Wolverhampton's Listed Buildings

Baker's Shoe Factory

Cleveland Street

Listing: 1868. Extension of c.1900 of 9 bays to Vicarage Road and 5 bays to Powlett Street. A good example of a courtyard plan factory with a finely detailed facade; an early example of a factory in this industry.

Comment: the front part, shown in the photo, contains the vehicle access to the courtyard within and, to the right, the home of the owner, James Baker. He had started the business in 1850, originally only making boots and footwear for the labouring classes but expanding the business into all sorts of footwear. Even in 1860, when most industrialists were getting out of town centres and building themselves comfortable residences in more rural parts, Baker still wanted to live above the shop. The architect is unknown. The listing does not venture on a classification of the style but Judith Newton (who has particular expertise on this building and will, we hope, one day expand this page and make it more accurate) identifies it as Venetian Gothic.

c.1900 the factory was extended at the back, the architect being Beck. This extension is not of the courtyard type but single storey saw tooth, with the oddest fenestration to be seen anywhere. Bearing in mind that in 1899 Chubbs were still building a courtyard factory, this design is fairly advanced, predating the similar open plan design of the new Sunbeam works.

In November 1999 an application was made for planning permission and listed building consent for extensive work on behalf of a developer and the Heantun Housing Association. This will provide flats at the front and workshops at the rear, as well as a very modern new access to the right of the present building. The plans seem to preserve all the relevant features of the building and to provide for a general clean up of the facades. The scheme does not extend to the single storey extension at the rear. The proposal looked promising but a fire in the roof above the owner's house part is said to have put the whole thing in jeopardy.

To bring the story up-to-date; a substantial grant was obtained in 2007 and the building has now been restored to its former glory.