The finest remnants of Northampton's boot and shoe industry can be found in the area immediately to the north and east of the town centre (around Lower Mounts up to the Racecourse, Abington Square and down to the Billing Road). This area has the highest density of boot and shoe factories, the greatest survival of buildings (around 70%) associated with the industry, and the widest range of building types in Northampton.
The street layout and buildings within this area show the development of the boot and shoe industry from its origins as a home-based craft through to the establishment of single large factories employing whole teams of workers. The street layout is regimented, with long straight rows of terraces which have long been considered commonplace and ordinary but are now recognised as having unique characteristics and importance.
The oldest surviving buildings are grouped around the area to the west of Overstone Road and the area to the south of Abington Square. Eight of the factories connected (or formerly connected) with the shoe or leather trades are listed buildings (nationally recognised as being of architectural or historic importance). Many of the remaining former factories are included on the Council’s “local list” (which records buildings recognised as being of local importance). Only a small number of factory buildings now remain in the boot and shoe trades, most of the remainder having been converted for residential use.
A range of social, religious, educational and commercial buildings is intermixed with houses and places of work, providing for all of the community's needs. Chapels and churches occupy key locations dominating the views along the streets.