Beykoz Leather and Shoe Factory

The factories of Beykoz, which witnessed the final years of the Ottoman State and the industrialization adventure of Turkey had sentimental values for this city of workers. They were not just “factories” for the people of Beykoz. The whistles of the factories were the jingle of life in Beykoz. The first whistle woke the workers at 06:30, and the second whistle at 07:00 meant “Get ot of the house!” for them. The third whistle at 07:15 was the order to start working.

The “stop” whistle at 17:00 stopped the life in the factory, while starting it in Beykoz. The grocers shone their apples, butchers start mincing meat, the hand-burning hot breads are placed on stands in bakeries, and the housewives placed their foods on fire.

The pulse of Beykoz’s social life was also beating in these factories. The second winter cinema, (after the converted barn “Ali Bey’s Cinema”) was in the Shoe Factory. Hollywood stars passed through its sports-hall wide dining hall’s gigantic wall. The factory sometimes played foreign films, while Ali Bey always played local movies.

The people of Beykoz had the privilage of seeing the great stars of the Turkish scene thanks to the factory. Each year, the factories organized gigantic circumcision ceremonies on the Beykoz Prairie in July or August. Zeki Müren who wasn’t yet named “The Sun of Art,” the “Wonder Woman” Sevim Çağlayan, “Radio’s Nightingale” Muzaffer Akgün, “Doll” Gönül Yazar, “Mr. Milky Way” Berkant, “Comedy Master” Celal Şahin, and many more stars of the period entertained the people of Beykoz with their songs and jokes until the morning.

The carpenters of the Shoe Factory worked for about a month to prepare for the circumcision festivities. The dismantling of the football-field-wide are took another 15 days. The feast was talked about all year round.

Beykoz Shoe Factory established in 1812 manufactured shoes for the soldiers who fought in the Balkan War, Çanakkale and Independence Wars, even for Ataturk himself. 

While Sultan Mahmud II. was passing through Selviburnu in 1812, he sees that an old, bearded man was working along with four-five others under the trees at the location where there is a tannery today. He asks: “what does this old man do here?” The reply is “This old man is a tanner, he works leather here, then transports them to the Istanbul market.” Sultan Mahmud orders that “The army needs sandals, help the old man to grow his enterprise. Establish a sandal sewing workshop nearby and let the state army’s sandals manufactured here.” Thus, Hamza Usta receives government subsidy. The first tannery, Beykoz Leather and Shoe Factory, is established in 1812. It becomes a serious factory in 1842. The facility meets the shoe and bandoleer requirements of the army and obtains a quality that overshadows French leather. Its capacity reaches a thousand shoes per day in 1912. It becomes a large industrial complex with various additions in time. The Drapery and Rug Factory nearby and the Hamidiye Paper Mill become other permanent parts of the complex.

The capacity reaches 2.5 million pairs in 1980s. The profits from Beykoz found the Van, Tercan and Sarıkamış Leather and Shoe Factories. The crews for those factories are trained in Beykoz. Old people remember that the children don’t like these shoes, however they are very durable so no new shoes are bought. The children played football to damage the shoes to no avail.

Following the declaration of the Republic, the Military Factories come under the control of the general directorate. In 1925, it is transferred to the newly founded Industry and Mines Bank. The industrial investments of the bank are reorganized under the name Sumerbank in 1933. The institution thus becomes Sümerbank Leather and Shoe Industry Enterprise. The facilities built upon a land of 182.000 square meters register their first loss in 1986, and privatized in 1987. They are sold to Yıldırım Holding, Inc. for 29.750.000 TL. 

Around 50 registered 1st and 2nd degree historical buildings including the factory buildings, their annexes, water pool, its maxem, square pool, and watchtower, that are the living monuments to the Sultan Abdulhamid II.’s era of industrialization play a background role in the TV series nowadays. The Company rents out the factory site and the old buildings to moviemakers. Many familiar movies and series are shot at this location. 

Although it is defunct today, Göksu Rope Factory, the building of which still stands is one of the factories established in the first years of the Republic. The factory founded on the Göksu shore in the 1930s is also the first rope factory in Turkey. A Wood Plating Factory and Brick and Roof Tile Factory were added to the factory complex built upon the Göksu Prairie. Although the facotry buildings still stand, the factories are now defunct.

Beykoz Drapery and Rug Factory active in 1853, Paşabahçe Spermacetti Candle Factory established in 1857, Madiano Glass Factory built upon an ancient tradition in 1899, Paşabahçe Brick and Roof Tile Factory established in 1910 in Çukurçayır and that was active until 1962, Paşabahçe Bottle and Glass Factory established in 1930 upon Atatürk’s personal interest and that was active for 70 years,were expertly located structures in the factory basin of Istanbul, Beykoz, between the Bosphorus and the greenery. Most of them do not exist today, however their memories still live on in this worker town of the Anatolian side.


Beykoz Leather and Shoe Factory