Sign of the Times

Maynard’s Bootmaking Business at Morpeth

The professional signwriter who painted this window used valuable gold paint and three-dimensional lettering, to be sure that his sign would be seen. Probably installed about 1890, this shop window from 148 Swan Street, Morpeth, boldly pronounced the name of T. Maynard to customers and passers-by for over 40 years. The proprietor, Thomas Maynard (1863–1939), was the busiest bootmaker in Morpeth.

Established about 1888, Maynard’s shop sold readymade and made to order boots and did ‘All classes of mending… on the shortest notice’. Maynard was in business at a time when transport options were few and people walked a lot. Footwear wore out quickly and was too expensive to replace regularly. Nearly everyone required repairs, ensuring that bootmaking was an essential trade in every small town.

Following the establishment of his business, Maynard advertised in the Maitland Mercury newspaper, keen to win Morpeth’s support. He promised to use only the best material and urged the townspeople to compare his pricelist with his competitors.

By 1894, another Morpeth bootmaker, John Findlay, went bankrupt. Did Maynard’s success cause Findlay’s failure? Other bootmakers had come and gone too, but Maynard’s popular business became a fixture on Morpeth’s main street.

After the first few years of being in business, no further advertisements for Maynard’s appeared in the local newspapers. It seems his advertising and top-quality service had won the townspeople’s business and he had all the customers he needed.