East Tilbury, just like our partner Batanagar in Kolkata, was home to the BATA shoe company, set up by Czechoslovak industrialist Tomas Bata in 1932 to help alleviate unemployment during the great depression. The estate was based on Bata's home town of Zlin and came complete with worker housing, a primary school, a technical college, a village hall and sporting facilities for the employees. He believed in a high level of business morality with profit sharing and support, with housing and welfare, producing competitively priced footwear with a moto of being able to "shoe the world at an affordable price" until it closed in 2005.
The pupils from Harris Academy Chafford Hundred, community members and artists were delighted to hear of the history first hand from locals whose parents had worked in the factory. Stories were told about the football team who regularly played against the famous West Ham United; about a lady who danced in the ballroom with her fiancé - the ballroom parquet floor is still in the Post Office. We heard about the swimming pool and the Christmas Parties.
Many in our community had worn Bata Wayfinder shoes, designed for the Scouting movement, with animal paw prints on the sole and a compass in the heel.
Bata shoe shops can be found as far afield as Lima, Santiago, Prague, Singapore, Bangkok, Rouen and of course, Kolkata.
Thank you to the following people & organisations who helped create this scroll: