100 vouchers to the two people who raise the most sponsorship money in the preceding twelve months.

Alt-Berg was started… using redundancy money… making walking boots in an old, ex-WWI building, with damp, and mould running down the walls – only 100yds away from the old shoe factory. The workforce was a small group of only 5 people – and most had worked at the old shoe factory since leaving school. 

The first 5 years were a continual struggle, with an ever increasing overdraft, and the ancient machines Alt-Berg had assembled – a disparate set of machines that other factories didn’t want – were obsolete, and it was impossible to get spare parts.

Slowly, but surely, new machines were acquired and the orders for Alt-Berg boots started to build up. Demand steadily increased, based on ‘word of mouth’ – there was no money for fancy advertising campaigns.

By the year 2000, the demand for Alt-Berg boots had increased, and Alt-Berg started to use a second factory to cope with demand – at first they worked with Orton’s of Earl Shilton in Leicester – but that factory, which had seen three generations of the Orton family, closed in 2002, and Alt-Berg started a second factory in the Treviso area of Italy, where bootmaking is still a thriving industry, and components, materials and skills are readily available.

Mike Sheehan, the owner, and founder of Alt-Berg says that the Italian manufacturing around Treviso reminds him of how it used to be, when he first started working with William Shepherd in 1969… In Italy, he is back amongst a community of bootmakers.

Mike spends one week each month at the Alt-Berg factory in Italy. When he went there eight years ago, there were only 3 people working in the factory – now there are 40. The remaining three weeks of the month, Mike works in the Alt-Berg Richmond (Yorkshire) factory – 20 people work there, and they still make all the specialist boots in Richmond.

Mike Sheehan is the owner of Alt-Berg, and he has been making boots for over 40 years. He was taught by the Shepherd family of Rochdale – and carries forward the heritage that started over 80 years ago, in a small co-operative in Rochdale.

Today Alt-Berg make some of the best boots in Europe. Their boots are a testament to skills and knowledge built up over many years.

There is a saying, that before you move forwards, you must first look back… our history gives us our bearings. We may raise our eyes to distant horizons, but our feet remain on ground where history happened… and we walk in the footsteps of those who went before us…

“In the early days of Alt-Berg, things were very bleak, and we had some days when we had no money, no orders, and the machines kept breaking down… I didn’t know if we could last another week… But I was taught – by a good man, who had survived the dark days of the 30’s depression – and he would say… ‘when times are bad, just concentrate on making good boots… there’ll always be someone who wants a pair of good boots…’ and that’s what we did, and that’s what we still do…” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Saturday 24th November 2012 a number of the Boundary 500 Motorcycle Group popped into see Mike and were shown around the factory by Nigel.

We are very much indebted to all those that work at Alt-berg for their continued support, in particular, Mike, Nigel and Paul.

Total Amount Raised

Since June 2006
we have raised

 

£ 639815

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