Lotus Ltd


Photograph of Lotus factory

Lotus Ltd factory, Stafford, about 1925 (Staffordshire Arts & Museum Service / Aerofilms Ltd)


Photograph of Lotus factory

Closing Room, Lotus Ltd., Stafford, 1928 (Staffordshire Arts & Museum Service)


Photograph of Lotus ‘25’ Club members

Godfrey and James Bostock with Lotus ‘25’ Club members, Lotus Ltd., Stone, 1960 (Courtesy Jose Harvey)


Lotus logo

Lotus logo


Portriat of Thomas Bostock (1777-1865)

Thomas Bostock (1777-1865) (Staffordshire Arts & Museum Service)


Lotus catalogue, 1928

Lotus Ltd catalogue, 1928


For most of its life, Lotus Ltd was the biggest shoe manufacturer in Stafford and Stone. The closure of the Stafford factory in late 1998 effectively ended the area’s long history of shoemaking.

The company’s origins lie with Thomas Bostock (1777-1865), who moved to Stafford from Derbyshire in 1814, and began to make boots and shoes in Gaolgate. By 1833 his son Edwin Bostock (1807-1883) was a partner, and the firm, now the largest in Stafford and employing about 200 men, women and children, moved into Greengate Street. By 1850 Edwin had taken over and a new factory was built in Foregate Street.

Edwin Bostock was instrumental in introducing the sewing machine in 1855; the first stage of mechanisation of the shoemaking process which ultimately lead to the factory system being introduced to Stafford and Stone. A mass protest by workers from all Stafford’s manufacturers took place in Market Square, forcing the owners to remove the machines. Similar unrest took place in Stone. However, machines were permanently re-introduced in July 1859, following the collapse of an all-out strike. By 1862 there were 300 to 400 sewing machines in Stafford factories.

Edwin’s brother Thomas (1816-1871) set up a factory in High Street, Stone by 1842, and when he died in 1871 Edwin took control of his factory. Later in the 19th century, a larger factory was built on Cross Street. In 1950 a modern factory was built facing Longton Road adjoining the old Cross Street factory. Meanwhile a third Bostock brother, Frederick (1812-1890), set up a factory in Northampton in 1835).

The firm became a limited liability company, Edwin Bostock & Co Ltd, in 1898. In 1901 the Foregate Street factory burnt down, and a new factory was built on Sandon Road and opened in 1903. This factory used the latest technology, equipment and layout with the advice of J.J. Heys, a Walsall man who had lived in Stafford before becoming the manager of an American shoe machinery company.

In 1919 Edwin Bostock & Co Ltd and Frederick Bostock Ltd of Northampton amalgamated to become Lotus Ltd, using a brand name they had been using for some time. Lotus Ltd thrived and grew during the 20th century, gaining a reputation for producing women’s shoes of the highest quality. Their goods were nationally marketed and benefited from economies in large-scale production.

Lotus made its own lasts, heels, boxes and packing cases. It operated a garage and a fleet of vehicles. For its employees, Lotus provided canteens, social and sporting facilities. A billiard hall opened in 1922 and a stage was built in Brook House for the Dramatic Society and Operatic Society. Lotus had its own Fire Brigade, and also its own Girl guides group for the daughters of company workers. The Lotus Association organised annual trips to Blackpool, Rhyl and Llandudno, and occasionally to Ireland and Belgium. Lotus Ltd had a reputation as a good employer and the factory as a good place to work.

Lotus Ltd acquired its first shops in 1926, exclusively selling Lotus and Delta brand shoes. The Lotus brand was named after the Lotus flower, a large white water lily of the Nile delta of legendary beauty and perfection.

After the Second World War, Lotus Ltd continued to thrive, and employed 2,117 people in Stafford in 1950.

After the closure of C.H. Riley & Son’s Footglove factory in 1957, Lotus Ltd became the only shoe manufacturer in Stafford and Stone. The Bostock family retained control of the company until 1970, when James Bostock (1902-1996) retired, and shortly afterwards it was taken over by Argo Caribbean. Debenhams acquired it in 1973, but shortly after in 1975 the Stone factory on Cross Street and Longton Road closed and the buildings were taken over by G.E.C.

