Bata Heritage Films

In the East Anglian Film Archive is a fascinating archive of Sir John Tusa’s films of Bata’s reach around the world. As a young journalist, Sir John toured some of these areas with his father.

Hi Ching has edited and added soundtracks to some of these silent 1950s films and brought them vividly to life. They have been divided into four regions – West Africa, West Indies, Sri Lanka and India.

Thurrock Film Festival 2021 is supported by the BFI Film Audience Network with National Lottery funding as part of Changing Times: New Directions.

British Bata Shoes executives tour the West Indies.

Shot by John Tusa, whose father was managing director of the British arm of the Bata Shoes company, this film records a trip undertaken by Bata executives to assess the company’s West Indies operation and their attendance at the official opening of a new factory in Kingston, Jamaica. Flying from England in a BOAC Boing 377, the group stop for re-fuelling on the island of Bermuda, before continuing on to Barbados, where they visit numerous Bata retail outlets, meet local employees and visit locations across Bridgetown. Another flight takes the group to Grenada, where they visit more stores, including an outlet on Gore Street in the capital St George’s. In Trinidad, the group visit industrial zones, passing the refineries of the Trinidad Oil Company and visit more retail stores in the capital, Port-of-Spain. Whilst in Trinidad, they also visit the Jinnah Memorial Mosque and the site of a Bata warehouse which is still under construction. Arriving in Jamaica, the group meet up with other Bata executives for a tour of the new factory in Kingston, before visiting stores across the country. Arriving back at the factory, they participate in the official opening ceremony, and visit more stores including one which bears the company’s slogan: “Bata: Worn the World Over”.

Featured Buildings

Bermuda Air Terminal (now L.F. Wade International Airport); Pearls Airport, Grenada; Jinnah Memorial Mosque, Trinidad

British Bata Shoes executives travel West Africa and attend the opening of a Nigerian factory.

Shot by John Tusa, whose father was managing director of the British arm of the Bata Shoes company, this film records a trip undertaken by John Tusa Senior and an associate to assess the company’s West African operations and attend the opening of a new factory in Apapa, Nigeria. From an African airport, the pair charter a light aircraft to a small airstrip. Driving through villages and jungle, the pair meet local residents and visit rubber plantations and a Bata Rubber Station in a large town. Traveling through the outskirts of Lagos, they pass factories and chemical plants, before arriving at the newly established Bata factory. The opening of the factory is attended by Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and other dignitaries, who hear a round of speeches before touring the factory. Here, Tusa shows much of the production process for shoes including plimsolls and jelly shoes, from machine rooms, production lines and mouldings, to quality control and packaging. Leaving the factory, the executives visit Bata Shoes outlets in cities and rural areas, and visit urban districts of Nigeria which are rapidly developing in anticipation of the country’s imminent independence from Britain. Leaving Nigeria, they head to the Ghanian capital of Accra, where they visit further Bata outlets and explore the city’s large commercial district. From there, a combination of charter planes and cars take them on a tour of other outlets and suppliers across West Africa.

Featured Buildings

Ambassador Hotel, Accra

HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW ABOUT BATA?

CAPTIVATING Q&A VIDEOS WITH LOCAL BATA HISTORIAN MIKE OSTLER

BRITISH BATA IN EAST TILBURY

Photos taken by Hi Ching with the kind permission of the Bata Heritage Centre

For more information, visit the Bata Heritage Centre.

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