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British Industrial History

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British Bata Shoe Co

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British Bata Shoe Co of East Tilbury, Essex. Telephone: Tilbury 800. (1947)

1894 The T. and A. Bata Shoe Company was registered in Zlin, Czechoslovakia by the siblings Tomáš, Anna and Antonín Bata. Innovative, it departed from traditions of the one-man cobblers’ workshop.

1895 Antonin left the company to join the army, sister Anna followed soon after to get married. Tomáš Bata took over the company leadership alone.

1897 Tomáš Bata introduced the first fabric shoe and with it production mechanisation.

1905 Production reached 2,200 pairs per day, produced by 250 employees. Constant innovation of footwear to meet customers’ needs.

1909 First export sales and first sales agencies in Germany, the Balkans and the Middle East. Demand grew rapidly.

1917 Sales reached 2 million pairs per year produced by 5,000 employees. As the company prospered so did the communities where it operated. Bata created stores, built housing, schools and hospitals near factories.

1922 Post World War I, currencies were devalued and consumer purchasing power was at an all time low. Bata cut shoe prices by 50%; stores were flooded with customers.

1925 The Bata system organized operations in autonomous workshops with employee profit sharing, introduced since 1923. The Bata School of Work founded. It provided rigorous education and practical training to future Bata managers.

1929 Introduction of customs tariffs. Bata responded by building factories in Switzerland, Germany, England, France, Yugoslavia, Poland, Holland, the USA and India. By the early 1930s, Bata was the world’s leading footwear exporter.

1932 At the time of Tomáš Bata’s tragic death, in a plane crash, the company intensified diversification into the production of tyres, aircraft, bicycles and machinery.

With the onset of the recession in the 1930's, Reverend Bown of Tilbury approached Tomáš Bata to suggest the siting of a British Factory at East Tilbury, thus supplying work for the youth locally.

1933 The first party of Batamen arrived on the Essex Marshes in May.

As work was very hard to find in the 1930's men and women travelled from all over Thurrock to try to get a job within the New Factory. Representatives from the Factory toured local schools telling students that if they were to work for the British Bata Shoe Company they would be able to afford a car - in a world where there were very few cars this seemed a dream to many. Two of the farm cottages were converted to become the Factory Entrance and the first Bata Shoe Shop at East Tilbury.

1939 Bata operated 63 companies in various industries but footwear remained the core business, with 60 million pairs sold per year in more than 30 countries.

1940 Part of the company management under the leadership of Thomas J. Bata started to operate from Batawa, near Toronto, Canada.

1947 British Industries Fair Advert as Shoemakers to the World. Manufacturers of Boots and Shoes, Leather Goods, Leather, etc. (Leather Goods Section - Earls Court, 1st Floor, Stand No. 422) [1]

1960s The company’s headquarters were officially relocated in Toronto.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1947 British Industries Fair Advert 344; and p39
  • [1] Bata Shoe Stores History
  • [2] Bata Memories