How Norwich woman’s feet were used as patterns for Prince Charles shoes

Brenda Woods' dainty size four feet might appear totally unremarkable - but they have a unique claim to fame.

In a story with echoes of Cinderella they once slipped into shoes that were the perfect fit for a prince.

The approach of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee has reminded Brenda, 65, of the occasion when her feet were used to model a youthful Prince Charles' coronation shoes.

The retired hospital administrator, who lives with her husband Dennis, 65, in Merlin Avenue, Sprowston, recalled her moment of fame occurred as a seven-year-old when her family lived in Romany Road, close to the former Southalls - later to become Start-rite - shoe factory in Crome Road.

Brenda, whose late mother Alice worked at Southalls, said: 'I went to the George White school and in those days pupils would be asked to the factory two or three times a year to have their feet x-rayed and would be paid six old pence for the privilege.


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'The company had made children's shoes for the Royal family for a long time and, every time they needed some shoes, someone from the factory would go to measure the young prince or princess's feet.

'Then, to save going back and forward, they would find someone they had x-rayed with similar-sized feet to be a model during the rest of the manufacturing process.'

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Brenda, whose aunts worked in four other shoe factories around the city, said when she was invited back to Southalls ahead of the coronation she assumed she would be helping to make Princess Anne's shoes - and was surprised to find her feet were instead an exact match for a young Prince Charles.

She said: 'My mum's neighbour was a forewoman in the factory and I remember her telling us that every time they made shoes for a child in the Royal family they made six identical pairs. They were all delivered and no one ever knew which pair was chosen.'

Brenda, whose maiden name was Southgate, said to this day she had never found out which of her classmates had modelled Princess Anne's shoes.

And she recalled the reaction of her classmates to her new-found fame was not so gracious.

'They remarked, 'she thinks she is someone special',' she said.

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