Hell for leather: Pocock Brothers

Pocock Brothers was the largest boot manufacturer in the world.

Thomas Pocock (1791 – 1879) was born in Shoreditch, London. He entered into business as a boot manufacturer and leather merchant from 1815.

Pocock was soon assisted by his three sons, Thomas Gotch Pocock (1815 – 1883), Alfred Pocock (1822 – 1887) and Ebenezer Pocock (1824 – 1902).

By 1855 the sons had taken over management of the business, and began to trade as Pocock Brothers. A boot factory was established at 20-23 Southwark Bridge Road, London.

A workforce of 400 to 500 was employed by 1871.

T G Pocock was a model employer, guided by his Christian faith. He provided a pension scheme for elderly and infirm employees and was well-regarded by his workforce.

Pocock Brothers also produced padded cells for “lunatic asylums” by 1886.

Pocock Brothers advertised itself as the largest boot manufacturer in the world in 1888.

Ebenezer Pocock retired in 1889 to leave three brothers, Thomas Pocock (1844 – 1891), George Pocock (born 1853) and Percy Rogers Pocock (1857 – 1934) to manage the business.

Pocock Brothers employed well over 1,000 men and women by 1891, and along with Rabbits & Co, was the largest shoe manufacturer in London.

Pocock Brothers held contracts to supply boots to the Army and the Metropolitan Police in the 1890s.

The retail operations were sold to Freeman Hardy & Willis in 1910, but the boot manufacturing operations continued.

300 people were employed in 1914.

The business was registered as a limited company, Pocock Brothers Ltd, from 1927.

By 1988 the business was based at 235 Southwark Bridge Road and was a leading supplier to the shoe repair trade.

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