The crest pictured above is from a store at Croydon, and on it is the claim that the company was founded in 1900 but Montague seems to be stretching the truth a little on that one. It's more like the day he landed in Britain from Lithuania with £100 in his pocket to seek his fortune, but I guess from his point of view it's a pretty valid claim and he soon set about making the dream of a fortune a reality. Of course Montague Burton wasn't his real name either - he started out as Meshe David Osinsky, tried Maurice Burton for a while but then finally settled on the slightly grander Montague Maurice Burton. He married Sophia Marks in 1909 and they later went on to have four children, Barbara, Stanley, Arnold and Raymond.There is a fascinating account of his story on the Working Lives Archive in a section dealing with the lives of immigrant workers to the country. It is also well illustrated with photos such as the one below.
And it's really his wife and children that are the reason for this particular entry, rather than the much celebrated Montague. By 1929 the Burton website claims he had over 400 shops and premises and by the time of Montague's death in 1952 there were many more. It seems that many of these stores were ceremonially opened by a member of the family - if not Montague himself, then his wife or one of his children, and the stores were often graced with an inscription to commemorate the occasion. I am sure many of these inscriptions still exist - pound to a penny there's one underneath the Croydon store pictured above - but I have recently stumbled across three examples and expect (now that I'm looking out for them ) to find a few more.
The stone is quite easy to spot, partly through its uniformity from site to site and apparently Scottish granite, according to the author J. Foster Fraser
Every Montague Burton shop has the same outward appearance, both in its window dressing and in the name of the firm uniformly presented in bronze lettering on the marble. The exterior stonework is always of emerald pearl granite with shafts of Scotch grey granite. The interior fittings of oak and gun-metal quiet and dignified are the same at every branch.
Mr Stanley Howard Burton, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, left estate valued at pounds 4,040,016 net.You can also make an appointment at the Leeds museum to have the pleasure in examining Stanley's travelling case or you could have a look at the Audrey and Stanley Burton Gallery at the University of Leeds.
St. Helier Estate, one of the largest housing estate in Europe at the time.
Arnold and his twin Raymond were born in 1917 so he was a more respectable 21 years of age at the time of the dedication. Arnold, like his brothers, also went into the family business and was able to indulge his passion for fast cars as Mel Reuben of Leeds recalled on a Leeds website
Arnold Burton who loved fast sports cars, purchased a top of the range French sports car. The car was being cleaned and valeted for his collection in the washing bay,in my wisdom I decided to take a short cut on the shop bike. Unfortunately I skidded on the wet floor and crashed the bike into the car and badly scratched the car. This was just a hour before Arnold Burton was collecting it.Subsequently I was suspended for the day and sacked the next dayArnold also went into the motor business with racing driver John Woolfe. This love of fast cars never left Arnold with tragic consequences as he was recently involved in a crash that left two people dead. Arnold has also set up his own charitable trust with a focus on Jewish and Yorkshire-related works .
I hope to find some inscriptions from Barbara and Raymond as well as from Montague himself in order to complete the set and with over 600 potential sites I'm sure it won't take too long.
*When The Full Monty Goes for a Burton are two sayings linked to the company. A 'Full Monty' was a cut-price all in one set of clothing suitable for de-mobbed servicemen and Gone for a Burton - a euphemism for being killed - is allegedly based on the same premise,
"It is a reference in some way to the suits made by Montague Burton. Military personnel were given a Burton's suit on demobilization, so anyone who was absent, either by being killed or after demobilization, could have been said to have 'gone for a burton'"