Typewriters, Lenses and Webbing
Leicester’s reputation for making typewriters was mainly focussed on Imperial Typewriters although there were other typewriter companies earlier in the 20th century. In the early 1970s Imperial employed around 2,000 people at East Park Road (the building is still there). However, the company’s American owners closed it in 1975, after a strike notable for featuring Asian workers, and Imperial typewriters were manufactured abroad.
Click here to browse through news footage of the final days of the company, provided by MACE.
Taylor, Taylor, Hobson provided a touch of glamour to Leicester’s industry as their products were used in Hollywood! Lenses were made for radiography, television, cinema projectors, and optical instruments. Leicester’s post-war Industrial Handbook points out the contribution the company made to the war effort when 2,000 employees worked on nine sites. There are currently two offshoots from the company based in Thurmaston, Taylor Hobson and Cooke Optics.
Click here to visit the Taylor Hobson website.
Click here to visit the Cooke Optics website.
In the mid-19th century the manufacture of elastic webbing for boots, stockings, braces etc. was a very profitable business in Leicester. By the 1950s the industry was much smaller but still manufactured surgical and medical requisites, braces, belts and suspenders, elastic and elastic fabric. During the Second World War much of the output of the factories was devoted to making aircraft parts, such as braided rubber shock-absorbers and rings. The reason Luke Turner is remembered more than most is the listed building in Deacon Street that is an early example of iron-frame construction. Another firm, Archibald Taylor, had an unusual building by West Bridge but this has now been demolished.
Read about the history of Luke Turner & Co.
Click here to view an archive photograph of the Archibald Taylor factory that was located at West Bridge on King Richards Road, very near to the Holiday Inn.