Harris Lebus by Paul Collier a book recommendation
I’ve never reviewed a book before , but having recently read Harris Lebus , A Romance with the Furniture Trade by Paul Collier i was so impressed that i decided to put one on our website ! Harris Lebus was the largest British furniture manufacturer for well over 50 years so when i heard that there was a recently published large softback history available for £19.99 i ordered it from Libri Publishing .
Paul Collier came across Harris Lebus when he moved to a home on the site of the Lebus factory in Tottenham and learnt a little of the site’s history . Intrigued he started to research the company and eventually met and became friends with Oliver Lebus who was in charge of the company for its last few years . Paul has never written a book before which surprised me because he’s produced a really interesting work that is not only highly informative but importantly is highly readable . I’m used to reading heavier tomes on furniture design which are often very dry and can’t be read in large chunks without nodding off ! This book is subtitled ” the story of a life …of a business … of a family …of a workforce community ” . It mixes business history with lovely vignettes of life working in a large mostly family run furniture factory over many years .
Harris Lebus were never a cutting edge maker of furniture , but they were a major backbone of the British furniture industry and were known as ” the largest furniture factory in the world ” for many years . Today little furniture is actually made in the UK , but until the late 1960’s most furniture sold in the UK was made here . That all changed in the 1970’s and the closure of Harris Lebus in 1970 although not the first , it was a major turning point . Other household names would merge and many would fold so that by the mid 1980’s only a few survived . Lebus employed around 1000 people from 1900 at a time when most furniture was made in very small workshops .
The rise and fall of a firm that started when a Jewish immigrant Louis Lebus came to Hull in around 1840 . It was his son Harris who rapidly turned a small business into the largest in the country . Harris started in the business in 1873 , and died aged only 55 in 1907 . This book charts the history of the firm over the years as well as that of the family and stories from some of it’s many employees . It’s the story of the rise and eventual fall of a very successful business . Other British manufacturing businesses had similar stories not only in the furniture industry starting as family run , before becoming public companies then failing or being taken over by other companies .