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From a Souvenir Booklet, 1950
John Cave & Sons - Centenary

John Cave & Sons Ltd

Commonwealth  Works - Rushden - England

London   Office:   Craven    House,   Kingsway,   W.C 1

Cable Address: "Cavette" Rushden  England

We gratefully acknowledge the courtesy and service extended to us over the course of the century by:  Messrs. Hopps & Bankart our Accountants, Lloyds Bank Ltd., The Caledonian Insurance Co., and our numerous Suppliers. We present our compliments and sincere thanks to our Customers Overseas and at Home, to Mr. Eric Ager for photographs, and to the producers of this Souvenir, Messrs. Hoare & Cole Ltd.

       Brief History  1850-1950

The founder of the firm, Mr. John Cave, was born April 21st, 1820. Rushden was but a straggling village with only a few hundred inhabitants but it is more than likely that footwear was being manufactured in those early days.

It is on record that a William Sherwood was a Boot Manufacturer of Seamens Boots early in the 19th Century, journeying to Southampton by coach to sell his products.

It was in this apparently well-established business that the late Mr. John Cave became associated with the trade, and his then weekly wage being one shilling.

Mr. Cave commenced manufacturing in a yard off the Bedford Road, in an old stone building, a Mr. Daniel Sharp travelling to London by coach to secure orders on the basis of 2 per cent, commission.

Larger premises but similar in construction off the High Street South, adjacent to the Hall Grounds was the first move, and as the business grew, still larger premises were secured after a while in the High Street, where now is the Palace Picture House.

Early in March, 1877, a fire occurred on the premises and the alarm was given about midnight (the church bell was the means used of calling the Fire Brigade). A few days later one of the sons, Mr. Elias Cave, aged 22, was walking through the ruins when he was crushed by a falling wall. The exact date of his tragic death was April 11th.

This photograph shows the factory with shops fronting the High Street, in about 1899.
The High Street premises were added to from time to time and the four remaining sons, Mr. Paul Cave (died 1908), Mr. Amos Cave (died 1923), Mr. Arthur Cave (1927), and Mr. Fred Cave (1928) all took a leading part in the expansion of the business.

Export trade early claimed the attention of the firm and an ever-increasing overseas business was done.

Alas! On July J9th, 1901, a disastrous fire broke out during the dinner hour of a very hot summer day. So quickly did the fire spread that the whole up-to-date and commodious factory was gutted.

The present factory was built on the most modern lines to replace the old one, and it says much for the foresight of the members of the firm and the builders that only very minor alterations have been necessary through the years.

The Founder of the Firm passed away on January 5th, 1904, having reached the ripe old age of 83, his wife having predeceased him by seven years.

Under the present regime the firm continues to make progress, the long association of the Managing Director—1900 to 1950—ensuring continuity of interest and production. During the 1939-45 War the firm made over three-quarters of a million Service Footwear of twenty different types.

During the last few years the Social and Welfare side of the business has been cultivated. Sports Ground adjacent to the factory has been fully laid out and a Works Council is in being.

This early picture is taken outside the new factory in College Street, on a wet day.
It shows four drays from Midland Railway Company with a very large order to/from Ellet Kexhall? Shoe Co., Kanzas City USA.
This picture c1916 is not from the Centenary Booklet. Our thanks to the owner, who has allowed us to copy it.

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