The closure of C.H. Riley’s Albion Works factory on Marston Road in 1957 left Lotus Ltd. as the sole surviving boot and shoe manufacturer in Stafford.
The company’s origins dated from 1864, when William Wycherley set up business as a shoe manufacturer. He was made bankrupt in 1878, a victim of the collapse of the export trade to Australia. However, the business re-surfaced in the same year as Wycherley, Crosby & Riley (Henry Riley, then aged 37), in a factory on Sandon Road. By 1888 and until the early years of the 20th century the company was known as Crosby & Riley (Thomas Crosby and Charles Henry Riley), making high class women’s boots and shoes, and trading from a three-storey factory on Mount Street, which consisted of stock, clicking and closing rooms and offices.
By 1914 the company had become C.H. Riley & Son and had moved to the Albion Works, where 89 employees were working in 1939. The company also took over Podmore’s factory on Marston Road, and were owners or controlling shareholders of Heels Ltd., Shoe Findings Ltd. and Stafford Box Co. Ltd. Their best known brands were ‘Albion’ and ‘Footglove’. At the time of the company’s closure C.H. Riley & Son were making house shoes, ward shoes, sandals, golf footwear, skating footwear, walking and dress shoes, and shoes for spectator sports
Source: Martin Harrison, ‘Richard Podmore and Son, Shoe Manufacturers’, in the Journal of the Staffordshire Industrial Archaeology Society’, Vol.19, 2005.