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Article compiled from material currently held at the museum.

Buckby Brothers

William Henry Buckby, photographed in about 1933. Arthur Buckby, photographed in about 1933. Herbert Buckby, photographed in about 1933.
Buckby Brothers Partners photographed c1933 - left to right: William Henry, Arthur and Herbert (William's son).

Photograph taken in the early 1900s of three lady workers outside the factory.
Workers in the early 1900s

According to the 1901 census Samuel Buckby was an "Army Shoemaker working at home." His sons had all followed him into the shoe trade - James, Herbert Allen, William Henry, Arthur, Jesse and David Allen - but it seems that only Herbert was engaged in Samuel's own shoe making business based at their home in Finedon Street. However humble that beginning was, a large leap was made two years later when the Buckby Brothers formed their own company and built a shoe factory opposite The Waggon & Horses in a lane off the Kettering Road, naming it "The Alexandra Works." By 1905 Herbert had left the company and David Allen had died at the early age of 20. James retired in 1926 (by which time Jesse had already left), and so William Henry and Arthur remained in charge. Evidence also suggests that by the early 1930s William Henry's son, Herbert Allen, had assumed a senior position in the firm, as he is pictured in his own office in the same way as his father and uncle.

The photograph on the left, taken in the early 1900s, shows three adult female factory workers; however a number of younger people under the age of sixteen were also employed - click here to read an article in The Daily Telegraph about this. The workers were also not afraid to strike if necessary, as an article from the Wellingborough News shows.

In 1911 the works was turning out 1,500 pairs of shoes per week, and by 1923 this figure had doubled, making its output second only to that of Whitney & Westley. During the Second World War years it was in the Whitney & Westley Works that Buckby Brothers maintained a presence (together with the Ministry of Aircraft Production) presumably for the purpose of fulfilling a joint contract with the MOD. By the early1950s Buckbys had acquired the premises formerly owned by Ideal Clothiers and were using it as their shoe warehouse. Goods were being exported to many parts of the world on a monthly basis.

Sometime in the 1950s Buckby Brothers themselves became part of The Coles Group and the factory took the name of E K Coles. By the early 1960s large scale manufacturing had largely ceased and The Alexandra Works was used by the Group for its wholesale distribution process. The premises was subsequently taken over by Alumasc and then by I M Kelly (manufacturer of leather fascias for cars) before finally being demolished in 2010 to make way for housing development.

The pictures shown below are taken from a booklet produced by the firm in about 1933 to celebrate 20 years of manufacturing. They provide us with an interesting insight into the conditions and manufacturing techniques inside the factory at the time. The departments are presented in order of manufacturing (for more information on this process please click here).Unfortunately, very few of the operatives' names are known - can you help?

Photograph of operatives in the Clicking Department.
Sadly, we have no names for these operators - can you help?

Photograph of operatives in theClosing Department.
1 Maggie Lowe (later Howe) 2 Nellie Tyrell (later Ellson) 3 Lillian Knight (later Loake) 4 Phyllis Harper 5 Beat Groom
6 Mrs Cheney 7 Alice Reynolds 8 Mabel King 9 Violet Groom 10 Mrs Ambler 11 Mrs Chester 12 Liz Groom 13 Clara Lovell

Photograph of operatives in the Lasting Department.
Sadly, we have no names for these operators - can you help?

Photograph of operatives in the Making Department.
To the left, with his hand on his hip, is John (Jack) Craddock Senior; standing right of him is Billy Perkins.

Photograph of operatives in the Skiving Department.
The second man on the left-hand bench is Walter Neville; the nearest man on the middle bench is George Mills.

Photograph of operatives in the Finishing Department.
Standing in the left foreground with boot is Walt Hull; behind him is John Conquest.On the left between the two shoe racks is
Bill Fennell.Bill Potter is in the centre wearing a white overall, and behind him to the right wearing braces is George Grainger.
Reg Baish is the gentleman in the foreground wearing a cap.

Shoe Room
Photograph of operatives in the Shoe Room.
The lady on the extreme left is Liz Scott; next to her is Nellie Tyrell (later Ellson).
Ann Bunyan (later Evans) is the lady in the middle with the striped jacket, and Fred Scott is the gentleman right of her.

Bottom Stock
Photograph of operatives in the Bottom Stock.
Standing on the exreme left is George Hull. The lady seated in the middle of the picture is Phyll Craddock (later Eady).
The gentleman near the back wearing a black overall is Arthur Buckby. No other names known.

Office Staff
Photograph of the Buckby Brothers Office Staff.
Left-right: Arthur Buckby, Edna Wilson, Herbert Buckby, Frank Ash, Edith Buckby, William Henry Buckby, Mabel Buckby.

In the above photograph Herbert Buckby (William Henry's son and third from left) appears as a junior member of the staff; some time later he gained a more senior position and was provided with his own office. To see William Henry, Arthur and Herbert in their individual offices, click on each of their names.

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