English Shoe Manufacturer Lotus Ltd.

Green suede pumps, ‘Career Girl’ by Lotus Ltd., c. 1965

In 1814 Thomas Bostock (1777 – 1865), moved to Stafford to set up a shoemaking business. Thomas’ son Edwin (1807-1883) became a partner in his father’s firm that by 1833 was employing about 200 men, women and children. Thomas’ other sons Frederick (1812 – 1890) and Thomas Jr. (1816-1871) also each set up shoemaking businesses, Frederick in Northampton in 1835, and Thomas Jr. in Stone in 1842.  Edwin took over the Stafford factory upon Thomas Jr’s death in 1871. 

Despite strikes by workers in the 1850s, sewing machines and other technologically advanced shoemaking equipment were installed in the factories during the late 19th century that expanded the profitable production of footwear for these companies. Edwin Bostock & Co., became a limited liability company in 1898. In 1919, Edwin Bostock & Co. Ltd. amalgamated with Frederick Bostock Ltd. of Northampton to become Lotus Ltd., a brand name Edwin Bostock had been using for some time. 

After years of being one of England’s largest shoe manufacturers, Lotus Ltd. left family ownership in 1970 and went into decline. Sold and resold several times, by 1998, all but the Northampton factory had been shuttered. The company name survives as a subsidiary of D. Jacobson & Sons Ltd.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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