Mark’s History: Bramley and its famous boot-maker Brow

13 August 2018

I had read some time ago that Bramley had a reputation for being good at making boots, writes MARK STEVENSON.

I was looking something up (which had nothing to do with this article) when the name Brow Dickinson caught my eye – I just liked the name as much as anything else.

Brow Dickinson

I clicked the link and it took me to a website full of info on Brow and his brothers George and John, and it turns out they were from Bramley.

Brow was born in 1857 and in 1880 went into business with his brothers. At the time they were living in Swede Cottage on Back Lane, Bramley, where they cleared a room out and used that as their workshop.

Soon work had pick up enough that they needed a bigger place to make their boots so they moved into a workshop at Foster Buildings on Back Lane, Bramley.

billingbauk bramley

Brow Dickinson’s home. Photo: Mark Stevenson

By the end of their first year in business Brow and his brothers had about 20 employees and it was decided to move the factory to Elswick Place (roughly were Bramley Band Club is).

The orders kept coming and the business grew so once again they moved this time to Waterloo Mills.

With cheap leather coming in from America and new machines been invented. The Dickinson brothers, who made the “Benefit Boot”, felt confident enough to open an up-to-date factory at what is now Morrisons on Swinnow Road in 1890.

Their company was to merge with several similar companies to form The Public Benefit Boot Company.

Brow Dickinson remained in Bramley living at The Billingbauk and was elected to various boards, including the Bramley Board of Guardians.

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Sue Mags says:

I love these stories about Bramley. Great photo of how Town Street was when my family moved here in 1969. I’m sure I remember the Benefit shop being there then?
All those little independent speciality traders.
I’ve a recollection also of an old fashioned ‘cobblers’ which later moved nearer to The Globe pub. Anyone remember that?

Philip Harrison says:

The Billingbaulk house is still there.