Posted by: thomlift | April 17, 2009

Early Days

My life started on the 11th June 1929 and became a member of a family of 4 others, my mothers name was Emily Elizabeth otherwise known as Emm and my father was Edward John Thomas otherwise known as Jacko.

My Mum spent most of her married life as a cleaner for hotels or offices starting at 6 am. Dad was a jack of all trades, well the truth is he didn’t have a trade, and consequently turned his hand to any job that came his way.

Before I was born he was employed making wooden packing cases and after that making coffins, which has a similar ring to it. He then worked for a steel construction company called Measure Brothers who prepared rolled steel beams for the construction of buildings etc. His job was a called a platers mate. He would help to handle the steel sections to the machines for punching the holes for bolting the girders together on the construction site. He would also volunteer to be the watchman at weekends for the extra money. I would often take him a meal that Mum had cooked that was placed between two plates and wrapped in a gingham tea towel. My job was to get a tram from the Bricklayers Arms to Southwark Bridge and then walk to the Factory in Lavington Street.

The place where I was born was 6, Ackworth Street, London SE17 close to the famous pub “The Bricklayers Arms”. The street was a cul-de-sac off Great Dover Street,but at the end of the street there was a road at right angles that led out to Tower Bridge Road. Small columns were installed in the ground on the junction to prevent vehicles using it as a short cut. This made the street ideal for us children to go out to play. This street does not exist now because it was demolished and became part of a new flyover and roundabout linking Old Kent Road and New Kent Road.

On one corner of Ackworth Street and Great Dover street was a mans clothing shop and on the other was a leather shop which sold shoe leather that my Dad bought to mend our shoes. This shop later was bombed during the war and became an EWS (Emergency Water Supply). The shop had a cellar and when the building was demolished they sealed the cellar with bitumen and then filled it with water to be used by the fire brigade in the event of a nearby fire in the buildings. There was also a bakers in Great Dover St and I would meet my Mum off the bus coming home from her cleaning job at the Strand Palace Hotel in the Strand and she would buy a couple of doughnuts which we would take home and have with a cup of tea, these were very yummy.

Opposite the houses on the left hand side of Acworth Street there was a company called Wallington & Jones, they manufactured walk in cold stores or refrigerators – the sort used by butchers to store meat. My brother John  worked there as a blacksmith, in fact he was the only engineer and made all of the metalwork that was needed for the product. I lived with my brother and 3 sisters and next door to us was my paternal Grandfather Cornelius Donovan, otherwise known as Con, who gave me a shining 1 pence piece every time I took him a bucket of coal. He was a Wheelwright by trade and spent his younger years on the old sailing tea clippers. He finally worked at Aldous & Campbell who made Lifts and Cranes. Con would put together long jibs for cranes out in the road as the factory was not large enough to accommodate them for assembly. But more about this company later. My eldest sister Nelly married a man called James George Jarman who was always called George (this will be more relevant later). They had only one child named Brenda. She was a few years younger than me but we were very good friends. They lived over a tailors shop in Tower Bridge Road not far from us. It was said that my sister told my mother that she was disgusted with her to have a child at her age, bearing in mind that at that time my sister was old enough to be my mother. My youngest sister Emm (as she was called, her name was also Emily) and I went to the same school together, English Martyrs Catholic School Rodney Road, Walworth. This was a fair way to walk to school, and we had to cross a very busy junction at the old Bricklayers Arms. We were the only ones going to the school from our part of the Borough and so we did not have any school friends to play with at home. Many a time I would hang on to the railings when going to school and Emm had to force me to let go and go to school, on one occasion I put my head through the railings and could not get it back. She had to call for help to set me free. Emm married Arthur Alderson who she met whilst working during the war at a company called Dewrance in Great Dover Street, they had 3 children, Terry, Patsy and Michelle.

