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The British United Shoe Machinery Company (BU) was Leicester’s greatest manufacturing company. It existed between 1899 and 2000, spanned the twentieth century, and at it’s peak employed 4000 people at it’s Union Works site in Leicester.

The BU History Group wants to hear from you. Please share your memories and photographs.

Send an email to  info@buhistory.org.uk

Frederick Burton

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Tony Burton writes from Glasgow… “Hello, my grandfather Frederick Burton, 1884-1959, was employed as a sheet metal worker at the BUSM Co. He continued to work for them during the war and told me that they built a mock farm on the roof and glass panels on the nearby Rushy Fields to confuse the German bombers. I think Fred was a foreman but I know little more about his work.
Do you have any information on the sheet metal workers at the company or any information on what went on during the second world war?”

If you can assist Tony please send an email to tony305@btinternet.com

 

Date posted: September 24, 2017

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American Connection

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A couple of enquiries which BU History viewers might be able to assist with. Send replies to info@buhistory.org please.

Firstly, from Grahame Jordan…

“I’d like to find more information about the American inventors who came to develop new machinery at the BU Belgrave Road site. I am a Leicester resident, born to a BU worker, whose father was ‘an American Inventor’ of shoe machinery.”

And also from… Audrey Fuller in the USA.

“Hello, I recently purchased a very old cobbler machine, the story is that it came out of a copper mine owned by the Phelps Dodge Co. in Morenci Arizona, it was used to repair the miners work boots.  I cannot find a number on the machine other than a 6hm and it is the only red one I’ve seen on the internet, not sure if it came that way or that someone in the past had painted it.

Can you tell me anything about these machines that have the John O Flarerhty Montreal Agents on the wheel, some of them only have The British United shoe Machine co. on them. Are these machines rare?  Any information would be so helpful, I’ve enclosed a few pictures of it, hope this helps.”

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Date posted: August 9, 2017

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Oil Can

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Maarten Beijen found this beautiful oil can on a market in Romans sur Isere, France, last Sunday.

What would it be used for??Oil tin

Date posted: July 11, 2017

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BU Heritage Panel Unveiled

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The launch of the BUSMC heritage interpretation panel project took place on Belgrave Road across the road from the front entrance to Union Works on Wednesday 5th April. 

The City Mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby, attended and made a short speech. The panel is situated outside IndiKal (87 Belgrave Road). 

Sign post to Happy Memories. Former employees of BUSM join the City Mayor at the unveiling of the new heritage sign on Belgrave Road. L to R Ellen Hewitt, Mick Lambert, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, Karon Pearson, Praful Thakrar, Cllr Adam Clarke, Sir Peter Soulsby, Alan Carlisle, Paul Gill, Sally Coleman and Kathy Gill

‘Sign post to Happy Memories’. Former employees of BUSM join the City Mayor at the unveiling of the new heritage sign on Belgrave Road.
L to R
Ellen Hewitt, Mick Lambert, Cllr Piara Singh Clair, Karon Pearson, Praful Thakrar, Cllr Adam Clarke, Sir Peter Soulsby, Alan Carlisle, Paul Gill, Sally Coleman and Kathy Gill

BUSM panel

Date posted: May 1, 2017

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Any Old Info

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Marc Harris (USA) has a beautiful BUSM leather machine (pics below) that he plans to donate to the San Jose Historical Museum in California and would like to know the date of manufacture. The serial number is 5472.  Any info would be appreciated!Serial_smBUSM1

Date posted: March 5, 2017

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Sad News

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Karen Pearson has contacted us to tell us that her father, Phil Wignall, passed away last Sunday. He was 91. For all who remember him the funeral is on Thursday, March 2nd at 12 o;clock at Countesthorpe Crematorium.

Phil was a BU man from age 14 until being made redundant in 1982.

In the post below we republish Karen’s lovely story about her dad.

Date posted: February 16, 2017

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Phil Wignall

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Karen Pearson’s story about her dad, Phil Wignall, who passed away on 12th February 2017.

First posted on this site in November 2013 when Phil was 89.

Four chaps

My father George (Phil) Wignall.  Pictured above with, L-R, George Matthews, Phil, Roy Remmington, and Jack Harrison – on a 1960s Toolroom outing to London.

Phil started work aged 14 on Sept. 9th 1939. Shortly after this World War II broke out and he was drafted into the RAF. He returned to the BU after the war in 1946

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Phil played football for the BU Team in 1946. They got to a final and he didn’t get picked so never played for them again. He did play for the Tool Room football team for many years. He played snooker for the company and he was also a first team player for the Latimer Ward Club from an early age until finally giving up only a few years ago. He has great memories of the BU grounds, playing sport and attending BU sports days with his family. Also on a Saturday nights himself, his wife and friends used to go to the BU Sports Club.

QCC stewards

 

He was also a member of the BU Quarter Century Club and was a Steward for a number of years.

QCC Stewards

Second left, front row, 1968.

 

 

 

 

redundantHe worked his way up to Foreman of the Tool Room and then was made redundant at the age of 57 in 1982.

Phil is second left in the picture below along with Jack Granger, Len Bosworth and John Neal.

Date posted:

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Snooker Loopy!

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Ray North has just discovered this little beauty – BUAC & I (British United Athletic Club and Institute). It was from a snooker competition, 1932-33, but with no winners named. Four inches tall.A7F87E87DA2E455D945F7BE459892FAD

Date posted: January 26, 2017

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SAVED!

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2016-11-26_12-19-18

This plaque from 1914 contains the names of all those BU workers who went off to war (220 names I think). A massively important item. Incredibly, and disgustingly, it was left to rot in the old BU headquarters by the last owners (APAX partners – they’re still around!).

Thankfully it was found and rescued from the Ross Walk site by Matt (pictured left) and Rick. They have donated the plaque to the At Risk War Memorial Trust. “It can now be enjoyed by the people of Leicester for good.”

 

Roll of Honour

 

 

Date posted: November 26, 2016

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Oral History

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Hi Everyone. Colin Hyde from the East Midlands Oral History Archive at Leicester University has some students who want to record memories of work and industry in Leicester before 1980 and they’re struggling to find people. He’s asked me if any BUSM people would agree to be recorded for half an hour by a student? Do let me know and I’ll pass on to Colin. Could be fun and interesting. Email info@buhistory.org.uk or burtmcneill@ntlworld.com

Date posted: November 10, 2016

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