Posts filed as 'Women'

The Hamylton Family and BU


Christine Shaw has written to us about her aunts and an uncle who worked at BU many years ago – Will anyone remember them? Their time working there took place between the 1920s and 1960s.

The story is certainly an interesting one.

A century ago William Hamylton and his wife lived on Humberstone Road in Leicester. They had six children, four girls and two boys. William is recorded in the Kelly’s Directory of 1936 as being an Illusionist by trade! Christine remembers him to be “a clever man who turned his hand to many different things, even to making suits for my father (Clarence) and Uncle Max.”

Clarence became an outstanding optician. His firm, Henry Smith and Hamylton Opticians, are still flourishing to this day with branches across Leicester. Sadly, Clarence passed away at a young age in 1962 while his own children were still of school age.

His brother, Max, worked at BU, as did three of his four sisters; Gladys, Dorothy and Gwen – Phyllis stayed at home to help her mother. Christine has the BU Quarter Century (25 years unbroken service) certificates for each of them. Unusually perhaps, none of the four girls got married. Instead they stayed living together at the family home for all of their lives, initially on Humberstone Road, then moving across town to a house on Welford Road in 1953.


The first picture is of Gwen. She started at BU on 14th April 1928 and worked in the Cashiers Dept.

The second photo is of Dorothy (often known as Dean) and Gwen, taken on the Island of Sark (Dorothy on the left and Gwen on the right).

The third photo is of Max Hamylton; “My Uncle Max was in the  Engineers Dept. And was well known for his meticulous work.”

The fourth photo is of the four Hamylton sisters together; from the left, Dorothy, Gwen, Phyllis and Gladys. The lady on the far right is their friend, another Dorothy.

William, their father, died on Christmas Day, either 1956 or 57. “My Aunt Gwen, who was the youngest, lived until Easter Sunday 2008 and died at the same Welford Road house.”

Quite an extraordinary story, but actually not that unusual. During the twentieth century many working families were intrinsically linked with their employers, across the generations. Sons, daughters, fathers, brothers, all working in the same factory, often living close by their work and even life outside work would involve the company social club, events and sports teams.

This all changed during the last quarter of the century as right across Britain the big manufacturing firms gradually closed down. With their demise, so did this way of life also disappear.

If anyone remembers any of the Hamylton family it would be fantastic to hear from you. Please email to


And thank you, Christine, for sharing your memories of your family and BU.

Date posted: April 30, 2020

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Mark Gamble


This fabulous photo was sent in by Mark Gamble’s mum. Taken at BU sports ground in the 1950s.

BU Sports

Date posted: December 9, 2013

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Karen Pearson


Karen Pearson (nee Wignall) poignantly recalls her time at BU – She is pictured here at her leaving do in 1984 – leaving to have a baby!

karen2“My dad worked at the BU so my early memories of the BU were going to the sports days at the BU Sports ground in Mowmacre Hill.   Also attending the Christmas parties and receiving an apple and an orange from Santa. This photo is from 1961 and the BU sports day – Karen wearing a hat behind her brother.


“I started work in 1974 at the age of 16 on a 12 week training scheme along with quite a few other people. We worked for four weeks in three different departments,  I worked in the drawing office for Jack Moulds. I loved working there because it meant using the paternoster lift which was such good fun. I then went into the Research Dept. working for Eric Pearson. I didn’t make it into the third training department because I was offered a permanent position in the Export Department working for David Holmes as an export clerk.

“My early memories of the BU were of how big the place was and how many people worked there. We had our own doctor and nurses in the medical centre, and our own dentist. I even remember we had a bank on site. I loved the third floor with its cushioned flooring, this was to stop anyone disturbing the Directors. We had so many canteens; mens, ladies, works and the Directors. I remember the wonderful trolley services we had each morning and afternoon, fresh filled rolls etc. in the morning, and cream cakes in the afternoon.

“I worked at the BU for 10 years, I got engaged in 1976 and married in 1977.  I never actually changed jobs, but things progressed and changed along the way. My last job before leaving was as a Secretary working for Jim Smith.  I left in 1984 when I was pregnant. I didn’t return after my baby was born but worked at some other places before having my second child in 1986.  In approx. 1992 I saw a job advertised part time at the BU working in Regent Rebuilds for Alan Godwin.  I got the job and my love affair with the BU started again. I moved from Regent Rebuilds and started working for David Evans in the Lasting Department as a Secretary. This has to be my most favourite job – I did all the secretarial work for the whole department, arranging travel for the technicians, typing reports, arranging buffets for the meetings, absolutely anything and loved it.

“That all came to an end I believe when APAX took over. The Secretaries in each Department were put together in a customer service environment. We all hated it – that was almost the worst period of my life at the BU.  


“Then things got even worse in 2000 when the company got into difficulty and the Receivers were called in, I remember that day so clearly – a group of people in black suits came in and told everyone to stop what they were doing.  A while later people were tapped on the shoulder and sent to different rooms. I was in a room with approx. 30 people and we were told our jobs were safe. There was a room of approx.500 people who were all told that they were redundant !! All day people were leaving – it was a very sad day with lots of tears.

“The small group that were eventually left had to work for the Receivers for a while, then four Directors bought the company back and we started again. We eventually moved to brand new premises in Enderby. A few years later the company started failing again and we moved to very small premises in Whetstone, until eventually in 2006, the Administrators came in.  Again we had no knowledge of it happening, more people in black suits.  I was called up first and told that when people’s names were called out I had to take their mobile phones, laptops, car keys and any other BU possessions off them. They were then sent off the premises.    A very small number of us were kept on to wind the company down. I think I was probably one of about six people that were there until the very end. We packed all the tools and equipment up into massive crates and that was that. The End of an Era.”

(You can read about Karen’s dad, Phil Wignall in an earlier post – he is second on the left in this picture at the time he was made redundant).redundant

Date posted: December 5, 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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