It’s a dying art but a Huddersfield club dedicated to shoe shining is pulling in members from across the world.
What started over a pint or three in the Kings Head pub in St George’s Square last Christmas has grown into something of a phenomenon.
From four original members The Shiny Shoe Club now boasts 148 members coming from as far afield as Canada, the Netherlands, Iceland, Latvia and Romania.
The club, very much tongue-in-cheek, even has its own annual competition for shoe shiner extraordinaire.
Reigning champ is founder member Bob Kirk, 55, of Birkby, the first proud holder of the silver brogue trophy.
Another of the founders, Peter Abbott, 65, of Mirfield, said: “It’s all a bit of fun and aimed at giving people a laugh and putting a smile on their face.”
The club is “open to everybody but not just anyone” and annual membership is just £1.
Members receive a specially-designed membership card and all membership fees are donated to Kirkwood Hospice.
The club’s rules and regulations are posted on a noticeboard in the pub. Most aren’t fit to publish!
Peter, who formed the club with Bob, Nigel Reed and Ian Dodd, can wax lyrical with the best of them and said: “We aren’t politically correct and people will have to come along and read the messages themselves.
“We have only ever had one complaint, honest.”
Bob will defend his title at the pub on December 23 and there could be as many as 30 competitors hoping to clean up.
There are some rules, however. All shoes must be made of leather and cleaned with wax polish. Anyone cheating by using spray paint or other foul means will be disqualified.
Bribing the judge – Peter – is acceptable, as long as it’s done discreetly!
“The club is taking off,” said Peter. “If we promoted it on the internet it would go viral but I don’t do Facebook or Twitter. I think it’s banal.”
Anyone wanting to join the club will have to do it the old fashioned way – over the bar.
This year’s shiny shoe contest will be judged between 5pm and 6pm and all are welcome.
Various substances have been used as shoe polish for hundreds of years
The early polishes were natural substances such as wax and tallow
The first shoe polish to resemble the modern varieties was Kiwi.
It was created by Scottish expatriates William Ramsay and Hamilton McKellan who began making “boot polish” in a small factory in 1904 in Melbourne, Australia