Lotus Ltd was still employing 1,000 people in Stafford during he 1970s, but faced with increasingly competitive prices from overseas manufacturers, and the trend towards shoes becoming more disposable, the company was in steady decline. The export trade to the Soviet Union and eastern Europe and a series of contracts with Marks & Spencer helped the factory survive into the 1990s.

The Fii Group purchased the company in 1986. In 1996 the greater part of footwear manufacture was transferred from Stafford to Bridgend in South Wales in 1996, and the main Sandon Road Lotus factory was demolished in 1997. A small workforce continued in a newer building on the Sandon Road site until the end of 1998 when the remainder of the operation was transferred to Bridgend and the last 130 workers were made redundant.

This entry was posted in Boot & shoe making companies, Bostock, Lotus, Stafford, Stone, Strike, Working life. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Lotus Ltd

  1. eunice wilson says:

    I was a designer at Lotus, Sandon Road and Stone during WW2. I knew Annabel Bostock and her sister well, would like to contact her if possible, to exchange memories. I worked for James Bostock, and at I lived at Walton on the hill, south of Stafford.At Stone for Roland Rooker, at the latter knew Hilda Bailey and her father who was chief pattern cutter, and Tom Brandon and Jack Brittain.
    Anyone remember these and can send news? Eunice Wilson

    • Clive Carthy says:

      I left the Design Office at Lotus Stafford in 1969 and went to Edge Shoes Bilston where Roland Rooker was the M D until his retirement, he also had a seperate business importing shoes. Jack Brittain was also there but I did not know him to speak to. The factory site is now a housing estate.

      • Marion Maybank says:

        Hi Clive,

        Were you involved in the design of the Lotus ‘Minerva’ Range/shoe in white leather 1950’s or 60’s steel capped heel. I have a pair in size 4 almost perfect condition and would like to find out more about them for family reasons. Many Thanks Marion

    • William de Kock says:

      Dear Eunice. I read your note, did you get into contact with Annabel Bostock? Regards William

    • Robert Sharman says:

      I am the son of Richard Edward “Teddy” Sharman, who was the son of Thomas Edward Sharman, chief designer at Lotus Northampton until his sudden death in May 1937. Ted went to South Africa in 1936 to take up an appointment as GM of the Port Elizabeth Boot & Shoe Company. Do you remember either of them? If so, I’d like to meet you during my forthcoming trip to the UK in September.

  2. My father was Richard S Jackson . I understand he worked for Lotus and died aged 36. I was the two years old and know nothing about him. I now have a 7 year old son who asks me about my father. I would be pleased to hear from anyone who knew him and can tell me anything at all. Nick Jackson

  3. Len Cartwright says:

    Is there any recolection/record of a Constance Cartwright who worked in the offices of Lotus on the Sandon Road site,
    and also her Father Albert Henry Cartwright of Alliance Street,who was in union,and travelled and
    married Anne Gough whist woring in Liecester before returning to Lotus.

  4. Len Cartwright says:

    My aunt was Constance Cartwright who worked in the offices of Lotus Sandon Road, her father was Albert Henry Cartwright involved in the Boot and Shoe union. He married Anne Gough in Leicester before returning to be based in Alliance Street and working also at Lotus shoes. If anyone has any information or knowledge of my relatives I would be pleased to hear from you. Len Cartwright

    • Jan Keenan says:

      Hello Len,

      Constance Cartwright was my great aunt. Her sister Ida was my granny, and my mum is her daughter Brenda. She had two brothers, Peter and Paul, both of who died some years ago. My Mum’s nearly 83, and not in the best of health, but she has very fond memories of her aunts Con.

