Popular Shopping Rendezvous. - 1963
British Bata opened its first store in Grays early in 1935. It was small - considering its proximity to the factory, and not specially noteworthy, but it did good business for more than 22 years until, in 1957, the Company took the opportunity of acquiring larger premises next door - at No 73, High Street.
Bata gave the new building a complete face lift, thoroughly modernised it, and opened it on a day which showed no regard for superstition - Friday the thirteenth (of December).
This was an auspicious occasion.
The store was opened by Mr Thomas Bata, with whom were Mrs Bata and Mr John Tusa, managing director. Soon, these three people, with others in the opening party, as well as the manager and staff, were busy selling shoes to hundreds of customers.
The alleged bad luck associated with Friday the thirteenth certainly did not apply to this British Bata store. It rapidly became one of the most prosperous Bata stores in the south, and, from the start, was one of the most striking retail establishments in Grays.
Particularly noticeable are the very large vestibule windows, and the glass doors down to the ground giving the clearest possible view of the large and varied stock.
Beautifully furnished, with a large sales floor, spotlighted wall displays, latest-type, most effective lighting, and striking murals, the store is a major shopping rendezvous in the High Street, particularly when special offers, and new and topical footwear and accessories are set out.
There is never a slack moment at the Grays British Bata Store.
The manager of the store today is Mr Edward Thorogood, who joined British Bata in 1937 and, except for his war service, has been in the Company’s shops ever since.
He was for three years a prisoner of war.
Until he took over the management of the Grays store, in 1959, he had been manager and assistant in a number of stores in the London area.
The store, with Mr Thorogood (inset), are shown above.