There were 30 students in the college. The company took in 10 students per year for a three year course. This meant that each year ten students completed and were available to work anywhere in the world.
I joined the College as a sixteen year old on 30th August 1953 from school at Leamington College in Warwickshire.
An agreement was signed by myself and my father and Mr Tusa for me to attend the College for a Three Year Course of Training with a further two years thereafter.
The students were called at 6.15a.m. every morning to get ready for breakfast in the Bata Hotel on the first floor. It was then necessary to be at your place of work at 7.30a.m. Going into the factory you had to clock in and as the time got nearer 7.30a.m., clocking in gates were closed. If you were late, entry was than via the Personnel Department where they pulled out you personnel record and made a note of the lateness. This was a fairly rare occurrence because the conveyor belts started up at 7.30a.m. on the factory floor so if all workers were not there ready this gave the Foreman a major headache.
As a student we could specialize in Leather Shoe manufacture, Rubber Footwear manufacture or Engineering. I chose Leather shoe manufacture and was provided with a Training book which listed all the manufacturing operations I was to perform over a two year period. (The Third Year you specialized in one particular aspect, I did Men’s Goodyear welted construction).
Each week three days were spent in the Factory and two days at the Cordwainers College Hackney learning Technical and Managerial aspects. The Rubber students went to the Rubber College in London. This meant a fairly early start travelling to Barking and getting the Tube to Bethnel Green and a Bus to Mile End during the rush hour. If you had an evening class, which finished at 9p.m. then you did not need to go into the Factory until 10.00 then next day.
Time was spent occasionally at the weekends working in the Bata Shops. If you chose a London branch then you had your fare paid to London and could spend Saturday evening there.
The times spent in each department were:-
Bottom Cutting 35 days
Bottom Pressing 40 days
Clicking 30 days
Closing 60 days
Lasting 40 days
Stitching 35 days
Finishing 40 days
As Foreman 20 days
At the end of each year I had to make a pair of shoes from the basic material. Cut, Close, Last, Stitch, Finish etc. For the 3rd year of training I spent 6 months in the closing room (which gave me sewing skills for the rest of my life) and 6 months on the Goodyear Welted Conveyor.
With £1 per week to spend sport played a large part of college life. There were teams for Tennis, Cricket, Football, Hockey, Chess competitions, Snooker and Darts.
On the first floor of the college there was a Games room with a half size snooker table, Darts, Chess and a gramophone.
In 1954 Khalid Hasan, a Pakistan test Cricketer, joined the college. He had been on tour with the Pakistani Test Team and stayed on for the course with a view to working at the Lahore factory. At the time he was the youngest Test Cricketer ever, 16 years 356 days, at Trent Bridge and bowled Denis Compton when he was on 178. This strengthened the College team to the extent that we won the Company Inter Departmental Knock Out Competition.
The Bata Cricket Team also had three Pakistan Eaglets in their ranks, Sam Karangia, Riaz Alvi and Rifat Ali. In 1956 I went on a Cricket Tour to Devon with Khalid Hassan and Sam Karagia in the Team, we were based at Crewkerne and played at Honiton, Dorchester, Yeovil and against the Royal Marines.
As I was interested in cycling, I took three other students (Bernard Ringshaw, Derek Nichols and Russuell Burrows) to Belgium and Holland staying at Youth Hostels and visiting the Dutch Bata Best Factory near Eindhoven. The Factory was built to the same specifications as the one at East Tilbury, as were most of the Factories built around the world.
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