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John Meads 2015
The Doom of the Crate
Shoe Firm Uses New Method

Loading crates at Whitney & Westley's Container loading at Euston
This photograph shows the traditional way of shipping goods from Whitney & Westley's
Finedon Street factory before the introduction of the railway container
This National Railway Museum photograph shows a L.M.S. container being
loaded on to a wagon at Euston goods yard

Although some might think of freight containers being a relatively new method of shipping goods from the manufacturers, this newspaper article demonstrates that the method was in use in the early 1930s

Northampton Mercury 13 November 1931

Boot and shoe manufacturers in the thriving township of Burton Latimer were greatly impressed this week over the arrival of an outward and visible sign of the railway's bid to outrival road transport.

This took the form of a kind of giant container mounted on a motor lorry. It drew up at the well-known factory belonging to Messrs. Whitney and Westley Ltd., and its use was soon apparent.

For years untold, boot manufacturers in sending their goods in bulk to large centres have had to first place the various grades of footwear, pair by pair, in cardboard boxes; these have then to be parcelled up and packed in large wooden crates. The railway drays collected the crates and they were taken by rail to their destination. On arrival there the consignee had to break open the crate s and unpack the cardboard boxes.


The modern method is for the giant container to visit the factory, the boxes of boots and shoes are placed into it; the container is returned to the railway station and is hoisted on to a wagon, and when it has made its journey by rail and been delivered to the consignee, all he has to do is to unpack the boxes from it. This system entirely does away with the necessity for crates.

"There is a great saving in freightage as well as in crates and time," a Chronical & Echo reporter was informed in an interview with Mr. Oliver Tailby, the able manager of Messrs. Whitney and Westley's. "On Monday we sent 1,000 pairs of boots and shoes to Bristol by this means. We simply had to dump the cardboard boxes with their contents into the container, and we were finished with them.

Incidentally, the operatives at Messrs. Whitney and Westley's works are extremely busy, and, indeed, are on overtime. This happy state of affairs is expected to continue right up to Christmas. The factory is being enlarged in order that the firm's machinery may be used to to better advantage.

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