Club Timeline

Brief History of Shoe and Boot making

The established industries in Kingswood in the 19th Century and late 1870s were dominated by farming and coal mining. These heavy industries demanded hard-wearing footwear. Initially, boot and shoe-making was a cottage industry.

Reverend H.T. Ellacombe is mentioned in the history of Bitton. Published in the 19th century.

“The colliers finished at 1 pm and after washing in hot water, continued working as gardeners, tailors, and Shoemakers".

With the advent of the factory system in Kingswood, in the 19th Century outworking played an essential role in the shoemaking industry, some parts of the process were ideal as parts of the shoe or boot, could be manufactured at home on a bench this was called Snobbing- This was the definition in the dictionary, it was a shoemaker or shoemakers apprentice.

The Boot and Shoe manufacturing industry flourished in the second part of the 19th century around 1850.

In 1891, Ten firms were established in and around the Kingswood Area.

Kingswood goods were cheaper to manufacture because of the practice of outworking. Many firms in Northampton, Leicester, and Leeds went into decline as production in the factories was more expensive.

In 1922, eighty manufacturers of heavy industrial boots were in business, decline, was just around the corner, as the farming and coal mining output decreased. Ireland also introduced an import tax on goods coming from the mainland, the lack of capital investment, and the demand for lighter footwear.

In the 1950's more and more work was taken over by G.B. Britton as the smaller firms could not compete, G.B. Britton was able to install machinery in the factory, also revenue streams came from government sources during the Great War and the 2nd World war when demand for boots for the troops was very high. G.B. Britton had the means to scale up and produce the product quickly and in quantity.

Bryant and Britton were founded in 1875, in the 1950's they introduced a vulcanized rubber sole, that was lightweight and strong, this was vulcanized to the upper leather part of the boot or shoes. Sadly, the firms that could not gear up and develop this process, went into decline and out of business.

The factory was in Lodge road Kingswood, the company created a bowls green for the workers on the site where the factory was. This factory was demolished, and houses were built on the site. The Bowls green 1965 moved to its current site in Ingleside Rd Kingwood, a wooden clubhouse was built as well on the edge of the green.

Extracts from 1919 - 2019 G.B. Britton Bowls Club Centenary Book

Written By Tim Hughes a member of the Club for many years and is still an active bowler with the club.

Terry Lewis an active member is still with the club, he was an employee at the G.B.Britton Shoe factory.


The founder George Bryant Britton

Hence G.B. Britton Bowls Club

G.B. Britton Bowls Club was formed after the troops returned to work following the great war. The company wanted to create a bowls club to try and rehabilitate the men, give them a new
focus, and also alleviate the memory of the horrors of the war and what happened on the battlefields and trenches.

G.B. Britton manufactured service boots for the government
departments that the troops wore in the Great War and 50% of the stock for the second world war, also the Falklands, boots worn by the troops were produced at the G.B. Britton factory. 50% of the floor space was commandeered by the ministry of aircraft production for the repair of damaged wings of the Beaufighter Aircraft.

The first factory was on Waters Rd Kingswood later the factory moved to Lodge Rd in Kingswood, and there was a large open space at the site. Mainly it was the Chequers pub playing fields this space was purchased in 1918 but laid unused for many years and in 1940 the whole space was allocated to allotments and gardens. In 1947 a canteen was built for the factory workers this was to become a sports and leisure club and other social activities.

It was not long after that the sports field was restored and bowls, cricket, football, lawn tennis, netball, table tennis, and skittles. The social club was mainly used for dancing and social gatherings.

The image shows members of the first GB Britton bowls club team.
The original green only had 4 Rinks.

Mr. Jack Britton Rolled the first bowl on the new green in the opening game

The image shows the players in front of the "hut" as it was known.

This image shows the first Pavilion at the GB Britton Bowls Club

The next development was a new pavilion and when plans were approved for a more permanent clubhouse all the materials were recycled when this building was demolished this made way for the current building as we see it today

G.B.Britton Ladies Section

In 2015 the club was focused on becoming a mixed club. discussions were had about the financial merger, along with facilities and roles within the club, Club badges and colours were chosen. 

2016 was the year that the lady’s section would finally merge with the men’s section. During their time with the club, they have proved to be invaluable to the club and undoubtedly contributed to the journey that has taken us, to where we are today.

The lady’s section was formed in 1991 and had 19 members originally two of the members still play to this day.

They played their first match against another club on June 25th, 1992 followed by 2 more later that season.

1994 the membership almost doubles to 37. The ladies applied to join the league and they were accepted in 1997. An open Ladies’ triple Competition was introduced in the same year 1997 In 1998 only the second year the ladies played in the league they went on to become Division 3 champions.

In 1999 the highlight of the Lady’s section to date was Muriel White and Ada Hoddinot competed in the Final of the Gloucestershire County pairs. and went on the represent the club at Leamington Spa The ladies’ section now celebrating 10 years in 2001 held a charity day and raised £1500 to be gifted to breast cancer research.

The Ladies’ Badge depicts Cosham’s hospital clock which can be seen from the Green.

Acknowledgments to Tim Hughes a current member of the G.B Britton Bowls Club for extracts from his Centennial book
1919 GB Britton Centenary 2019

Martin Slade who put This article together