Posted by: thomlift | April 2, 2009

War Time 1939

In September 1939 war was declared and immediately my one and only brother John who was in the Territorial Army part of the Queens Royal Regiment was called up for active service.   He was also called Edward John after our father, but in the army he was always known as Ted for obvious reasons. As soon as war was declared he was called up, into active service, he was soon to be seen filling sandbags and placing them around the Government buildings in Westminster, but before long he was sent to France to fight the Germans.  The action was not very successful and they found themselves retreating and then being evacuated at the renown place of Dunkirk.  He however was taken prisoner before reaching Dunkirk and spent the whole of the war as a POW in Stalag 33.

Young GeorgeSoon after war started I was evacuated with the school to Newton Abbot in Devon very close to Torquay.  We went to Devon by train from Paddington and on arrival at the station we formed up in a column of two’s and walked from the station into the town.  Our next stop was a Church Hall.  There we all sat around waiting for the local people to come and select children.  They would take them back to their house and look after them for an indefinite period.  There was no school for us to use so we had our schooling in a large house with each class in a room.  Our lessons were primarily of a practical nature, like mending socks, knitting and outdoor games like rounders.

I was chosen by a Mr & Mrs Stoyal.  Mr Stoyal was a compositor in a small printing works and Mrs Stoyal had a very successful second hand clothes business.  There was also a daughter, Joyce, who was older than us who worked in the local fish & chip shop.

Every Friday I would go to her shop for our take away meal.  She would serve us up large portions and charge very little.  I say us because there were two other boys who were also evacuees staying in the house.  One was Ted Sullivan and the other was Reg Blower.  Both of these left to go back to London after a couple years.

With all of the Stoyal family out at work I very soon took over the cooking for the family, with the help of Mrs Stoyal.  On Sundays I would make large Cornish Pasties and Joyce, who was married, would come and collect one to take home.

As I was getting near to my 14th birthday and was able to go to work, I was returned home to London.  Not to my old house but to a new address because we had been, as they say, “bombed out”.  My Mum, Dad and Sister Emm were now living at 28 Deverall Street not far from Acworth Street. It was the house where George Jarman’s Mum used to live and was scheduled to be demolished as they were about 100 years old with an outside Loo and no electricity only Gas lighting.

The house that we lived in had an entrance to a small factory alongside our front door and there was a door in the hall that led out to the driveway of the factory behind the front gates.

The Factory was called Bilbie Hobson who at one time in its life made Gas Engines. However in my time it was almost dormant and was only used as a base for outworkers. I believe Mum use to get some payment for being a key-holder and generally keeping an eye on the place.

We had an Anderson air raid shelter in the grounds of the factory to which all 4 of us would sleep during the air raids, we slept on very single 30″bunk beds with web strapping and a basic mattress. One night the Germans dropped incendiary bombs on the factory so Dad & I climbed up on the roof with stirrup pumps to put out the flames.

On my return home from DevonI continued my education back at the English Martyrs School, which had expanded into another school next-door known as Flint Street School.  It was here that had my first lesson in Draughtsmanship.  The teacher set me and another boy, whose name I can’t remember, a task of measuring the School Hall and setting this out to scale.  We did this incorporating all the windows, doors and radiators.  I am proud to say this was framed and hung in the Hall.

Posted by: thomlift | April 1, 2009

Starting Work

Young GeorgeTime came to look for jobs.  The school was a great help with this task, many boys went to a clog factory, others to a surgical instrument maker and I myself started at a company called Laystall Ltd who was looking for a full time tea boy.  The factory was not far from Measure Bros where my Dad worked.  Laystall manufactured crankshafts for many  engine makers.

One crankshaft was for the Rolls Royce engine fitted in the Spitfire which had a special extension for a supercharger.  Another was for Air Pumps Ltd for use in their compressors and also cast iron ones for Ford; these were for army vehicles.

When I was not carrying out my duties as Tea Boy I would watch the men working on the machines and my special treat was helping in the inspection department.  After nine months I asked for promotion from tea boy.  The foreman said if I could find another tea boy to take my place he would promote me.  There was a likely candidate a few doors away in Deverall Street and after working on him he finally decide to give it a go.  I had to train him but very soon he left and so did I.

My Mother said to me, “Why not try for a job at Aldous & Campbell Ltd where your grandfather worked”.   So at the age of 15,  off I went to see Mr Uden who had the job of recruitment and was also the only official salesman for the company.  He interviewed me through a small window in the door to the Buyers office where Reps would come to speak to the buyer to try and sell their goods.  Anyway, he took me on to start work in the stores with Mr Garlick Senior.

I found this very interesting and soon became very familiar with part numbers and the type of components. The work was mainly for the war effort; pedestals for depth charges on ships, special rudders for small navel vessels, the bearings for PLUTO – the under water pipe used in the “D” Day landings among others.

I soon became a registered apprentice Fitter & Turner which was back dated to the time I first started at the company, my Dad had to sign the apprentice papers.  Mum & Dad were so proud of me.

The works Manager was very good to me and moved me around in the work shop using different machines and also doing fitting or assembly work, in fact when two new lathes were bought by the company Eric Greene and I were the first to use them.

Soon after this the company enrolled us at the Borough Polytechnic for Engineering classes, attending one day a week and one evening, to study for a City & Guilds Certificate for Fitting and Turning at the Borough Polytechnic which took 3 years to complete  There was about 12 of us from the factory attending this course, but each year more and more boys dropped out or stayed away from College and had the time off. The subjects were very basic to get us up to what would probably be today a GCSE standard.

These included English and Maths which for me was very useful. I stayed on for another 2 years to obtain a Full Technological Certificate.  After this I was offered a job as an instructor in the college workshop in the evening teaching machine shop practice.  One day on my way home about mid-afternoon from the Borough Poly there was an almighty explosion and I saw shop windows flex in towards the shop and then come back out and break on to the pavement.  I saw all this whilst I was being blown off my feet.  The cause of this was a V2 rocket landing on a pub called the Virginia Plant not far from Aldous & Campbell in Great Dover.  Needless to say, the pub was completely demolished.

My next good fortune was that the company was short of draughtsman and the company decided to try using apprentices in the Drawing Office, no prizes for guessing who was the first to be given the opportunity, you’re right it was I.

It so happened that our Managing Director had given me a prize for my school attendance, which was a small set of drawing instruments.  I started at 8.30am on a Monday morning and reported to Mr Len Adlard who organised the office together with Mr Charlie Barret.  Len asked me if I had any drawing instruments and I replied yes.

“Show me”, he said.

“Ah”, said I, “I didn’t bring them because I did not think I would be drawing so soon.”  However, quick as a flash, I said “I only live up the road and I could soon get them”.

“Good”, he said “Off you go.”

I ran like the wind and was soon back at the office.  I had a drawing board in between Len & Charlie.  My very first drawing was to trace on to linen a Guide Shoe Part No 19 WS 27 that Charlie has designed.  Charlie spent most of his time designing new equipment, which he discussed with Mr John Halliday the Chief Engineer.  Len did most of the contract drawings for the lifts and wrote all the letters.  He reported to Mr L Meering, a company Director who was also in charge of Sales.  I spent my time working for both Charlie and Len, but as more work came in for new lifts, I was working almost full time for Len.  It would seem that I had set a standard for other apprentices to join me in the Drawing Office. During this time Geof Meering, son of Mr L Meering Director of the Company, started work as a draughtsman with us. He went on to become a salesman for the Company and he and I became good friends.

My Dad worked at Measure Brothers for 34 years and was retired or sacked by them with no pension or payment.  Money was a problem and so I made enquiries at A & C for a job for him, he started as a Labourer lifting and carrying the raw material that came in to the factory from lorries. This was sometimes very heavy work, Dad didn’t complain but shortly Dad was relieved of this task.   The Works Manager Frank Foster together with a foreman Eric Clarke, who was a friend of mine, who incidentally stored his bike in our front garden, decided to put Dad on a bench painting components.  I would often see Dad with all the items he had painted stacked up on his bench with him nowhere to be seen.  He was having a great time.