      Regards

      Jan Keenan

  5. William de Kock says:

    I found the histroy of the Bostock family very interesting. I live in Australia and recently purchased a clock that was given as a gift by Edwin Bostock & Co Ltd to Frederick M. Bostock on his marriage on 4 June 1901

  6. Michael Miller says:

    My first job was with Lotus & Delta as a junior salesman in the shop-in-shop in Patrick Thomson’s in Edinburgh. This would be in 1957 or thereabouts. I was transferred to the Newcastle shop in Northumberland Street before going to work in Stafford at Head Office. This was the start of retail stock control using punch cards. I later went back to Scotland to the Buchanan Street shop in Glasgow, before being appointed as Manager in Skipton. I left Lotus in 1962 to pursue my career elsewhere. Funnily enough, many many years later I want to work for Scholl (Retail) UK and was based in the old Bective factory in Northanmpton!

  7. Michael Miller says:

    I omitted to mention that my French wife also worked for Lotus. Just after we were married in 1967, she found a job in the Bond Street shop, working under the direction of Annabel Bostock!

  8. Valma Carter says:

    On doing research on Bostock Polishes Limited a New Zealand company formed in about 1926 – 30’s until 1961, The name also could be Bostock Polishes (NZ) Limited or Bostock’s Polishes Limited.

    This company was owned by my father who died in 1961 and we are looking for information regarding the formation of the New Zealand business. It was set up for manufacturing of shoe cleaners, creams, suade cleaners etc.

    Any information you may have would be appreciated.

    Many thanks

  9. I remember doing some work on behalf of contractors in the 1980s at the Lotus factory. I sensed back then the company was heading for closure due to international cheap labour competition.

  10. shirleyanneBritton says:

    I am the niece of Jack(John)Britton , who ran Stone LOTUS .My father was Henry Britton who also worked for the Bostocks in Stafford he married my mother Norah Brough in NewZealand where he had gone to work after leaving Lotus , mother is now 84 years old my father passed away in 2002 they both spoke fondly of working for LOTUS my mother worked in the display department. Mum worked for Tom Brandon. she thought Eunice was lovely . Dad was Sliplast manager before leaving to go to NZ .my grand father William Britton managed Lotus shops …

  11. Michael says:

    My great aunt worked for Lotus and Delta in Southport on Lord Street. Can anyone give me the location of that shop. What is it now?

    Regards.

  12. Jennier says:

    Going through my late Mums papers I have found letters between her and Lotus dating 1959/61 and would like to send these to the Lotus group for their archives.Anyone have a name/address I can send them to. Mum at that time was Mangeress of Rothburys, Bromley,Kent

    • Sarah says:

      Stafford Record Office have all the papers for Lotus Shoes now it has closed down.

      I would be interested to see if anyone knew my Grandmother Dorothy James she worked at Lotus 1940-1950

  13. Rita Bray says:

    My first job in 1956 was in the Counting House at Lotus Shoes, Sandon Road, Stafford.
    Mr Lawton and Mr Pedlar were my seniors…..does anyone know anything about either of these gentlemen?

  14. Jane Tomlinson says:

    I worked as a Trainee Designer at Lotus and started work in 1979 I think. It was a great first job and I remember having to take my samples round the factory floor, often quite an ordeal at times particularly because of the teasing along the way.
    A lady called Coral Ray was our shoe model. She worked on the shop floor but had a perfect size 4 foot and was called up to the Design Room regularly to try on the new designs.

  15. john leese says:

    my mum joan degg worked at lotus stone in the 1950’s.she met my dad norman leese,they married in 1959.

  16. Ann Burgess says:

    As a child I was fascinated by shoes and loved visiting the Lotus factory shop to buy new shoes several times a year in the 1960s. A neighbour of ours in Meir worked there – Mary Lavander.

  17. David Wilson says:

    Does anyone know the origin of the treadle operated finishers, such as the one in the Staffordshire Museum http://www.search.staffspasttrack.org.uk/engine/resource/default.asp?resource=12646
    I have smaller one and would love to know more about it? Looks like it was made in the 1920’s as it has real industrial Art Deco charm.

  18. Denise says:

    Hi All, My fondest memories are for working for Lotus Shoes, I ran the shoe department at Debenhams Birmingham in the early 1990’s and remember Mr Cairns
    in head office and the Lady who worked at the Shoe shop in Stafford who always won the Lotus competitions. It was a great company to work for. I remember head office managers used to come out on sale days and help in the shops and stores great fun.
    I think that great companies like Lotus will never ever be replaced.
    Good Days.

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