Waalwijk Leather Route | Made in Brabant

Learn about leather and cycle 30 kilometres through the past and present of the leather and shoe industry in Waalwijk.

2 hour 30 minutes (30.0 km)

Starting point: from your location


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On this 30-kilometre cycle route, you discover all kinds of things about the leather and shoe industry in the municipality of Waalwijk. Depart from the bustling centre of Waalwijk towards Sprang-Capelle and Waspik and then cycle back over the Halve Zolenpad. Various audio fragments enable you to experience what you see on the way. They tell you more about the rich history of De Langstraat, the entrepreneurship and innovative strength of the past and present. Craftsmanship is central on this Made in Brabant route. That is something that still today makes Waalwijk and the surrounding area a global player of stature.

Visit De Langstraat
At the start of the 19th century, De Langstraat region grew int…

On this 30-kilometre cycle route, you discover all kinds of things about the leather and shoe industry in the municipality of Waalwijk. Depart from the bustling centre of Waalwijk towards Sprang-Capelle and Waspik and then cycle back over the Halve Zolenpad. Various audio fragments enable you to experience what you see on the way. They tell you more about the rich history of De Langstraat, the entrepreneurship and innovative strength of the past and present. Craftsmanship is central on this Made in Brabant route. That is something that still today makes Waalwijk and the surrounding area a global player of stature.

Visit De Langstraat
At the start of the 19th century, De Langstraat region grew into the centre of the shoe and leather industry. This route partly goes over the Halve Zolenpad, a lovely cycle path over the former freight railway between Lage Zwaluwe and ’s-Hertogenbosch. You cycle past old shoe factories, former tanneries, workers’ cottages and other souvenirs from the rich shoemaking history. And there is plenty more to do in this versatile region. On www.bezoekdelangstraat.nl, you can find fun outings, more lovely walking and cycling routes, nature areas, galleries and hospitality venues.

About this route
This cycle route was created by VisitBrabant Routebureau. The route was laid out via the North Brabant bicycle junction system. Simply cycle from one numbered junction to the next. Arrows show you the way between the junctions. If you encounter a problem with the route’s signposting, please report this to us via visitbrabant.com/meldpunt. You can also call 0800-4050050 (free of charge).

Made in Brabant routes
Brabant: the creative engine of the Netherlands. No less than 24% of the Dutch manufacturing industry production is still made in Brabant. Old crafts, industrial heritage but also innovative companies can be found in many places in the province, each with their own exceptional story. From old crafts such as tanning leather to brewing beer to the large multinationals and smaller creative businesses: Brabant has them all. We combine beautiful countryside with (old) industries and characteristic Brabant cycling and walking routes. 

  • Signposting

    Simply follow the signs and cycle along the route from one numbered junction to the next.

    Simply follow the signs and cycle along the route from one numbered junction to the next.

Sights on this route

Starting point:

Schoenenkwartier Waalwijk
Raadhuisplein 1
5141 KG Waalwijk
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08
C

Ivo van Haren started making shoes in Waalwijk in 1929. Now, over 95 years later, vanHaren is one of the largest shoe retailers in the Netherlands.

vanHaren shoes head office
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The building that is now in use as a residential home used to be a tanning shed.

Tanning shed
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When famers worked on commission for a business or client from home, it was called cottage industry.

Former cottage industry house
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G

On the former railway track, the Halve Zolenpad, you can find the 'Footprint' artwork.

Halve Zolenpad Footprint
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01
H

Along the Halve Zolenpad, there were no fewer than 41 guard posts on the crossings between the track and the road.

Old guard post
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Hermanus Greve started a shoemaker in the heart of Langstraat, in the city of Waalwijk, in 1898.

Greve store, Waalwijk
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As of 16 January 2017, the Nederlands Leder en Schoenen Museum (Dutch Leather and Shoe Museum) on Elzenweg closed to the public.

Former Nederlands Leder & Schoenenmuseum
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K

You wouldn’t think so, but Waalwijk station once stood right on this spot.

Statue of ‘Mother and Child’
44b
L

This factory, the A.H. van Schijndel Royal Steam Shoe Factory, expanded in 1906, and it was given the ‘Royal’ predicate in 1909.

Koninklijke Stoomschoenenfabriek A.H. van Schijndel
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M

Ivo van Haren started making shoes in Waalwijk in 1929. Now, over 95 years later, vanHaren is one of the largest shoe retailers in the Netherlands.

Former vanHaren shoe factory
N

There is a statue of a shoemaker on Aan de Loeffstraat 107.

Statue of ‘The Shoemaker’
10
P

NUBIKK is a young shoe brand from the Netherlands that has put itself on the map in a brief time.

NUBIKK

End point:

Schoenenkwartier Waalwijk
Raadhuisplein 1
5141 KG Waalwijk
Navigate to endpoint

Story of the route

Starting point:

Schoenenkwartier Waalwijk
Raadhuisplein 1
5141 KG Waalwijk
Navigate to starting point

After a weekend working, Sanne Schoenmakers, aged 21, cycled back to school on Monday morning. She only had to do her final assignment, and she would have completed her last year, but what was she going to do the assignment on? It had to be about innovation. At home, she looked for inspiration for a theme that suited her. In the attic of her parental home, she found a book she had not seen before: ‘Shoemaker, stick to your last’. Sanne laughed aloud as she spoke the words. ‘This is perfect, it can’t be a coincidence.’ Opening the book, she recognised her grandad’s writing. She knew he used to work in a shoe factory, everyone did at the time. However, the book went even further back, his father and even his grandfather worked with leather and shoes. So, it appeared to be in her blood, this had to be it. Sanne put the book in her bag, jumped on her bike and cycled to her grandad. Maybe he could tell her about the innovation in the shoe and leather industry.

When she stepped inside the kitchen door, she heard Grandad calling from the garden. He stood there holding his bike in his hand, ready to go for a bike ride. If she joined him, he could not only tell her something about it, but also show it to her. They departed from Waalwijk and soon cycled through the countryside. ‘The countryside that with its clear water and oak bark was at the cradle of the leather industry in De Langstraat,’ Grandad explained. He went on to tell Sanne that money was tight, they lived in uncertain times. One factory after the other closed its doors and wages were low. It was a case of making do with what they had.

It once stared with tanning pitson everyone’s farmyard and lead to many shoemakers and even to large steam shoe factories. Eventually, one in three Waalwijk residents worked in the shoe industry. That industry became so big that a railway was constructed, known as the 'Halvezolenlijntje' (Half Sole Line), to transport the vast amounts of leather, shoes and the workers. ‘The plan was first to construct one track and then the other half,’ Grandad explained. The industry has clearly left its mark in the form of guard houses, factory buildings and cycle paths, but even nowadays, you still also see the creative and innovative strength in the people of De Langstraat.

End point:

Schoenenkwartier Waalwijk
Raadhuisplein 1
5141 KG Waalwijk
Navigate to endpoint
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