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.

Send an email to  info@buhistory.org.uk

Sam Smart

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Margery Smart of Glenfield has kindly provided the following information about her family’s involvement at BU – quite a few years ago now!

This story focuses on Henry ‘Sam’ Smart, Margery’s husband, who was a 46 year man. Sam started in the Tool Room in December 1935. During the Second World War Sam continued to work at BU and was also part of the National Fire Service stationed on Melton Road. The first photograph shows Sam (front row, far left) at the 1961 Quarter Century Club annual dinner at Granby Halls. He carried on working at BU for another 20 years, retiring in May 1982.

Margery 2

Margery also worked at BU, doing four years in the Inspection Department. She and Sam married in 1942 and their first child arrived in 1944 – Margery didn’t return to BU after this. Although this wasn’t the end of the family’s association – A son, Paul, born in 1949, later joined BU and worked there for 15 years, once again in the Tool Room.

The recent photo below shows Margery in her garden, and beneath that is a cartoon drawn by talented BU cartoonist George Day on the occasion of Sam’s colleague Fred Jones’s retirement – “Look at him! Sits there worried stiff – Not because he’s leaving this hive of industry… but because he starts working for his proper Coddy next week – His Missus.Margery 3

Margery Cartoon

Date posted: July 12, 2014

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BU from the air – 1934

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Please click on the link below where there are a number of fantastic aerial photos of BUSMC and its surrounds.

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw044673?search=leicester&ref=103

To the centre-right of the photo there are 5 dog-leg roads – the leftmost one of these is Hildyard Road/Macdonald Road, with Ross Walk crossing at the dog-leg. Marjorie Street connects all 5 roads at the bottom.
So the northlight glazed/slated roofs to the left of this is the old IVI, with the area to the left yet to be developed.

(Thanks Stan)

Date posted: June 9, 2014

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Business Cards..

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Paul Price discovered these in his garage the other day..

Image

Date posted: May 30, 2014

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Ted Tilson

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Paul McEvoy has written to us from America…
“I trained in Leicester for a few months before moving to Samco Strong in Bristol. My boss Edwin Ballard Tilson known as Ted Tilson also transferred to Bristol in the early 70′s. Does anyone know what happened to Ted, although I am sure he’s passed away by now…” Thanks & regards, Paul
Do please let us know if you remember Ted; We’ll pass on to Paul. Cheers

Date posted: May 14, 2014

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Ian Breward

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Does any one remember me there or my dad in the drawing office?

Date posted: May 2, 2014

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Ron Rushton

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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.

BU News 1974Leicester MercuryBUSM UNISON

Ron on Radio Leicester

Date posted: April 10, 2014

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Starting work at BU in the

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Thank you to G.F. Densham for keeping these documents safe for so many years and for sharing them with the BU History Group.

 

Date posted: March 21, 2014

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LOST…

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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 info@buhistory.org.uk 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, 2014

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BU Advertising, 1970s

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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, 2014

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News

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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.

info@buhistory.org.uk

Date posted: March 7, 2014

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