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The Rushden Echo, 3rd August 1962, transcribed by Jim Hollis
John White - Retirement
An exclusive interview with Mr. John White

Mr. John White, 77-year-old founder of the John White Footwear Organisation, has “definitely retired from business.” In an exclusive interview this week he added: “I have many things to live for.”

It was in the quiet of Mr. White’s home at Ferrers Mere, Rushden, that he spoke to me, writes ALAN THOMPSON, first about the present and then about the future.

There has been a fair amount of speculation (and anxiety) on what his intentions are, especially since his illness and admittance to a Northampton nursing home.

‘Earned A Rest’

John aged 77
Mr. White said: “I have had 65 years of work, 43 of them as my own master, and I think I have earned a rest. Now, I am going to concentrate on my farm, gardening and motoring.

Then he glanced at shelf upon shelf of books, and added: “I am a big reader, too.”

I thought that Mr. White looked much better than I have seen him of late and, as if reading my thoughts, he said: “I am much better today than I have been all along. I have been told I have a complaint which results from anxiety and stress.”

He said he was confident he would soon be fully restored to health, and only that morning he expected to be told by his specialist that there was no need to see him again.

In September, he went on, he and his wife wanted to go for a holiday in Devon. In spring next year they would probably go on a world cruise.

No Business Post

To what extent are business interests ended?

Mr. White answered: “I shall not be taking any business post, not of any kind whatsoever. I could, if I wanted, embark on a full business life again. I have had many offers from people, and I could have started again on my own.”

The very week he announced his intentions to resign all his offices and directorships in the John White Organisation he had received an offer from “a very important personage” in Ireland.

This man wanted Mr. White, who would not have been required to take any active part in the firm, to act as a consultant in the export trade, particularly for exports to America.

Mr. White had not given an answer yet, but he told me quite firmly “I shall turn it down.”

Many similar offers have been received, each organisation wanting Mr. White on their side for the talents which he believed he possessed.

‘Everyday Interest’

He confessed to have made “one or two inquiries” into certain businesses, but he had since decided not to take them up.

“I don’t want to do anything to harm in competition the great firm I have built,” he said.

Mr. White told me about his “greatest everyday interest at home” – his farm, which lies to the rear of his house.

He has a hundred acres, forty of them arable on which are grown potatoes, barley and winter greens, some of these greens find their way into the John White employees’ canteen.

He has 70 head of cattle, which he intends to add to tremendously. He said that previously he has only toyed with the herd.

His ‘Thank You’

Farm, garden, travel and reading, it seems that Mr. White, who is a young 77, is going to be very busy. He said, in fact, “I have many things to live for.”

Our conversation ended when Mr. White asked me to wish all boot and shoe workers in the area, particularly his former employees, a safe and pleasant holiday.

He also asked me to thank the hundreds of people who have constantly wished him well, and said he would like to express a deep and sincere “thank you” to employees who had given him many years of happy service.

Letter to his employees
30th March 1962:

To my loyal and good friends of John White Footwear I send this message.   

Most of you will know that at the end of this week, after 43 years, I relinquish my post as Managing Director of the Company, not from choice, as I am sure you are aware.

Permission to vote having been refused to my wife put me in a minority on the Board of this great Company which I have created. In these circumstances I had no option but to resign my position, since Mrs White, as everyone knows, was a co-founder of the business and has been a co-partner through all the years, with a special interest in the women's department.

In taking leave of you I do want to thank each and every one of you for your co-operation during my long term of office. Right through this period I have been able to provide full employment for my employees, with good wages, security and pleasant working conditions. There has been a most happy relationship amounting not only to mutual respect, but to a deep and abiding affection. Many of you have been with me throughout the whole of my business life, and I would like to conclude this little note by again thanking you for your support through all these years and with my sincere wishes for your future happiness and well-being. Yours very sincerely


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