John Sebastian Macaulay Booth – 1913-1994
The third generation of the Booth family to run the Booth business. I knew him as Chief Executive of the Booth Group in the late eighties. A wonderful man rich in tales of many things from the Reform Club to the history of the Booth Group around the world: from the building of the Port of Manaus (built in Liverpool and floated over the Atlantic) to the collecting of dog dung in Constantinople for shipment to Philadelphia for use in Surpass Leathers, the Booth tannery bought their to process Brazilian cabrettas. We use to look forward to going to his house in Southwell, which had an exceptionally fine view of the Minster, to listen to him talk of the past as well as the present.
P Stanley Briggs
Stanley Briggs was my tutor at the University of Leeds. He had a profound experience in the leather industry through his family business and his experience in India. He was friendly with my father and the sort of tutor everyone needs at a University. Understood how to put keep things in perspective.
Sir Humphrey Davy 1778-1829
Discovered and analysed a wide range of alternate vegetable tannins to replace oak, identifying catechu. He also discovered potassium and sodium and invented the miner’s lamp.
From the Encyclopaedia Britannica:
“he was invited to lecture at the newly founded Royal Institution of Great Britain in London, where he moved in 1801, with the promise of help from the British-American scientist Sir Benjamin Thompson (Count von Rumford), the British naturalist Sir Joseph Banks, and the English chemist and physicist Henry Cavendish in furthering his researches; e.g., on voltaic cells, early forms of electric batteries. His carefully prepared and rehearsed lectures rapidly became important social functions and added greatly to the prestige of science and the institution. In 1802 he became professor of chemistry. His duties included a special study of tanning: he found catechu, the extract of a tropical plant, as effective as and cheaper than the usual oak extracts, and his published account was long used as a tanner’s guide.”
Walter Frankford (originally Frankfurther) 1905-1980
Born in Vienna 1905, died Cottingham, England 1980. His father Wilhelm Frankfurther was a leather merchant in Vienna and the family involvement in leather went much further back. Walter got a PhD in chemistry at the University of Vienna in the 1920s. He then went and studied in leather technology institutes in Germany – Darmstadt and Dresden before coming to England in the early 1930s. He worked in Nottingham at Charles Wade. I believe there was some connection with Booths even from that period. In 1950 he moved to Beverley and worked at Booth Research Laboratories, connected with Melrose Tannery. I know he used to travel in England and overseas in connection with the leather industry. He spent some time (around 1950) in Kenya (Thika) and also in the US with Surpass. Later in his career he moved from Melrose to a tannery in Hull. I remember that working on shell cordovan leather was a big thing with him (?during the 50s). He was an examiner for City and Guilds exams.
“He certainly had strong academic interests and I guess would have liked to have made this his career, but had to deal with the realities of the European situation. My grandparents arrived as refugees just before war. The business was subsequently expropriated by the Nazis”
(compiled with the help of his son , Bob Frankford)
Prof. Dr Hans Herfeld 1907-2002
In 1966 I won a scholarship to spend one week in Waalwijk in Holland and one each at Darmstadt and Reutlingen in Germany. In those days there were leather schools in all these locations but now only Reutlingen remains. It was at Reutlingen that I met Prof Herfeld and he was as fascinating as he was hospitable. There were three of us the trip, and he gave us an excellent time.
Jim was instrumental in persuading me to join the Booth Group, where he was Group Technical Director. He had played a key role in many of the Booth plants around the world – New Zealand Light Leathers, Nigeria, Kenya, N.Ireland etc. He kept the Booth alumni together with great skill.
Norman Lee 1926-2002
Norman was Managing Director of Hodgsons Chemicals when I first met him, at a time when they pushing Bavon D as a waterproofing material. Bavon was a development using long chain di-carboxylic acids worked out by Stanley Briggs my tutor at Leeds, and my final year project was a tiny part of the study.
Henry Richardson Procter – 1848-1927
First Professor of Leather at the Procter Department of the University of Leeds. Professor Procter worked as a chemist at Edward and James Richardson before going to the University. I worked briefly at E&J Richardson before it closed in the early 1970s.
Henry Basil Redwood 1903-1994
My father grew up in Newcastle and his first introduction to the leather industry came with the family friendship with the Richardson family who owned E&J Richardson. He trained as a chemist and specialized in finishing technology. This skill took him to Andrew Muirhead and Sons in Glasgow in the 1930’s where he remained until his full retirement in 1973.
Raymond Wilson 1944-2002
Ray had achieved a great deal in his life in the leather industry, but one still feels that there was an awful lot more to come. His unexpected death in 2002 has been a sad loss. I knew him at first in the family engineering business and I remember sitting with his team in the early eighties looking at what was happening to the leather industry on a global scale. In setting up World Leather Ray made the strategic move from the industrial economy to the knowledge economy, yet keeping the organisation close to the people, the products and the issues of manufacturing. Ray was always a great one to bounce ideas around with, either as a friend in difficult times, or in a more strategic business. It was Ray’s ideas to link this web site with leatherbiz.com and I had looked forward to many opportunities for business and social meetings.
Joseph Turney Wood – 1865-1924
Director of Turner Bros. of Nottingham, England. Discovered pancreatic alternate to replace dog dung in bating. I was Chairman of Turner Bros. in the late seventies. With interest in enzymes growing at the start of the 21st century he could be viewed as the founder of the modern biotechnological tanning concept.
Top European leather scientists named in 1937 by Shoe and Leather Reporter. Sir Humphrey Davy, A.Seymour Jones, A.Turnbull, Christian Heinzerling, Karl H.Gustavson.
world list produced in 2009 by Leather International Magazine Leather Scientists Pre 1940
Henry Richardson Procter
John Arthur Wilson
A Seymour Jones
Leather Scientists 1940-1970
Robert L Sykes
Leather Scientists 1970-2010
Anthony D Covington
Samir Das Gupta
Eleanor M Brown