The Company, C & J Clark was founded in 1825 by two brothers, Cyrus and James, who came from a Quaker family in Street, Somerset. They were producing 60 lines of ready-made (rather than bespoke) footwear in 1835, including children’s shoes for the first time.
The Quakers took a dim view of debt but the Clark brothers – who were hopeless accountants – soon found themselves strapped for cash and began borrowing from the bank after taking money out of the company to build houses.
Such was their financial predicament that in 1842 a cousin suggested that they should emigrate to Australia. Instead Quaker friends and family bailed them out.

Queen Victoria visited the company’s stand at the Great Exhibition of 1851.
During the Crimean War the government wanted to pay Clarks to provide sheepskin coats for the troops. As pacifists the family refused but then changed their minds, using any profits to build a school in Street.

Clarks first started here in Friday Street Minehead in Feb.1954. The main Vennland factory opened in Oct.1954 Vennland Way, off Ponsford road.
Photos supplied by Shirley Jones.
Original Clarks workers when they first started in Friday Street Minehead in Feb.1954.
These are some of the names for the people seated in the second picture:
back row, left to right: Cyril Bushen, unknown, Barry Fuzzard, Ernie Davey, Ken Ware, Stan Weeks, Arnold Meads, Tony Rawle, Morris Prescott.
2nd row: Jock Gollen, Mrs Tucker, Janet Babb, Pam Gould, Mrs Floyd, Gorden Huxtable.
3rd row: George Bosley, Wendy Pope, Edna Jones, Christine Greenman, Shirley Rowe, Violet Burnett, Olive Irving, Bill Bennett.
4th row: Pat Tucker, Enid Davey, Valerie Lewis, Janet ?, Muir Andrews,Dorrien Causey
Front row:unknown, Fred Ashman, Claude Gilford, Mrs Look, Rose ? unknown.
The opening of Clarks Vennland Factory Oct. 1954
kindly supplied by Kristy Hirons.
names from left to right - unknown, Harold Strong, Tony Milton, unknown, Arthur Langdon, rest unknown.
From right to left, Mr Parsons, unknown, Dennis Flagg, unknown, Sammy Jay. Front right Mr. Ridler.