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In 1933 a factory was opened on the Essex Marshes at East Tilbury by the Bata Shoe Company. This Company was based in Czechoslovakia and had been founded by Tomas Bata, who was killed in 1932 in a plane crash.
Over the next 70 years Bata was an important part of the local economy and an international community grew up on the Bata Estate, houses built for the workers by the Company. The people who lived and worked in this community have many memories of both the good and bad times and we in the Bata Heritage Centre are trying to collect these memories in order that future generations will better understand some of the Social History of the C20th.
In the process of collecting memories we have also built up a vast collection of artifacts and photographs pertaining to British Bata which are available for all to see within the Bata Heritage Centre.
In April 1993 the Bata Estate and Factory at East Tilbury became designated as a Conservation Area as it was realised what an important place this is.
To complement the Conservation Area a Reminiscence and Resource Centre has been built within the local library to house the memories of the people who have been a part of this community, as well as photographs and artifacts donated by them.
The Bata Heritage Centre was opened in April 2002 by Mrs Sheila Plampton who was the first baby born on the Bata Estate that we were able to trace.
Since it’s opening the Bata Heritage Centre has gone from strength to strength and the collection has grown rapidly.
In October 2007, with the help of a grant from the East of England Development Agency, the Centre and Library have been upgraded to supply new display cases, storage and space for the Centre and new shelving and furniture for the library. The improved facilities will allow for better use of the Resources available for the local community and visitors to this important historical site.
On Friday 2nd November 2007 the library and The Bata Heritage Centre played host to many local dignitaries and the ribbon declaring the building open was cut by Evelyn Haxell, a long term resident of the Bata Estate and oldest of the volunteers who run the Centre.
It was soon realised that we could not single out the life and times of the people of the Bata Community at East Tilbury as they were so intertwined with other parts of the Company around both this Country and the world that these parts were inseparable.
The Centre now has sections about all of the subsidiaries in the UK as well as a small amount about other Bata Communities around the world.
To assist with research, the Centre has recently had a grant from the Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation in order to purchase copies of the Bata Record on CD. This is a complete set of the Bata Record.
The picture on the left shows Jean Angus of the Development Corporation handing this over to Fred Price and Joan James of the Bata Heritage Centre.
We have recently managed to get another Grant from Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation which will allow us to get a book printed on the Social Side of British Bata written by Angela Cook, Nee Rumsey.
Copies of this book are now available from the Bata Heritage Centre East Tilbury Library
Essex RM18 8ST
at £3 each plus postage and packing as below:
Mainland UK £2 Total £5.00
Europe £2.50 Total £5.50
Rest of the world £3.50 Total £6.50
Please make cheques payable to “Bata Heritage Centre”
Today’s Bata Heritage Centre Volunteers and Ms Rosemarie Bata in centre of group.