Reminiscence and Resource Centre












Eighty Years of Service with British Bata
Nearly 80 years of British Bata service is the total of which seven members of the Haxell family working at East Tilbury, are able to boast. The Haxells are one of the best known groups of relatives in the factory, being represented in several departments.
Two of them - Sundries buyer Jack (left) and Foreman George (below) - have been here for more than 20 years, and a third, Eric Mosby, their brother-in-law, has been a Bataman for 19 years.
Other members of this family present are Gladys Mosby and Ethel Sawdy, their sisters, and Evelyn, George's wife.
The East Tilbury factory had been established only three months when Jack started in October 1933, on the Elliott-Fisher machines. Then, the main offices, buying department, and stockrooms were in one single-storey building.
Jack was subsequently transferred to book-keeping in the leather factory. He was appointed to the buying department on returning from the Royal Air Force, in which he served in Coastal Command, being engaged on anti-submarine activity.
Shoe-dressing in Dept 471 is Gladys Mosby, who has been a Batawoman since 1941, doing the same work, on several designs of shoes, all the time. She came to East Tilbury, after war-time service in Grays Post Office, because she wanted part-time work, and was told by friends and relatives of the opportunities at East Tilbury. Since the floods of January last year, she has been on full time, and has not regretted the change.
Gladys is an old-time dancing enthusiast, and is a regular patron of Tilbury community centre. She is also keen on knitting, and is always making something for herself or her husband.
He, Eric (left), is waist-lasting in Dept 423. He has been doing this work for most of his 19 years at East Tilbury, and has an extnesive knowledgte of leather shoemaking. "I really do like it here," he said, "Most of the family were here when I left the Royal Navy (in shich he served as cook on minesweepers), so I came, too, and was glad."
Eric, like Gladys, is fond of old-time dancing, and is a keen gardener, having won several prizes and diplomas at horticultural shows at Tilbury.
He now buys zips, cotton, thread, wire, hooks, eyelets, and other sundries which form an important purview of the buying department, and enormous quantities of which come to the factory, to find their way to the production departments via Jack and the stockroom.
"I have certainly seen the factory grow," said Jack to the Bata Record. "When I first came, there were two buyers for everything. Now there are ten, and there was no heating - we sat and worked in our overcoats."
Many of the older generaton of Bata workers will best remember Jack as a footballer. He joined Bata Sports team when it was established 20 years ago, and was the longest-playing member of the original team.
Jack played regularly right down to last August, when he appeared in the inter-departmental contests. For several years he was skipper.
He also did wll at the Annual Bata sports, when he ran the 100 and 220 yards races, and competed in the high and long jump, being champion athlete several times.
"I enjoy my work," he said ,"The buying everywhere is organised to the hilt. The "oddments" for which I am responsible are, I like to feel, quite essential to the successful production of Bata shoes."
George, who started about a year after Jack, told Bata Record that he has made every design the leather factory has produced during the past 20 years, except monolliths.
Now foreman of Dept 471, where leather and crepe soled goodyear-welted shoes are made, he first learned toe-lasting in the school, to which he came back as lasting instructor, after spending three months at Zlin. Soon he became foreman of the school, and then of Dept 421, which made women's shoes.
Three years' service in the army was followed by a return as foreman of Dept 441, to which he had transferred before service. There he supervised the construction of staple-welted shoes. He has been in charge of Dept 471 for a year. Ten years ago, he, like his brother, played football for Bata Sports, and was on the football committee of the Sports Club.
George spends most of his leisure moments - in the spring and summer, anyway - in his car,
He has a good word to say of the workers in the departments of which he has had control - not least of his present team, with whom he is notably popular. Like Jack, he has seen the East Tilbury factory grow from a small beginning to its present size.
Ethel Sawdry (right) is the oldest of the Haxells, and is a packer in the claims department, where she has worked for three and a half years. Naturally active, she wanted to work near the rest of the family, and has never been other than happy. "They are a grand crwod of companions here," she told the Bata Record.
Ethel's activity included valuable wartime work for the Red Cross Penny-a-week collecting. She is also collector for the Chestnut avenue, Grays National Savings Group. Busy with her hands, she not only knits and sews but is an expert crochet-worker.
Another ardent needlewoman is Evelyn (below), who has been in Dept 405 for three years. Her spare time speciality is smocking, ans she has produced attractive hand-embroidered garments.
During the war, Evelyn was a clicker in Dept 405. A year ago, she came back, because she liked the work and the people, and is now on the preparing table, where she is a rapid and capable worker.
A younger sister, Vera Haxell, used to work in the hosiery department.
Doris Haxell, Jack's wife, was a typist, and Tom Wilson, brother-in-law to Jack and George, and Ken Sawdy, their nephew, are also former Batamen.
While forming a sturdy background, Walter Haxell, father to the brothers and sisters, was a gardener for the Company.
Latest member of the Haxell family is Margaret Sawdy, dkiving in Dept 405.

George Haxell was also in the Bata Record as part of the "They made good" series.


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