Posts filed as 'Read'

American Connection


A couple of enquiries which BU History viewers might be able to assist with. Send replies to 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.”


Date posted: August 9, 2017

No Comments

Add a Comment

BU Heritage Panel Unveiled


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

No Comments

Add a Comment

Any Old Info


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

No Comments

Add a Comment

Phil Wignall


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


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: February 16, 2017

No Comments

Add a Comment





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

No Comments

Add a Comment

Oral History


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 or

Date posted: November 10, 2016

No Comments

Add a Comment

BU Internal Phone Book


Mary Hubble’s copy of the Ewart/Texon (so many names from BUSMC) phone book from the late 1990s

BU Phonebook

Mary and her husband worked for the BU and finished at Texon in 2002. She got a job still on the site and was last to leave before it was demolished.

Mary Hubble Phone internal



Date posted: October 31, 2016

No Comments

Add a Comment

Info Wanted


Graham Damant –
I have just bought a Pearson sewiung machine and have managed to work out how the basics work and its stitching well. However it would be useful to have a manual, any ideas where I could buy one.

Vishal –

I was wondering if you could help me i am searching for the old BUSM building plans, i need help locating these blueprints as we want to see what the building roof was built from. We are looking at this part of belgrave commercial centre as we wanted to know what the roof was constructed on.
If anyone can help just email in please to I know both would be very grateful for any help

Date posted: October 19, 2016

No Comments

Add a Comment

Model SD.173


Dave Porthouse has sent us some images of his machine: Dusty, then cleaned up.

image1image1 2

“I did use this machine many years ago when making some leather moccasin type slippers and basically it punctures the leather to enable it to be neatly stitched. The crank arm with the wooden handle drives the straight cut gears at approximately a 1:2 ratio which in turn drives the spindle. Locked to the spindle on the business side is a sharp pointed wheel like a small spur. The working platform has an adjustable fence to set the spacing between the edge of the leather and the line of stitching . The platform has the adjustable spring loaded tensioner that applies the piercing pressure via what looks like a tuffnol roller. It is set for single row stitching but I can see from the roller that it has been used for double row stitching by fitting an additional spur wheel. Although it is just over 12″ wide and 8.5″ tall it weighs in at 13lbs on my bathroom scales.”

Date posted: September 6, 2016

No Comments

Add a Comment

Machine Found!


Alan Foster from AIM Engineering in Glossop, Derbyshire, has been in touch about this item….


“Hello there, We have found an old The British United Shoe Machine Company LTD in an old derelict building we recently bought. I attach some pictures and would be grateful of any user manual or help in how to disassemble it ? It looks to weigh over a ton and is on the first floor so difficult to move. It is free to anyone who can collect it ( It looks awkward to get out as there are no stairs!)


Any information welcomed as I have found the BU history website fun to visit.

Regards, Alan


Phone; 0145 786 2505.

Date posted: June 9, 2016

No Comments

Add a Comment