Joseph Cheaney has opened its latest store at Coal Drops Yard, with a concept that is sympathetic to both the brand and London’s latest new shopping district.

With its canal-side location, Victorian architecture and new public spaces as a backdrop, Kings Cross is set to become one of London’s most unique shopping destinations, and at the heart of the retail experience is Coal Drops Yard. Whilst a new destination, the location is imbued with a rich heritage and history. The distinctive brick viaducts with their cast iron columns, that were once used for receiving and distributing coal, have now been reimagined by Heatherwick Studio, who have interwoven a contemporary design with the industrial heritage of the existing Victorian structures to create a dynamic and vibrant retail destination.

Having visited the site in its early stages of development, William Church, Joint MD, Joseph Cheaney commented “Cheaney and Coal Drops Yard have much in common – deep heritage combined with a contemporary overlay to excite the adventurous consumer.” Having identified many parallels between their own company and the location, coupled with landlord, Argent’s vision to create ‘a place of passionate and knowledgeable shopkeepers, masters of their own craft, revealing insights into how a product was made and sharing their stories’, the fit for Cheaney could not have been better.

Cheaney is a brand with craftsmanship and heritage at its heart. Their shoes are fully handcrafted in England, in the same Northamptonshire factory where they have been hand-making shoes since 1886. Like Coal Drops Yard, Cheaney has undergone a similar reimagination; whilst they still make traditional footwear ranges, these are complemented by their contemporary designs which seamlessly fit into their collection. In turn the brand’s new store concept, also follows the architectural vision, which CDY’s architect, Thomas Heatherwick suggests “merges the language of the old and the new”.

Designed by leading creative studio Checkland Kindleysides, the concept responds to the powerful architectural aesthetic of Coal Drops Yard and its industrial railway heritage, whilst respecting the existing fabric of the building. Echoing the historic brick archways that form the stores’ shopfronts, and with a nod to the railways, the designers took inspiration from the thought of a Pullman carriage in a train tunnel. The skeletal structure, engineered from metal and timber, creates a vaulted framework to hang merchandising from.


Framed in graphite metalwork, the unadorned window allows clear views into the store, amplifying the interior archway, while just inside the doorway, set against the original raw brickwork, a large grey pegboard provides the brand with a canvas on which to tell product stories and showcase Cheaney’s latest footwear collections.

Further collections are presented in the centre of the store, on a large ‘cutting’ table reminiscent of those found in Cheaney’s Northamptonshire factory. Celebrating the art and craft of shoemaking, the table features silhouettes of the shoemaker’s tools and shoe patterns, which have been carefully cut out of the thick inky blue felt, revealing rich, burnished Cheaney leathers beneath.

This distinctive VM language helps tell Cheaney’s story of traditional shoemaking in a fresh and contemporary way. The language is echoed in a playful Airfix style ‘kit of parts’ installation, located behind the perimeter display, which features the many components that go into making a single pair of Cheaney shoes.

Drawing the attention of customers and passers-by, the central table is also host to a ‘polishing station’ where Cheaney’s staff ‘finger polish’ customers’ shoes to achieve the perfect mirror-shine. The polishing station provides some in-store theatre, whilst promoting the importance of shoe care and the complimentary service Cheaney offer their customers.

At the back of the store, customers can metaphorically meet Joseph Cheaney in person, as a large portrait of the founder presides over the store, some 232 years after he set up the company.  In this  generous space, furnished with a full length mirror, customers can try on footwear and browse the display of belts and shoe-care accessories presented in pigeonholes above the cash-desk and below the central table.

While the store appears effortless, every detail is considered; from the bonded shelves reminiscent of the layering of materials that can be seen in Cheaney’s Goodyear welted shoe construction to the deep pile carpet which gives a sense of luxury when trying on shoes; and the thick felt upon which Cheaney’s footwear is displayed, that not only creates cosy, aesthetically pleasing surface that protects the leather soles – it’s also an innovative material made from recycled PTF bottles, which once again, like the Coal Drops Yard and like Cheaney, gives the sense of something traditional, done in a new way.

Offering a wide selection of men’s and women’s shoes and boots, with collections ranging from the classic to the contemporary, Cheaney sits perfectly amongst the eclectic mix of like-minded niche brands opening at Coal Drops Yard. And their 75m² store successfully positions the brand as both a skilled maker and a passionate and knowledgeable shopkeeper.

The store is located at Unit 33, (Yard Level), Coal Drops Yard, London, N1C 4DQ and will be open seven days-a-week from Friday 26th October.

Editors Notes:

About Joseph Cheaney                                                                                               

Joseph Cheaney & Sons has a rich heritage; their skilled craftsmen and women have been handcrafting shoes at the same Northamptonshire factory since 1886, and from the cutting out of the leather, through to the stitching and final polishing Cheaney are one of the few manufacturers whose shoes are entirely ‘Made in England’.

Cheaney represents the height of English handcrafted shoes. Each and every pair is Goodyear welted and made only using the finest leathers and suedes available. Renowned for the quality of their footwear, their men’s and women’s collections, both classic and contemporary, have gained a loyal and passionate following around the world, amongst discerning lovers of the finest benchmade British shoes.

Today Cheaney has nine directly owned stores; with seven in London – Henrietta Street, Jermyn Street, Lime Street, Bow Lane, Spitalfields, The Icon Outlet at the O2 and the new store at Coal Drops Yard. As well as a store in Cambridge and another in the Victoria Quarter in Leeds.