Florida Shoe Company

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Florida Shoe Factory

Simon Goodman, Chairman & Managing Director, August 1986.

The Florida Shoe Factory was started in 1936 by Adelman Goodman on Salhouse Road, Sprowston; the building used was an old World War 1 aircraft hangar. It was in those early days that the newcomers to Sprowston, near Norwich, laid the foundations of friendship with families and companies that remain strong today. One of the company’s first customers, was a gentleman by the name of Thomas Lilley, his company was the famous Lilley & Skinner, whose branches are still supplied by Florida.

The close friendship of other manufacturing companies in the City was epitomised when during the War the company shared premises in Northumberland Street with W.H.H. Clark, only to return to the factory on Salhouse Road, because the shared factory had a direct hit by enemy aircraft. Interestingly the war damage claim amounted to £14580.65 approximately; the friendliness by our present small band of Norwich manufacturers, still continues and is very greatly appreciated.

Although today the VanDal brand name is perhaps better known nationally, it did not come into being without a few difficulties, it was my uncle and father’s idea to specialise in footwear for the lady who had a wider than average foot, that has certainly strengthened “The Florida” to the position it holds today. Finally none of this would have been possible without the help, encouragement, friendship and skill of all our employees over the past 50 years.

In 1936, when the history of “The Florida” was being written there was no television, and penicillin had not been discovered. A machine copying the actions of men’s hands was not dreamt of and the idea of manufacturing a shoe in a matter of hours from lasting to finishing seemed as improbable as man walking on the Moon. It was in these times that my Grandfather, with his sons, moved to Sprowston, near Norwich, to begin what is now a thriving company.