After the war was over, my Brother John was repatriated and arrived at the house in Deverall Street while I was out , when I arrived home from work and was standing in the kitchen,  John asked Mum who I was , remember I was 10 years old when he left and now I am 16 , he was in shock when he was told this is your brother.

All the time my brother was away he had been in contact with Dot his girlfriend and she had waited for him throughout the whole of the war and during this time she came and visited  us quite frequently and soon after him arriving home they got married with him still wearing his uniform. They had two children Lynda and Shirley and were now living in Crawley East Sussex.  Lynda now lives near Vancouver BC with husband Alan.  Shirley lives in Crawley, East Sussex.  Sadly their mother Dot died at a young age.

Ted remarried and had further children with whom I lost contact.

My second eldest sister was Louis.  She married a man called John Ferguson who was a machinist at a local wood yard also in Deverall Street.  They married and moved out of the London area into Dagenham, which was like a new town built by the LCC (London County Council), they had two children John and David.

My girl friend Kath also came with me to Dagenham for a ride out on our bikes, we had a lot of fun on our bikes going to all manner of places including a place called Runnymede.  My brother John, who worked for Claude Butler a famous bicycle maker, there he made a ladies bike for Kath which was constructed with Renolds 531 tubing and consequently was very light, we carried on cycling on our individual bikes until one day I decided that waiting at the top of the hill for Kath which was not on, so I bought a tandem.  This made life more bearable and fun.

On one of my solo trips to Dagenham, cycling along Whitechapel Road,  the air-raid warning sounded and soon after I heard the familiar sound of a German V1 rocket, otherwise known as a doodlebug because of its distinctive buzzing sound.  It was coming along the road behind me so I pedaled as fast as I could and turned left at the next road junction to get out of its path.  Soon after the engine stopped and then there was an explosion, needless to say I survived.

Posted by: thomlift | March 29, 2009

Conscription

As Mentioned previously I was a 5 year apprentice with Aldous Campbell Ltd training as a Fitter and Turner. A Fitter and Turner is someone who manufactures mechanical parts (turner) and assembles (fitter) those parts together to manufacture a mechanical device. During this period the Government made it compulsory for all 18 year old boys to go into National Service, however apprentices were excused this duty until they had finished their apprenticeship. This let me off until I reached the age of 21.

So in 1950 I was drafted into the RAF to do my National Service. Off I went to Padgate near Warrington in Lancashire to do what is known as Square Bashing, this is slang for marching up and down the parade ground until we formed a synchronized unit. All of the 8th Flight B Squadron were 18 years old except me.

We were billeted in huts of about 20 lads and on the first night I was playing nursemaid to most of the others in the hut who were crying for their mothers.

I was asked occasionally to take over the group in the billet  and march them to other parts of the camp for varies duties. On one occasion I took them to have our inoculations and after I had mine I went outside and fainted. The lads brought me round and immediately I jumped up and told them to Fall in and then marched them back to our billets.

The time came for all of us to be posted to an operational unit after we Passed Out (finished our training with a ceremony) so off we went and queued in front of guys at desks who decided what work you would be doing and where it was to be done.

When it came to my turn the guy said “so Thomas you are to have an office job because you are graded A2”.

This was because of a problem with hearing in my left ear, so I said what about me being a Draftsman which is what I was doing in civvy street.

“Oh”, he said “A good idea”.

This is where it gets a bit stupid. In the Flight were 3 other Draftsman who were grade 1, but worked for aircraft companies, they got posted as Cooks or Wireless ops.

During my time at Padgate I was often asked by the Drill Sergeant what was wrong with this flight and my reply was that they were very young for their age.

My posting had not been confirmed by the time we left  Padgate so after some leave I came back for 2 weeks.

