Langtons Sheffield – from a ‘shoe empire’ to a Snooker and Antiques Centre
As part of the Sheffield Antiques Quarter’s celebration of National Antiques Week, Sheffield Unchained is spending the week visiting some of the independents in the Quarter to find out the stories behind their businesses. Jill Mitchell tells us the story behind one of the largest Antiques centre in Yorkshire…
The family business at Langton’s Sheffield Antiques, now owned by Joe and Jill Mitchell, started in 1870 when Jill’s great, great grandfather James Langton came to Sheffield from Manchester to open a clog shop on Duke Street near the city centre.
With several of his sons in the business the Langtons soon had a ‘shoe empire’ with fourteen shoe shops in Sheffield, Rotherham and the Barnsley area as well as manufacturing their own shoes and boots.
Jill said their motto was ‘Straight from the cows back to the wearer’s feet’:
“We were famous in Sheffield for our boots and we also owned two snooker centres, then called Billiard Halls, in Sheffield and Rotherham.”
However, the manufacturing side of the business closed in the 1920’s and the shoe shops gradually began to deplete after the Sheffield blitz during World War Two, which destroyed a number of shops. When Jill’s father took over the business in the 1960’s, there were just nine shops, one Snooker Centre and a very large warehouse. Jill and her brother, Dave joined the family firm in the 1970’s; Dave became a professional snooker player and took on the Snooker Centre, whilst Jill specialised in wider fitting shoes. Jill said:
“It became harder to compete with department stores and supermarkets selling cheaper brands. In 1998 our family closed the doors on shoes and opened up our Antiques Centre on Heeley bottom.”
Jill said that the Antiques Centre is the same building as their old shoe shop and warehouse. The building was bought by the Langton family in 1898; they had their shoe shop in the front on London Road, whilst the warehouse was used as a large hay storage area. In the 1960’s the warehouse was a builders yard and then a block paving showroom until Jill and Joe converted it into an Antiques Centre. Jill said that the snooker centre is still on the third floor and is now rented out and thriving:
“It’s been quite a journey for the Langton family, from shoes and snooker to antiques and collectables. The family is proud of our roots in Sheffield business and has adapted well over the years.
“Today our Antique Centre is one of the largest in South Yorkshire, specialising in a huge selection of Militaria, Lorna Bailey pottery, vintage items, furniture and much more.”
Langtons Antiques has a wide range of antiques and collectables including a ‘50’s fun house with vintage racey and saucy posters and postcards’ as well as what they believe is the largest Victorian art deco and art nouveau and Edwardian collectables in the UK.
They are certainly worth a visit as there is much to explore and photographs simply cannot capture the expanse and range of items in the centre.