Posts filed as 'Quarter Century Club'

Great Days


Leslie Hubble has posted this brilliant photo of the Quarter Century Club from the 1960s.


Left to right; Eddie Orme, Glen (Taffy) Evans, Bill Leadbetter, his brother Frank, and Charlie Jerrom.

Date posted: October 11, 2015

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Quarter Century Club Keyring


Probably not so many people qualifying for these clubs anymore – working for one company for 25 continuous years.

Doubt if such a thing still exists: None that I know of …IMG_2189

Date posted: October 6, 2015

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Sad News


With much sadness we have received news of the death of Frank Smith, aged 95, on Friday December 13th 2013.

Frank’s funeral takes place at 10am on Thursday January 10th at St Thomas More Church on Knighton Road, Leicester.

Frank wearing the President's Chain for the Quarter Century Club

Frank joined BU aged 14 in 1934 as an errand boy. He then began an apprenticeship in engineering, what Frank described as his saving grace, as it set him up for so many things in life.

He joined the army at the outbreak of the Second World War and was involved at Dunkirk and later in Burma. Incredibly he rose to the rank of Major by the end and was awarded the MBE for bravery in action.

Frank Smith during the War

Frank returned to BU after the war and worked in the drawing office, experimental design office and shoe material research department. It was during these 30 or so post war years that BU reached its zenith, dominating the world shoe machinery market. The excellence and sophistication of it’s products, developed and produced in house, were unrivalled. Frank was invited to join the BU Board of Management in 1978, and in 1979 he was president of the Quarter Century Club. He retired in 1981 – 48 years at BU, minus seven serving in the forces.

Frank’s wife Marjorie pre-deceased him. Together they had seven children and lived in the Knighton area of Leicester. Our condolences to all his family.

In 2012 Frank recorded his memories of life and BU, and these can be heard on the BU history website. It was such a pleasure to meet Frank; his intelligence and kindness and strength shined brightly.

Date posted: December 16, 2013

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Graham Beck


Graham Beck recalls his family connection with BU.Negative

Just before the Great War my Grandfather, William Underwood (pictured left, seated with moustache), was sent by BU to Paris in order to instruct employees of a French company on the workings of BU machines. Unfortunately he was of similar stature and build to Count Bismark the German Chancellor. Since tensions were running high between the countries the French police arrested William thinking him a German spy. He spoke no French and they no English so he spent many hours in custody.

Graham’s mother, Gladys, is also in the photo above, the youngest girl to her dad’s left. She worked in the secretarial pool and married Cyril Beck, another BU man – Of course! Remarkably after their marriage Gladys was allowed to stay on at BU. Prior to this married women were not allowed to work at BU!

Graham’s two Uncles on his mothers side, Wilf and Alf, also in the photo above, joined BU before later moving away. Wilf to the Bristol depot and Alf to London – both Quarter Century Club men. Operatic

Cyril Beck, Graham’s father spent all his working life at BU. First as an Engineer, then an Engineer Inspector, and then into the Technical Office. In the late 1940s he joined the BU Male Voice Choir and my mother and I went all over the Midlands to both competitions and concerts. He was a choir member up until he retired in 1962 and can be seen in the photo on the far right of the third row back, wearing glasses. He was also a member of the Quarter Century Club.

Date posted: November 21, 2013

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Phil Wignall


Four chapsMy 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.46

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 night himself, his wife and friends used to go to the BU Sports Club.

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

QCC stewards

Second left, front row, 1968.

He 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: November 18, 2013


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George Holmes


Margaret Walne has sent us the following memories about her father, George Holmes.

George Holmes, President Quarter Century Club 1958

George Holmes, President Quarter Century Club 1958

My father George Holmes was in the shoe machinery industry for 52 years.  He began his career with the Gimson Shoe Machinery Company during the Great War where he served his full time under Indentiture with the exception of a period dating from 4 April 1918 to 10 February 1919 during which time he was called up for military service.  He moved to the BUSM’s head office in Leicester when the two firms amalgamated in 1930.   On the commercial management side he was well known to shoe manufacturers in many countries and travelled extensively to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and in the early days these trips were made by ship, being away from home sometimes for three months at a time.   He became a director in 1946 and assistant managing director in 1956 and retired in 1968.   He died in 1990 aged 91. 

It is very sad that this great company is no longer in existence.  I don’t recall ever visiting the offices or factory but do remember the excellent productions put on  by the Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society.  I also remember having old wooden shoe lasts to burn on our open fire at home!

Date posted: November 1, 2013

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Knife Shop 2


Following on from the ‘Knife Shop 1’ post, Eric Johnson has kindly shared some tremendous pictures of himself and workmates from his department.


The picture above is taken at a 25 year dinner at Samco in Bristol. L-R, Mr Kinder, Bert Harrison, Eric Johnson and Sis Hawksworth.


In this picture Eric is standing at a Die Sinking machine. Below is another Quarter Century club dinner ocassion. Eric again, with pals Sis and Bert.








Finally, there is a lovely photo looking along Ross Walk from the 1970s.


Date posted: August 23, 2013

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