Bata Heritage Centre

New arrivals to the UK build valuable skills whilst discovering local heritage

National Highways’ Lower Thames Crossing project worked with Thurrock Community College and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) to host transferrable skills training sessions at the BATA Heritage Centre for groups from the organisation Welcome to the UK.

Welcome to the UK is a charity which was set up to support families from overseas to positively engage in their community. New arrivals from eastern Europe, Russia and Sri Lanka attended sessions to help them learn English and give them transferrable skills such as IT, social skills, building confidence and teamwork, as well as learning about the heritage of the area. 

Following on from the skills sessions, which included classroom workshops and a site tour, the groups were tasked with documenting their experience by designing a flyer on local heritage for future groups, with top tips, travel information and points of interest. They also set up a blog to tell others about their experience. 

Welcome to the UK groups on a tour of the Bata heritage centre
Welcome to the UK groups on a tour of the Bata heritage centre
Welcome to the UK groups on a tour of the Bata heritage centre


Based in East Tilbury, the Bata Heritage Centre aims to showcase the interesting history of the Bata Shoe Co Ltd, its industrial and architectural heritage, and the social history of those who worked for the Bata company and the people who lived on the Bata residential estate. 

Tomáš Baťa was a Czech migrant who came to the UK in the 1930s to set up a shoe factory and build a surrounding model town for its workers, creating homes and jobs for other new migrants.  

The Bata shoe factory was one of the most important planned landscapes in the East of England in the 20th century. The factory produced shoes for over 70 years but closed in 2005. 

Today, a team of volunteers look after the Bata heritage Centre which exhibits displays and provides research facilities for part of the Bata collection showing the life and times of the Bata factory and those living on its residential estate between the 1930s and the early 2000s. 

The Bata heritage centre exhibits
The Bata heritage centre exhibits
"I was impressed with the manner in which the course participants were both excited by and engaged with the local heritage around East Tilbury"
Dr Steve Sherlock, Heritage Advisor for the Lower Thames Crossing
"We were blown away by the enthusiasm and curiosity of the students who took part. They fully embraced and respected the work of the Bata heritage centre, taking on board the explanations by the volunteers. I’m looking forward to taking the reflections from this course to the next stage"
Dr Katrina Foxton, Project Officer for Museum of London Archaeology

Lower Thames Crossing Community Archaeology and Heritage Programme 

The sessions are part of a wider community archaeology and heritage programme we’re delivering for Kent and Essex over the next two years, comprising of workshops, training, community digs, guided walks, talks and heritage site visits. The purpose is to empower local people along the route of the Lower Thames Crossing to take an interest in recording, visiting and appreciating heritage and archaeological sites, as well as helping with wellbeing and enjoyment of their local area.  

For information about our heritage and archaeology programme of events, visit our website and follow our social media channels:

Facebook: @LowerThames
Twitter: @LowerThames
LinkedIn: @LowerThames
YouTube: Lower Thames Crossing