During this period I was also called upon to do some technical drawing for the Air Commodore. The sergeant took me to his office and left me outside, The A C called me in and showed me what he wanted me to do. It was a series of hand drawn Graphs that he needed to be drawn up in a professional manner. He told me to sit in his chair to do the graphs as no one was to see them, he said he would be back in a couple of hours.

During the time I was working on in his office there were knocks on the door and people would come in, saw me in the Chair and apologise and hastily leave, it was great fun. When The A C came back I had completed the job in hand, he was pleased with my work and called my Sergeant and told him to look after me. This meant going to the Sergeants Mess and in a large cupboard I was to help myself to goodies.

My posting came through and and off I went to RAF Bicester, Oxfordshire. This was a Maintenance Unit (MU) with scores of RAF Officers and most of the Erks were attached to Officers to carry out any work they required.

I reported for duty on my first day to the Technical Officers only to find that the position of draughtsman was for one non-commission rank  and this was filled by a Corporal who was a regular serviceman was not a in the RAF doing National Service.

He said “what are you doing here?”. And after I told him he said “Well you can do the work”. A week later another corporal appeared on the scene.  The Officer in charge of our section sent me to RAF Chigwell for a trade test. This consisted of a written paper and completing a drawing of a Diesel Engine Injection Nozzle, I completed these in the time allotted  and passed the test , and the officer in charge told me afterwards that very few people noticed the very tiny holes in the nozzle for the fuel to spray out into the cylinders.

Soon after returning to RAF Bicester my grade came through from the test to promote from an AC2 to a Leading Aircraftsman with 3 half propellors on my sleeve. This made me the senior man in the hut.

I managed to get some 48 hour passes to come home at week-ends and stock up on food. My best fried in the billet was a chap called Norman Lloyd nicknamed Slash, who lived near Manchester and therefore did not get home very often but he would get food parcels and we would share our spoils. My nickname was Eggo – dont ask me why, I dont know, but nicknames are like that!

About May 1951 there was a search for Draftsman in the RAF because there was a shortage of Draftsman in the Air Ministry, we did not know the details for this at the time but a lot of National Service Draftsman were sent by coach to RAF West Drayton near London and from there we went to Bush House in the Strand for interviews by civil servants in all departments to see if we were suitable to work for them.

I was not doing very well with this until I was interviewed by a Captain Burridge who was having a problem with a lift in a building at London Airport. The building was a Radar Unit and the roof was to be kept clear of obstructions so there was no place for a motor room for the lift. I told him how this could be achieved by using a hydraulic lift and thus I was was told to report for work in the Air Ministry Architects Dept next morning at Bush House North Wing.

I went back to West Drayton and got myself a living out pass, so having booked myself in at West Drayton I then went around again to book myself out.

I was now working in Bush House, living at home, and travelling to work on a number 21 bus from the Bricklayers Arms, South London crossing the Thames on the way, so I could say I was serving overseas, collecting my pay by draft every Thursday from an officer also based in Bush House. This continued until the end of my national service in 1952. It was then back to West Drayton for Demob.

I was now back at Aldous & Campbell drawing office and because of my influence at the Air Ministry we quoted and got the order for the hydraulic lift at the airport, and my task now was to prepare the drawing for the lift and pass the instructions into the factory for producing the parts to construct the lift on site, the main feature of this lift was that at the top floor it would continue up from this floor with a security switch to raise the roof over the lift so that Radar instruments could be taken out on the roof and used without any obstructions when the lift was lowered.

During all this time since leaving school I was attending Mass at the Church, English Martyrs, and also the Youth club that met in the school. I was also a member of the YCW (Young Christian Workers) where we studied the Gospels and also visited lapse Catholics in the area whom we knew to try to get them to the Club. At the club we played cricket, football and tennis in the school playground ,Gym exercises, Billiards and Dancing Lessons on Wednesday evenings. We had a great time and everyone was happy to be there.

