Recently the Hadleigh and Southend Group had a trip to East Tilbury for a tour of the Bata Heritage Centre.
Tomas Bata started making shoes at the age of 6 in Moravia with his shoe maker father. He went on to form the Bata Organisation in 1894 and the British Bata Shoe Factory early in the 20th Century.
He bought a farm in East Tilbury in 1932 and planned an industrial estate. However, months later Tomas was killed when his own private plane crashed.
His son, Jan Bata, took over and Tomas’ plans for the factory continued.
At that time East Tilbury had high unemployment and the Bata factory provided not only much needed jobs but housing, a school, shop, canteen, swimming pool, ballroom, cinema, health centre and their own fire brigade. In addition to many social activities.
After producing shoes for over 70 years the factory closed in 2005 but the community continues. It proved to be a most interesting and informative tour.