Followed in Father’s footsteps. - 1947
Thomas Doulton, sole moulder in Dept 402, here seen speaking to Foreman Arthur Mathews, has been at East Tilbury for only a year but has been in the shoemaking industry all his life. His father was a master bootmaker, and Thomas at a very early age decided to follow in his father’s footprints. When Thomas was only seven his father died, seven years later he began work in a shoe factory in his native London. There was no apprenticeship system. Youngsters of promise were picked out and offered an opportunity to become proficient in the operation of different machines.
Starting at cementing insoles, Thomas soon had passed through cutting, lasting and other operations. After a time he found a new job in a factory at Leyton and eventually became foreman in the “stuck-on soles” department. Here leather soles were ruffled round the edges by a wire-brush machine, bordered with latex, passed through a steam chamber to mellow, and attached to the shoe on a special moulder. There was neither sewing nor screwing.
The crisis year of 1938 arrived. As a member of the Territorials Thomas was called up but returned home a couple of months later as the danger seemed to pass. He was recalled in August, 1939, and saw service in North Africa and Italy before being demobbed and returning to his Corringham home.
Just before going overseas he married the Stanford girl whom he had met during his first year of Army service when he was stationed at Stanford and Bucklands Camp.
“The funny thing about it,” he remarked, “is that immediately I went into the Army I applied to be trained as a shoemaker to the regiment. Trained I was alright, but not as a shoemaker. I came out of the Army a sergeant fitter.”
He is scoutmaster of the Corringham troop, has done quite a bit of cycling and road racing, and has just begun his new hobby - making bedside lampstands.