2009 Centenary events start to take shape

It’s more or less July now and the weather for Wimbledon is better than normal. We are sitting in the garden catching the strains from Glastonbury. Not a bad way to spend such a dry sunny weekend, albeit curtailed midway to get to the airport for the next African trip. Yet it is July 2009 that we need to start planning for. We need to get the 17th to the 21st of July 2009 in our diaries since those four days will form the height of the centenary celebrations for leather in Northampton. Before you ask what the actual celebration relates to the opening in September 1909 of the National Leathersellers College in Tower Bridge Road in London. This replaced the arrangement which had been in place since the 19th century in Herold College and more importantly was itself replaced in the 1970s by the Leathersellers Centre in Northampton at a time when the Leathersellers lead the funding for locating all leather teaching around that which was already taking place in the then Nene College.

17th to 21st July 2009 events

So how will 2009 look? The degree ceremony will be on the Thursday followed by evening events that will probably include a fashion show that will have been seen in part at least at the Hong Kong APLF. On Friday the University will unite with Leather Wise to run the second edition of their very successful “beast to beauty” conference which deals with issues and new technologies from all stages of the value chain. This got a wide audience of important industry people from raw hide supply through to brands and retail.

Saturday will see the Campus open and many areas in Northampton with leather connections such as the shoe museum in town. There are now about 100 leather businesses in the Northampton area large and small, and the town and county are much more interested in building on this. Their interest is not just from a heritage point of view but more for support of a knowledge cluster focused around the University as the anchor, and with design, technology and advanced retail (as opposed to factory outlets) involved. So as well as seeing old haunts some new things should be worth have a look at. Saturday evening will be the major dinner event and there will be a lot going on around that.

London in Mind

For those who trained in London, and many others interested, Sunday will relocate to London with the day spent exploring all the old points of interest, many serving alcohol, around Tower Bridge Road and Bermondsey. Net yet finalised is a concluding event most likely at Leathersellers Hall, recognising that the Leathersellers Company have been the key benefactor who made all their money out for 600 years of the leather industry and have spent much of the last 100 generously putting much of that back.

Everyone involved is really keen that all alumni and friends should be able to take part in these events, and to make it worth coming from a long way off to take part. So two things are needed. First is that you put the dates in your diaries and that if you are travelling from afar build your family holiday or business trips around them. Second is that if you have suggestions for elements you would like added, things you want to do or so, I am sure that this is a good time to let Debbie Greaves (debbie.greaves@northampton.ac.uk) know.

Remember that the definition of alumni and Corium club membership has been extended to include all London, Northampton, and Leeds graduates and friends and associates are going to be welcome also. If you know of alumni who are missing from the list then Mitch Smith is the contact Mitch.Smith@northampton.Ac.Uk

Mike Redwood

29th June 2008

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