The Society of Friends established itself there in the mid 17th century and among the close knit group of Quaker families were the Clarks: Cyrus, who started a business in sheepskin rugs, later joined by his brother James, who introduced the production of woollen slippers and, later, boots and shoes. Under James's son, William, the business flourished but most of the profits were ploughed back into employee welfare, housing and education.
Ironically, the Clark children would often be seen barefooted in the town - not through poverty, but because the Clark shoe experts believed shoes to be bad for the development of children's feet, and should only be worn when absolutely necesssary!
C & J Clark still has its headquarters in Street, but shoes are no longer manufactured there. Instead, in 1993, redundant factory buildings were converted to form Clark's Village, the first purpose built factory outlet in the U.K