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With the onset of the recession in the 1930’s, Reverend Bown of Tilbury approached Tomas Bata to suggest the siting of a British Factory at East Tilbury, thus supplying work for the youth locally.

Thomas Masaryk, Reverend Bown and Tomas Bata (pre 1933)
Thomas Masaryk, Reverend Bown and Tomas Bata (pre 1933)

The picture on the left shows Thomas Garrigue Masaryk, Reverend Bown and Tomas Bata meeting. We do not have a date for this meeting although we know that it must have been before 1933.

The first party of Batamen arrived on the Essex Marshes in May 1933 and lived in the Farmhouse, and did their own cooking on a paraffin stove.

St Clere's Hall, East Tilbury in the early 1930s
St Clere’s Hall, East Tilbury in the early 1930’s
Mr W W Wilson
Mr W W Wilson

When they arrived at St. Clere’s Hall, the home of Mr. W.W.Wilson, who had sold the land for the Factory to Tomas Bata, they were shown to the factory, a small building in a lane between fields of corn and potatoes. The building was not ready as the machinery had been delayed.

As work was very hard to find in the 1930’s men and women travelled from all over Thurrock to try to get a job within the New Factory.

Farm workers at St Clere's Hall in the early 1930's.
Farm workers at St Clere’s Hall in the early 1930’s.

Representatives from the Factory toured local schools telling students that if they were to work for the British Bata Shoe Company they would be able to afford a car, in a world where there were very few cars this seemed a dream to many.  Two of the farm cottages were converted to become the Factory Entrance and the first Bata Shoe shop at East Tilbury. These cottages were eventually demolished to make way for a purpose built gate house.

Thomas John Bata, son of Tomas, trained as a shoemaker at East Tilbury and was required to clock in like all other employees. Thomas died in 2008, just before his 93rd birthday.  You can find more information about him by visiting the Bata website on www.bata.com.