7 thoughts on “William Leng & Sons

  1. Leng’s used to sell foundry safety boots, I used to go there during 60s to get new boots when needed, the safety boots had a wide leather flap that covered the laces, really good for stopping very hot sand going into boot when knocking out moulds, also helped stop bits of molten metal doing same, also boots had metal toe cap which I’m sure saved many a foot from serious injury. I worked at J. Downings iron foundry all through 60s.
    All the best.
    Derek

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  2. William Leng & sons was founded by William Leng (1813-1885) who was born at Wilton, Yorkshire but in 1841 was living and working as a currier at Stockton. By 1858 he had his own business as a currier & leather seller on Cleveland Row, Stockton-On-Tees. The business was only small employing 1 man & 1 boy. By 1879 his son Stephen B Leng (1854-?) had taken over was and the business had grown enabling them to employ 4 men & 3 boys. The firm now went under the name of S.B. Leng & Co. Stephens brother William Leng (1859-1942) was recorded on the 1891 census as a leather merchant. There was also another brother Thomas (1866-1940) who was a leather merchant. I don’t know when the firm became William Leng & sons but at some point prior to 1911 the business moved to Bishopton Lane.
    Most of the family are buried in adjoining plots in Oxbridge Cemetery.

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    • Stephen B Leng was Stephenson Boyes Leng (born 1853). His life after 1881 is a bit of a mystery when trying to trace him via the census. He may have married at Newcastle Upon Tyne in 1889 and died at Stokesley in 1930.
      The company retained the name S.B. Leng and Co. up to 1904 by which time they were trading on Bishopton Lane, Stockton-On-Tees. I believe they continued in business from this address into the 1980’s.
      The name William Leng & Sons may come from Stephenson Boyes Leng’s brother William (1859-1942). Two of his sons, William Norman Leng (born 1898) & Ernest Leng (born1901) were also Leather merchants in 1942.

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      • On September 12th 1960, 7 weeks after leaving school I became employed by William Leng and sons Ltd. in 16, Norfolk Street, Sunderland. The head office was in Bishopton Lane, Stockton-on-Tees. The premises had a full size board covering the ground floor window. Upon it was the company name and also the date the business was established. This was 1844.

        At that time the branch was ran by George Johnson, he had worked there from leaving school. His assistant was Raymond T Hall who had also been there from leaving school. There was an office girl named Cynthia Reah, who was about 18 at that time. I was employed by Mr. Johson as a warehouse assistant on a weekly wage of £2 10 shillings. He told me I would get a £1 rise on each birthday. At this time I was lacking confidence and to be honest was treat like an errand boy. My birthday came and went without a pay rise. In fact my 18th birthday passed without a rise and nothing had changed including my wages. Then one day I was asked to take a bundle of footwear to a customer in the outskirts of Sunderland. The bundle contained 12 pairs of men’s shoes/boots and weighed very heavy. It was also very bulky. I carried it into the street intending to continue to the bus stop. Mr. Johnson was watching me struggle and saw me having to drag the bundle. He came to the door and shouted at me not to damage the parcel.
        This made me react the way I should have done a long time before. I told him if he wanted them delivered to take them in the company van. At that time he was about to go home for lunch in the van. I was prepared to leave the job, but after a big discussion about wages and my lack of any responsibility I was offered £5 a week. I told him that I also wanted back pay. He told me Mr. Bruce Leng would not permit this.

        I accepted the offer but decided to look for alternative employment. A few months later he took time off to go to a football match at Luton. The match was on a Saturday but he left on Thursday lunch time. He didn’t return until Tuesday. Raymond had contacted Mr. Leng and he was waiting at the Sunderland branch on that Tuesday when Mr. Johnson returned. Raymond told me to keep out of sight for a while. It ended up with Mr. Johnson being fired.
        I left Leng’s a few months later and got a much better paid job. After 3 more years I was in the town, Sunderland, and bumped into Jean who had returned after being left Leng’s before my employment. I wasn’t too happy at that time with my job. I told her this and Raymond came to my home and asked if I would like my job back. The wage was £14 with no future increases. I accepted and after 8 months was advised to apply to a telecommunication firm for a night shift job by a friend. I was successful and needed to start within a week. The wage was up to 3 times what I was getting at Leng’s so I took it.

        It’s around 15 years since I last met Raymond. He was retired and told me the premises was sold off and the new company who bought out Leng’s provided him with a car and he worked between home and the Stockton branch. I told Raymond that my time at Leng’s mainly through himself had instilled me with confidence in later life and I became a salesman with a national company and I twice achieved top salesman of the year. We had over 1500 sales people at that time and I regret that I lacked confidence in my early days at Leng’s. I hope this may add to your wonderful history of the company. THANK YOU, MELVYN LONGSTAFF.

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        • Thank you Melvyn for the story of your time with William Leng. I was unaware they had a branch outside of Stockton.
          This is really what I believe this website is about. The history of the firm I have put on this site is taken from dry sources such as censuses, trade directories and old newspapers. the reason I put this photo on the picture Stockton site was to hopefully get feedback from people such as yourself who lived this history. Please add further comments of your memories of the firm no how matter trivial.
          Did you ever visit the Stockton premises? Your memories are the history of the future.

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