Although I was born in Gravesend, my family have strong connections with Essex for my Grandmother's family farmed at Orsett. Her married name was Shelford and her Maiden name was Bass and she was of the Brewing Family of Bass's Pale Ale fame. She married Samuel Alder at Mucking Church, he was a boot maker and had his shop in Princers Street, Gravesend.
Up to the start of the War I worked in a Paper Mill then I joined the Royal Air force and served as an Instructor at a Pilot's Training School being awarded a certificate of Merit. On leaving the Air Force my machine at the Paper Mills having been bombed in the war, I went Coach Building, making the first all metal coaches. After two years we couldn't get material so were stood off. I was told that Procter and Gamble of Grays needed man so I took my bike across the ferry to Tilbury, but instead of taking the road to Grays I took the road to East Tilbury and what stood before me was Bata's. So I went in and asked if they had any vacancies. When they knew that I had been Coach Building they said they were starting a department to make their shop furniture which a chrome plant as well. I started in No 714 Department of the Engineers. They asked me if I knew any others who had been Coach Building with me, so I got three friends to come and we all did 25 years service. We made shoe racks, chairs, mirrors, foot-stools etc.
On finding out about my family history I became friends with a senior member of the Church and Essex Council who helped to bring Bata's to East Tilbury. Ford, the Motor firm, was offered the site and the Government was for them to come but not having a deep water jetty they went to Dagenham instead, so it was offered to Bata, who were interested in coming to England. So with Government help it was signed. The Church was asked to pick 30 young men of good standing to go to Zlin in Czecheslovakia to train to be foreman for the new factory, 15 for the Rubber Factory and 15 for the Leather Factory. After they had been to Zlin for a period the Church people offered to give a cup to be played for a game of football between the English boys and the Czechs. Bata agreed providing it was bought in Bata's shop.
We were a good team and earned a very good wage on peace work. I represented 714 department on the Management Advisory Committee for a number of years and it was a pleasure to go to work. Then I was struck down with illness and had two thirds of my stomach taken away so I was put in the Engineers Stores where we sent out parts to all parts of the world for the machines which were made in East Tilbury. I ended my time at East Tilbuiry being in charge of the Stores.