Tributes paid to one of the biggest names in Northampton’s shoe-making history

Four generations of the Batten family: Horace (front) son Timothy (left) granddaughter Emma and great-granddaughter Charlotte NNL-150701-081555001
Four generations of the Batten family: Horace (front) son Timothy (left) granddaughter Emma and great-granddaughter Charlotte NNL-150701-081555001

One of the biggest names in Northampton’s shoe-making history, and creator of the boots worn by Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies, has passed away aged 102.

Horace Lampard Batten was the former owner of Horace Batten Bespoke Boot Makers and the fifth generation to take up the family business. His greatest passions in life were his business, cricket and his family.

He was born in Long Buckby in 1912 after his parents moved to the county to develop the Horace Batten business in Henry Street, Northampton, in 1920. But the Batten family can trace its bootmaking roots as far back as 1804.

Horace’s son, Timothy, now aged 69, said it was the business’s niche riding boot market that had enabled it to survive the post-war economy.

Mr Batten said: “Back then a pair of our boots would have cost £4 to £6; now we sell them for £1,000.

“When he married my mother, Barbara Harris, in 1939, he bought a house in Ravensthorpe where he lived until he died.

“There he founded the Ravensthorpe Cricket Club and almost became a professional, but he didn’t like the divide between professionals and amateurs. They had separate changing rooms and he said it was like being a second class citizen.

“But he was always involved in the sport and we think that, because of his name and the area in London where the family was from, there may be some connection to Frank Lampard’s family.

“Unfortunately the ball skills didn’t reach as far as me and, although dad tried to teach me to play cricket, I was never any good.

“But he was a family man and he was always juggling that with the business and his cricket.”

Some of the highlights of his career include kitting out sub-mariners and the Women’s Land Army during the Second World War and creating both the heavy wax calf jackboots worn by actor Dave Prowse in his role as Darth Vader in the original Star 
Wars trilogy and the size 72 pair worn by a Lady Godiva puppet at the London 2012 Olympics.

Horace Batten is now run by his granddaughter, Emma.

Mr Batten said: “We already have plans for Emma’s four-year-old daughter, Charlotte.”