Posted by: thomlift | March 28, 2009

Marriage

During my apprenticeship I met a girl called Kathleen at our dance classes on Wednesday nights and we would dance together quite often this progressed outside of the dance classes and became my girlfriend.
We would go to the cinema very often and she would book seats for the London Palladium near to where she worked to see some great shows and some great stars from the USA.
We were courting for many years including my time away in the RAF.
After doing my national service and at the age of 23 I asked Kathleen to marry means to my surprise she accepted!
We had been seeing each other for a long time and when I asked her parents for her hand in marriage, her mum said “So soon?”.
We made it to the altar in the English Martyrs church on the 8th August 1953, the reception was held over a pub called the Roebuck in Great Dover Street, SE1.
During the reception I sneaked back to Mum & Dads house to see the final TV showing of The Quatermass Experiment. We then left the reception and made our way to Paddington to catch the night train to Torquay traveling in a sleeping compartment that we shared with another couple.
We stayed in a boarding house run by Mrs Rogers who was very nice and made our stay very enjoyable and we had a wonderful time just the two of us.
We came home  live in two rooms in my Mum & Dads house.  the small room was a combination Living, Dining & Sitting room which had hot & cold water and a roaring fire the coal for which was brought upstairs by the coal man, stored in a large box I had made in the corner of the room with a hinged lid to retrieve the coal The Larger room was the bedroom which was quite large and very cold.

I had spent some time making the rooms as comfortable as possible which meant running a copper pipe from the scullery at the back of the house up to out new L,D,S, room  installing a small Ascot for hot water and of course nearly forgot to mention installing Electricity in the house to replace the Gas lighting.

Now we had electricity my Mum & Dad bought a 9″ black & white Bush television and were over the Moon with it not forgetting the new electric lighting.

Soon after we settled in our two rooms we bought a small motor bike called the BSA Bantam to get around . Sometimes I would take my Dad on the back , who was overjoyed with it.

On the 6th August 1954, our first child was born Jennifer Susan Thomas. It was a new experience , Mums water Broke but it was some time before we took her to Guys Hospital for the Birth.

We decided that now we had started a family we decided to sell the bantam and we bought a 1938 Morris8. The first problem was to learn to drive and pass my test , my Uncle George was a great help with this .He would come out with me and teach me how to drive since he has been a lorry driver for more years than in could imagine, in fact before the war he would take me on some of his trips and I distinctly remember going to Bristol and staying overnight.

Happy to say that I passed my test on my first go although when I went to pull out from the road, with the tester at my side,and at that time you signaled with you arm out of the window I tried to do this with the window closed ,,,,not very funny…!

During all this time I went back to study for 2 years in the Borough Poly to enhance my City & And; Guilds Certificate  Full Technological Certificate to a Higher National Certificate.

We planned to stay in Deverall St for about 2/3 years and about that time we had the opportunity to buy a house in Three Bridges, East Sussex, to which Mums Mum Catherine saw an advert in the paper for new houses in Three Bridges. So with not much money and barely any possessions we set off to investigate and there and then we put down our deposit of £125 and thats how we came to move to  126 St Mary’s Drive, a small 3 bedroom semi-detached house. It had a small fridge and a Goblin washing machine in the kitchen that came with the house. on our arrival there was Milk ,Bread and Eggs to give us a start, although the front gardens and pavement was not finished.

It is now 1956

I continued working at A&C Ltd travelling to and from from London Bridge Station  or Victoria if I was out on a site, to Three Bridges, it took about one hour  dependent on the time of departure.

In the evenings coming into Three Bridges the train went on a bridge that went over St Mary’s Drive and by leaning out of the window I could see our house and the family knew I was on my way home.

At this time of my life I decide to continue with my academic studies to Endorse my Higher National Certificate on a two year course. The course was available at Brighton Technical College and  the only practical way  to do this was to stay on the train at Three Bridges and continue on to Brighton to attend the course and then get the train back home.

This college has since become a University.

