Excerpt from an old order book, with order from the store, Sex

When I first met Vivienne and Malcolm


Castle works,


our first factory

Castle works, the first George Cox factory
Workers pose for a photo in the original George Cox factory

castle works'

shoe room

I was probably in the third year (year 9) at school. I had missed the school bus, again, and had walked the few hundred yards down the road from Wellingborough Grammar School to Castle Works, so that I could get a lift home after Norrie, my father, had finished work. I remember hushed tones as I walked in the office. The normally ebullient Josie, Elsie and Lilian said with knowing eyes that Dad was in the showroom with a customer from London. Thinking it rude to ignore our lifeblood, I put my head round the door of the 12 foot square office to find my father, the sales director Tom Andrews, the accountant Brian Humphrey all jammed in there with Malcolm and Vivienne hunched on the floor, no room for furniture. My father and Tom would definitely have been smoking, Players Navy Cut and Woodbines respectively. I don’t remember what Malcom was wearing but I'd never seen a woman dressed so subversively as Vivienne. A loose-knit mohair jumper with nothing underneath. I was shocked, but filled with rebellious delight.

It may have been “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die” or it may have already become “Sex” at 430 Kings Road, and they were discussing making Beatle boots in sequinned material, to complement the “Hamilton” creepers that they were already selling.  The production director Doug Gilbert, a real shoe man and ex-wartime crew in Lancaster bombers, would have been kept away from these discussions, in case he put the kibosh on the whole affair.  Brian was probably only there because he was chasing payment for the last invoice.

As Paul Gorman wrote in his excellent “The Life and Times of Malcolm McLaren; the Biography”

“When Tommy Roberts found a backer to fund Mr Freedom’s ambitious move to larger premises in neighbouring Kensington at the end of 1970, McLaren and Westwood were among the customers who followed him. In the spring of 1971 McLaren bought a pair of Mr Freedom’s quilt-topped creepers with D-rings.

The back of the first George Cox factory

the Bingley,

malcolm's shoe

Outline drawing of a Bingley shoe
Managing Director, Adam Waterfield

words by

managing director:

adam waterfield

In blue suede, these were designed to the original lasts and manufactured by the originators of the thick crepe-soled footwear, George Cox and Son. Creepers had long gone out of fashion as 1970s street style lurched towards the ungainly silhouette defined by feather-cut hair, the ubiquitous flared loon pants, stack-heeled boots, platform shoes and velvet suits. In fact, Mr Freedom was the only fashion outlet to stock the shoes at this time; the creepers made by Cox and its imitators had otherwise been consigned to the so-called ‘Ted’s Corner’ displays in dusty provincial gentlemen’s outfitters. These blue suede shoes, McLaren later declared with eyes a-glitter, were ‘probably the most important things I ever bought. To wear them at that time made a statement about what everyone else was wearing and thinking. It was a symbolic act to put them on. Those blue shoes had a history that I cared about, a magical association that seemed authentic. They represented an age of revolt – of desperate romantic revolt – to change your life.’"