Mr.Joseph Westley, who with the late Mr.Harry Whitney founded the Burton Latimer boot and shoe manufacturing firm of Whitney and Westley, Ltd. sixty years ago, has died, it was announced last night. He died at his home at 18 Victoria Street, Burton Latimer on Sunday, aged 91.
The story of the founding of his firm is a romantic one. Mr. Westley, started work as a boy of 10, helping to make shoes for a Higham Ferrers firm. Then he went to work at Saddington and Robinson’s in Workhouse Lane, Kettering, and used to walk to work with Mr. Whitney, who was at Loake Brothers. As they walked they talked of a business they intended to found. By New Year’s Day 1896 they had saved enough capital to make a start. The two young men they were both 29 at the time agreed to start with the intention of retiring at 50 if they were in a position to do so. They both managed it.
Whitney and Westley’s first factory was an empty cottage. The rent was 1s 6d a week. Most of the work was outwork, and the production gradually rose to 400-500 pairs a week. After a loss of £37 in the first six months, they recovered and made a profit of £25 in the first year. After 18 months they bought land opposite the cottage and there the factory was built. During their partnership they also founded the Standard Boot Co. at Burton in which Mr. J W. Coles was their partner. It has since become the Coles Boot Co.
Throughout his life, Mr Westley was a keen sportsman. In his younger days he played football for Kettering Town at right-back. He played cricket too and was Burton Latimer’s wicketkeeper for many years. His friends say that as an opening batsman he broke many a bowler’s heart. When he became too old to play, he rarely missed watching home county cricket matches and was a regular attender at the County Ground up to his 88th year. He ice-skated until he was 77 and had to have his skates taken away from him before he would stop.
Mr Westley leaves a son, Mr. Frank R Westley, who recently retired as managing director of the firm; three daughters - Mrs. Nan Surridge (Stamford), Mrs Mildred Barlow (Kettering), Mrs Doris Marriott (Kettering); a grandson, Mr. Angus Westley, present managing director of the firm and a granddaughter, Mrs Janet Barlow (Barton Seagrave).
The funeral is at Kettering Crematorium tomorrow morning.
|To read the contents of Joseph Westley's will, click here.