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During the late 1920s Sir Robert and Charles Ashton Lister had been responsible for trying to obtain payments of bad debts incurred by American and Canadian farmers during the Great Depression. However, Charles remained in Canada where he built up the North American business for Listers as well as pursuing other business opportunities on his own.Being sympathetic to their plight debts he suggested to Sir Robert that Listers should sue the banks as there? He returned to England in about 1936 with his second wife Doris Eleanor and four new sons, Charles Owen, John, Frederick William and James Hugh.The Lister family, although not as highly religious as the Cadbury family or Terry's of York, had supplemented their workers' lifestyles through regular company-wide excursions.The firm was profitable in the 1930s, and able to provide town-wide medical services and a social club, which still exists.Charles saw at first-hand the rise of the Nazi Party and used the company's assets in Germany to assist those trying to rescue Jewish families from Germany and Austria by bribing officials.Charles had two Jewish daughters in Vienna who he had been unable to rescue.They were used for a wide variety of light tasks such as pumping and small-scale electricity generation.
In order to try and protect the value of the funds repaid he invested in German property including a hotel in Bavaria of dubious repute.
Although remaining the majority shareholder of Listers the running of the company was left in the hands of his first family led by Sir Percy.
Before going to North America Charles had been responsible for securing bad debt in Germany for R A Lister, during that county’s period of hyper-inflation.
During World War I, the factory was focused solely on War Department production, producing petrol engines, lighting sets and munitions. Charles Ashton Lister managed the company's business in North America and was based in Canada.
The company was eventually turned round under Percy's control, aided by the introduction in 1926 of the Lister Auto-Truck, used to move goods around factories, railway stations and dockyards the world over; production continued until 1973.