A Tour Of The Dr. Martens Factory

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A Tour Of The Dr. Martens Factory

Last week I ticked something off my bucket list, a visit to the Dr. Martens factory in Northampton. I know it sounds crazy but I have been wanting to visit for years. I once bid on a tour in a charity auction (not high enough obviously) and since then I have been obsessed with the idea of going. Obvs I love Dr. Martens. I also love products which are made in England. I knew some day, the two had to meet in the middle. Then out of the blue, a few weeks ago, Dr. Martens PR team got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to go and see the factory. I have no idea how they knew how I wanted to go, but they did and I jumped at the chance!

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Cobb’s Lane

The Dr. Martens factory is based in Northampton, the home of British Shoe making. The factory is on Cobb’s lane, which was actually renamed because of the factory. It is located in the tiny and picturesque village of Wollaston.

The Cobb’s lane factory is the original site of the Dr. Martens factory, from the very first workwear shoes made in the 60’s to their current Made in England collection. While the brand have had to expand some of their manufacturing to overseas, they do still sample each design here at the Cobb’s Lane factory, as well as make all their Made in England collection and any bespoke pairs they are making. Their overseas factories are heavily monitored by the England team, and made to the same high standard that they make them in the UK.

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The Factory

We were lead on a tour around the factory, seeing each stage of the manufacturing process.  A lot of the machinery used in the factory is original, so great care has to be taken to make sure that it is looked after correctly. If a part of the machinery does break, there is no spare parts, they have to make the new part.

There are so many different stages when it comes to making the shoes and boots and many members of staff involved in making the shoes. Many of the Dr. Martens employees have been working in the factory for years, the more experienced members of staff train the apprentices. There is such a demand for Dr. Martens, especially the Made in England range, the brand are constantly recruiting new members of staff to help produce the shoes. While factory work has a reputation for having high staff turnover, Dr. Martens buck this trend as their staff truly love the brand and the brand work hard to keep their staff happy.

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It’s impossible for me to describe exactly how they made each pair of Dr. Martens shoes and boots as it was a lengthy process and really complicated. We saw them start life as a single piece of leather hide and slowly turn into shoes or boots. In a nutshell, the leather is quality checked, and stamped into shapes, which will form the different parts of the shoe uppers. Much like the way a dress is constructed. We saw the leather start to take shape as a 3d object as it was carefully stitched together with both concealed and obvious stitches. Slowly it started to take on the shape of a shoe, but a distorted one, as there is no sole at this point for the leather to be fitted around. Eyelets are punched and the famous yellow stitching is added to make the boot waterproof. Then the sole is added to the shoe, with lots more stitching as well as melting to make the perfect waterproof Dr. Marten.

I’m no cobbler, so it’s a little hard for me to describe exactly what was going on in the process. So, I would highly recommend you read this page of the Dr. Martens website, as it give an amazing insight into the way they make their shoes. Hopefully my photos will help tell the story better than I ever could too!

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Factory Shop

After our factory visit, we went to the factory shop. I was utterly overwhelmed and all the rumours I had heard about it being amazing were true. I bough four pairs of shoes and I could have easily bought more! It is possible I will be ‘driving past’ on my way back to my parents sometime soon as I found some amazing items which I am so happy with (for an absolute steal too!). Thank you for inviting me to see your factory Dr. Martens, I loved it!

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  1. November 21, 2014 / 1:49 am

    that is so freakin’ cool!

  2. November 21, 2014 / 10:04 am

    I remember badgering my mum to death when I was in Year 7 to buy me a pair – Britpop has a lot to answer for! Always great to see ‘behind the scenes’, especially when it’s such an iconic brand.x

  3. November 21, 2014 / 2:23 pm

    I am so jealous! I have loved them every since I can remember!

  4. December 19, 2014 / 1:17 pm

    Sooooo freaking jealous!! I have only five pair left but I have had a life long DR Marten fetish and it would be glorious to visit where they are born and smell all that wonderful leather. On my list of places to hit when I get cross the pond, thanks for sharing!

  5. JP
    March 26, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    “Had to expand some of their manufacturing to over seas”. They “had” to? Please tell us why they had to! There’s plenty of empty buildings and people looking for work in the UK isn’t there?
    Avoiding Taxation and cheap labor would be an honest answer! The consumer wouldn’t mind paying a few dollars more per pair to keep them 100% made in their original country. If that wasn’t the case then the Made in England line wouldn’t be so popular.
    I been wearing Doc’s since the late 80s and sometime in the early 2000s and you could tell they weren’t being made as well any longer. In the USA they got very popular in the early 90s and had a good 10 year run in all of our fancy department stores. About that time the quality went down. They no longer held together as well.
    I still have every pair I’ve purchased and so does my wife. I’ve even customized a pair to take cleats (spikes) to wear golfing. “Golf Martens” as my friends call them.
    My shoes and boots I bought in the 90s may be worn in the tread but they’re still very well wearable and look good. I can’t say they for the ones I’ve purchased After. I almost exclusively only wear Doc’s and they are my preferred shoe and boot so it’s not like I’m a casual. Between my wife, son, and myself we must own at least 60 pair.

    I appreciate reading a good article and jealous you were able to tour their factory but it would be more honest and appreciated if you left the words “had to” when mentioning they are partially made over seas. You brought it up to try and be honest but you weren’t completely truthful so you should leave it completely or just leave it out. No reason to sugar coat it!