The Clog

In the town of Mytholmroyd in a valley near to our HQ in Halifax, West Yorkshire, there is a thriving business called Walkley. They’re one of only a few remaining clog-makers in England. For those who didn’t know, a clog is a shoe made wholly or partly from wood.

It may come as a surprise that there are any clog-makers at all still trading, but actually are an environmentally-sound and effecgive type of footwear. They are able to withstand extremes of temperature and environments and so are valued in the metal-working industry and similar professions such as glassworking concerns and foundries. In fact (although they may have been around since Roman times) it was with the Industrial Revolution that clogs took off in popularity in England, when factory workers began had a requirement for very strong - yet cheap - footwear. The low cost of clogs was due to the fact that England was (and in some areas, still is) covered by woods, where could be found various trees such as the alder, beech, sycamore, ash and willow, all of which provided handy and extensive sources of wood that was ideal for clog-making. (As an aside, the aspen tree also provided wood which was ideal for making clogs, but it was actually banned in England as a material for clog-making as the monarch wanted to preserve it for the making of arrows for England’s national weapon, the longbow.)

Though fixed in the popular mind as being associated with the North, clogs were worn around the UK (and beyond), especially in markets and mines, where their durability and low cost were appreciated.

Clogs are not an English phenomenon. The French sabot is a type of clog made entirely from wood (unlike English-style clogs which are usually a leather upper on a wooden base).  Some say the word “sabotage” is derived from these clogs, when annoyed workers would halt factory production by throwing their clogs into the inner workings of machinery! From Germany we have the Holzschuh, also a fully-wooden clog, and from Italy the Zaccolo, which can be either fully-wood or partly-wood.

And other clog-types can be found further afield: Turkey, India, China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines all have their own national clog styles (although these Asian clogs are more “clog-sandals” than the European-type “Clog-shoes”).

The Indian Paduka is the most ancient and quintessential type of Indian footwear and is charmingly simple in design and concept: it is simply a wooden sole with a knob which goes between the big toe and the second tow. But, thhough simple in design, they can be very elaborate in appearance: the rich of the subcontinent have often decorated them lavishly and used various fine woods for their manufacture, such as teak, sandalwood or ebony.

Hailing from Japan, the Geta is a sandal-type clog with a wooden base elevated by the addition of two wooden blocks beneath, and held onto the foot with an elastic thong. They are worn with traditional Japanese clothing (such as a kimono or yukata), but also with Western-style clothing during summer.

 


 

The modern British-made safety clog is so tough that it is at least twice as strong as a safety boot, according to manufacturer Walkley. UK regulations are so tight that Walkley’s safety clogs are actually tested to the European EN 345 safety footwear standard. In short, this footwear can really protect your feet. If you’ve a job which involves standing in something hot or otherwise unpleasant, or where there’s a good chance that you might drop something heavy on your feet, the safety clog might be a good option for you!