WELCOME TO THE BU HISTORY WEBSITE
The BU History Group urgently need new members to keep the group running. If you’d like to get involved please get in touch.
Learn more about one of Leicester’s greatest engineering firms, the British United Shoe Machinery Company. You can share your memories and photographs too.
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Ron, who passed away in 2011, was a store-keeper at BU and a 25 year man. His son Stewart has written to us about Ron’s unusual hobby, one which got quite a bit of media coverage at the time. He wrote letters to famous politicians – often receiving replies. Stewart is currently scanning the scrapbooks of replies and hopes to publish them in due course. Below are some cuttings from the 1970s (Unison and Leicester Mercury) and Ron being interviewed on Radio Leicester.
Date posted: April 10, 2014No Comments
Starting work at BU in the0
Nick Berry has asked if we can help him trace a lost family film that may well have a BU connection… Please read his letter below and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any ideas. Its a long shot, but I know how important finding this film is for Nick and his family.
“Hello, I am hoping that you will be able to help me trace some family history that was accidently lost over 25 years ago. The items in question were cine films, mainly of family holidays and important events (Birthdays, Christmas’ etc) that were made by my Grandfather and Great Grandfather during the 1960s and 1970s around the Leicester area.
“They were lent by my great grandfather to the family of one of his friends, as they were featured in one or two of the films. However, unfortunately he then suddenly became ill and passed away without revealing the whereabouts of the films and despite a frantic search the whole archive was lost.
“My Grandfather (who worked at the X-Ray Astronomy Department at Leicester University) passed away in 2000 (also very suddenly) and my Grandmother still often talks about these lost films and that it would be nice to see them again.
“Therefore, I am hoping to try and trace the person who has borrowed these films for almost 30 years and reunite my family with a bit of lost history, which I myself have never seen.
“I know it is a bit of a long shot as anything could have happened to them in the intervening years, but any assistance you could give to this task would be greatly appreciated.
“I know they lived in Leicester and would have been friends of Norman and Dorothy Johnson, formerly of Edgeley Road Countesthorpe. Norman used to work at British United Shoe Machinery, from after the war until the 1970s. The person in question was either a friend from Countesthorpe or could have been a colleague from BUSM and probably went on holiday with them to Scotland, Ireland or Jersey at some point in the 1960s / 70s. I know that the chances they are still alive are slim, but I do hope that their children might still have the films, or at least know where they are.”
Kind regards, Nick Berry
Date posted: March 13, 2014No Comments
BU Advertising, 1970s0
Memories of the BU Advertising Department, from Walter Baynes. As well as machinery, BU also made and sold vast amounts of shoe making machinery.
“Dick Kursa is cameraman and Peter Minshall on sound recording – A businessman exiting his private plane, before driving off in his Rolls Royce and wearing shoes featuring ‘Clarino’ uppers. BU marketed Clarino, a poromeric upper material, as a synthetic substitute for leather, having many of leather’s high quality properties.
“Filmed at Leicester Aero Club it was an exciting sequence to shoot and looked stunning in the finished programme. You saw the plane land, taxi, the chauffeur driven Rolls pulls alongside, business man gets in and is driven off. At every opportunity there is a close-up of the stylish, expensive looking pair of shoes! Those were the days!”
Date posted: March 10, 2014No Comments
Peter Mayes has passed on sad news of three ex BU Tool Room who have passed away recently. Bob Stafford, Derek Hunt and Gordon Freeman. RiP
John and Joyce Holt are wondering if anyone remembers their respective dads who both worked at BU. Joyce’s dad was Ken Benner (died 1979) and he worked in the AS2 Assembly Shop, and John’s dad, Tom Holt, worked in AS1 and Personnel, retiring in 1985. John himself worked in the Drawing Office until September 10th 1976. Be nice to hear from you if you do remember them.
Mick Haywood remembers Gordon Freeman and Tom Holt (see both items above)… “Gordon was for some the officer in charge of the BU fire Brigade along with Bart Hansford and Geoff Knight. Tom Holt who then worked in personnel also was involved along with his other duties of security. I was the last to have charge of the fire brigade and had the sad duty of closing it down on the orders of management when it had reached the long service of 99years. I was not allowed to maintain it for one more year so as to attain its centenary. The Austin Gipsy fire engine passed into the hands of a Mr Goldstein, who bought the site at the very end of texons days and I believe it was sold at a classic vehicle fair in Birmingham.”
On Friday March 14th there’s a meeting of the BU History Group committee at the Record Office in Wigston. 10.30 start. We need people to help get things going, so if you fancy it please come along.
Date posted: March 7, 2014No Comments
Glyn Jones has sent us his memories below.. BU Boy…
“I joined the BU in July 1966 I was only 14 and 10 months old (birthday 29th August). I was only a little lad and the BU was huge. I trained in the apprentice section on the fourth floor of the main building along with about 80 other young hopefuls. I stayed at the Belgrave road site for about 18 months before moving to Charnwood Branch on the Abbey Lane, a much smaller building. I remember I worked in several of the departments in Charnwood but spent most of my time there building machinery. Although we built shoe making machines we also built an assortment of other machine as diverse as screen printing and conveyors to chip making machines for the catering industry. In about 1969 I remember helping to build a huge machine that cut out the material for making ladies bra’s. A roll of cloth was loaded into one end and out came all the bits to make the bra’s from the other end. 80 x 12ft and stood 8 ft high.”
“My father in law Ted Elkington worked in the stamping dept and set up all the machines for the operators , who were mainly ladies. Ted worked at the BU all his life and in his younger life travelled the county installing machines. I will talk more about him later.
“Charnwood had a new extension in about 1970 and the fitting section moved out to the last building on Ross Walk next to the sea cadets hut. We were there for about 12 months until the new building was built.
I have never forgotten my time at the BU , had a great apprenticeship meeting some great people on the way. I left in 1977 to join the NHS as an engineer in the maintenance department. Moved though the ranks retiring as the engineering manager of a Shropshire hospital.”
“Hope I’m not too late for the tool box contest. I made two of these and all of the tools in the other picture. They both originally had lots of BU stickers on but as I moved jobs the tool boxes changed their use. If you look closely you can see I used one of the box’s as a key box when I did high voltage maintenance, and still have them to this day.”
Date posted: March 4, 2014No Comments
Help! BU product needed…0
We’ve had an urgent request from Paula Aluai in Portugal. Have a read through Paula’s letter below and if you’re able to help please send an email to email@example.com“First of all let me introduce myself.
“I am Paula Aluai and I am working in a cutting knives industry. To make cutting knives we need to have molds made in paperboard or plastic. Usually we used the paperboard, but as the winter is very wet the paperboard doesn’t guaranty the dimensions.
“In the past we used a product produced by BUSM. The product is a plastic layer, orange plastic layer, used to make mold for the shoes industry. This layer is put on a Plotter machine that cuts the mold exactly as we need. As I can’t find anything compared to this specific product, I am contacting you in order to see if you can help to find someone who produces this product.
“This is very important to us to get this layer urgently. Thank you in advance and I look forward to hearing from you soon.”
Date posted: March 3, 2014No Comments