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CHURCH'S Shoes, the Northampton-based cobbler to those who can nearly afford handmade shoes but not quite, is celebrating its 125th anniversary.

And what better way to celebrate than produce some new shoes? Church's is bringing out three classic brogues, named after the three founding Church brothers - William, Alfred and Thomas.

The shoes will be produced in a limited run of 3,000 in total, and made out of "only the finest selected skins". They'll even be numbered and have their own cleaning kits.

Over 2,000 of the birthday pairs have been sold, pretty impressive considering they cost a toe-curling pounds 395 a shot.

The company is still chaired by one of the founding family, John Church, who is a great great grandson of one of the trio.

And just to show it is still a go-ahead concern, Church's has just sold 8,000 pairs of smart brown boat shoes to the Royal Navy, to replace the sailors' traditional ocean-going black plimsolls.

ELLIOTT BERNERD, boss of Chelsfield and doyen of property developers, has got a new role, chairman of the South Bank Centre, London's premier arts complex.

Mr Bernerd, the wheeler-dealer with a huge house in London's posh Eaton Square, go the job this week when Sir Brian Corby resigned over the Arts Council's scrapping of a pounds 75m grant for the South Bank.

The grant was needed for a huge refurbishment of the complex, which includes the Royal Festival Hall and the National Theatre. The scheme featured a vast glass roof designed by Sir Richard Rogers.

Mr Bernerd usually spends his time cooking up property schemes like the office and hotel complex in Paddington which will exploit the new, fast rail link to Heathrow Airport.

Whether he can handle the luvvies of the South Bank is another matter.

CONGRATULATIONS to Ian Hay Davison, who has won the accountant's top accolade - the 1998 Founding Societies' Centenary Award.

Not that Mr Hay Davison is the kind of man who needs congratulating too much. He has a pretty healthy view of his own abilities as it is. UK managing partner of Arthur Andersen at 35, he left to tackle the problems of Lloyd's of London as its first chief executive. He has also acted as a DTI inspector into the Stonehouse companies and headed two Price Commission investigations.

And, on the day that The Independent passes into new ownership, let's remember that it was Mr Hay Davison who, as the former head of Newspaper Publishing, the paper's owner, did so much to engineer the previous ownership deal with the Mirror Group.

Indeed, if you were to spend much time with Mr Hay Davison, you might start to imagine that he had single-handedly built the Channel Tunnel and had discovered penicillin to boot. But that would be churlish.

There is one job that has eluded Mr Hay Davison so far, that of chief executive of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the body that gave him this week's award. Andrew Colquhoun has stood down, and the post is being re-designated secretary general.

But Mr Hay Davison laughs at my suggestion. "It's too close to what I did at Lloyd's," he says. He adds that his views on the ICA are well known, that the president's powers should be beefed up so that he, not the secretariat, actually runs the place.

As one former president of the ICA once put it: "About the only thing the president decides at the Institute is what goes on the menus."

YESTERDAY was National No Smoking Day, which didn't put the Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign off from claiming that "tax rises on tobacco hit the poor harder than the rich".

The Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign is funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association. The campaign's claim causes me great concern. Is Eddie George, a famous puffer of multiple packets of fags per day, secretly groaning under the weight of tobacco taxes? And how about poor old Ken Clarke, Prince of the Panatellas?

Lord Cairns, chairman of BAT, is another unrepentant smoker, not to mention most of the directors of Imperial Tobacco. Victor Rice, chief executive officer of LucasVarity, is another unreconstructed puffer who is obviously only one step away from the bailiffs because of his nicotine addiction.

CSFB's tactic of putting "golden handcuffs" on key BZW staff when it bought the equities and corporate finance divisions of the Barclays' investment bank subsidiary is having an impact.

Commerzbank has just poached Mark Eban, an old BZW hand, from CSFB to be its first Global Head of Equity Capital Markets. Right at the end of the press announcement Commerzbank notes: "As one of BZW's key employees, Mark Eban is expected to be kept out of the market for several months before being able to join Commerzbank."

Never mind. I'm sure Mr Eban has plenty of gardening to catch up on.