Since I was due to attend a meeting in Thurrock, I thought I would get a sense of the area and visit Bata-ville, the early modernist development in East Tilbury, which was laid out in green fields east of Tilbury in 1932. The local vicar invited Tomas Bata to set up a shoe factory in order to provide employment during the recession. Bata employed the Czech architects Vladimir Karfik and Frantizek Gahura to draw up a masterplan for a company town complete with parks, factories and dormitories for the single workers. There is a heroic statue of Tomas Bata who was killed in an air crash in 1933:-
Otherwise, it’s a touch desolate, many of the factories now deserted and the company town less well kept now that the company is no longer organising gardening competitions:-
6 thoughts on “Bata-ville”
methinx you might also mention the excellent John Tusa, whose Czech exile dad ran the place? x e
Yes, indeed. His father, Jan Tůša, flew out of Czechoslovakia in a company aeroplane in 1939 and they lived in Horndon-on-the-Hill.
What an incredible place! and how unexpected to find these wonderful industrial buildings in a quiet corner of Essex… (if only they were in an undiscovered corner of Shoreditch…)
They’re pretty amazing even if in Essex ! Charles
The artist duo Somewhere, responsible for the fantastic Abbey Gardens community garden in Stratford, did a project about Bataville back in 2005. They took some of the former UK Bata workers on a coach trip to Zlin, the Bata HQ in the Czech Republic and made a film about it. The link is here: http://www.somewhere.org.uk/films/bata-ville/
One of the posters Somewhere made for the Bataville project is on the wall of the cafe in the High House Production Park in Thurrock. Or at least it was when my daughter and I went to a Royal Opera House Inspiration Day at the Backstage Arts production facility of ROH last year. Now that’s a place I’d recommend a visit to for anyone – there are regular tours.
Yes, I was en route to Thurrock (but not a direct route). Charles