Life at A & C ltd which was a private company began to change and this brought about a change of direction in my career.

Posted by: thomlift | March 27, 2009

Career

I would like to take you back a few years to show how my at working life changed. you may remember that I started at Aldous & Campbell Ltd  in 1944 and my apprenticeship began in 1945 then in 1950 to 1952 I was doing my bit for the King and Country in the RAF albeit I was on special duties. 1952 saw me back at A&C Ltd to continue as a draughtsman and during this time more apprentices came to work in the drawing office. I became a section leader Draughtsman with two other draughtsman and a site surveyor and  taking charge of  after all of the Hand Lift Orders which were mainly for Public Houses. We would produce the drawings sent these out to the Architect or Brewery, and finally arranging delivery to site and the installation. This operation was like a small company within A&C. At the same time as this was going on I was given the opportunity to design a new hydraulic valve for our Hydraulic lifts. This was based on a american valve Mr Halliday had come across with some basic information he got from an article in a the Elevator World Journal. This put me in direct contact with Mr Halliday who watch at the progress of this design, needless to say we went into production and this gave the company an advantage over others in the field of hydraulic passenger lifts.

Mr John Halliday was a Director and  Chief Engineer  for the company, he had a draughtsman who was studying on an Electrical Course working for him and in 1958 decided for some reason to leave the company. I asked Mr Halliday if I could work for him and because of our working together on the new valve he decided to give me a chance.

I had a drawing board in the office with Mr halliday and immediately began producing all the electrical schematic drawings on Linen that customers required in particular the MOW ( Ministry of Works) for whom we received a large number of orders over the years. This work put me in touch with the installation guys who would come to me with queries especially when Mr Halliday was out of the office to keep on his best side. This Developed further with me going out to sites to help with any problems and sometimes being on site at the time of testing the lifts with Percy Robinson with whom I became a close friend.

At about this time Geof Meering was now a salesman for the company and through him we were getting orders for Electric Passenger lifts which was more demanding technically which brought me more and more out on the sites for solving problems with the installation and final tuning and testing.I was now the Assistant to the Chief Engineer.

1961 brought about a takeover of A&C by the LHP ( London Hydraulic Power Co) who also had a small lift company called Hypower who only made Hydraulic Lifts. So we now became Aldous Campbell Hypower. Mr Halliday was now a joint Chief Engineer with Bob Davis and my role was a Site Supervisor with Percy Robinson ( Ex tester) and Percy Davis the site supervisor for Hypower. This was not a good solution for us and after about 6 to 12 months I was to take charge of the office and the other two would go out to the sites since the lived in London and had company cars. So my role was now Site Co-ordinator. Things were not going too well for the new company and the LHP employed Mr White a consultant to take over the running of the company and in 1964 he put me in charge of Planning and all the buying for the company. The planning consisted of a very large board about 4ft High and about 12 ft long which was divided  horizontally in to 3 sections. The first was for the Drawing Office the second was the factory and the third for installation. Every job had a small card and these were put on the board with times that they should start and leave on this planning board. My job was to control this board and make sure the sections met there target dates. The company now known as ACH Ltd was running two factories , one in Hatfield’s near Vauxhall bridge and the other was the  A&C ltd factory in Great Dover Street. In 1966 Mr White made me Works Manager of the A&C Ltd factory reporting to Mr Albert Heron who worked for the LHP Co, he had very little knowledge of production so he relied on me but he took any flack that was coming from Mr White to protect us….we became very good friends and to this day we send each other Christmas cards. The factory in Hatfield’s was to become a general engineering factory with all the lifts coming from Great Dover Street. Mr White then decide to move the Great Dover street works into Hatfield’s. I should say here that I learnt quite a lot from Mr White during his time with us.

Before I forget I should give you some background about the LHP Co, Before the days of electricity the LHP set up 5 pumping stations around london which pumped water into about 200 miles of pipes called the mains at a pressure of 700 PSI. The water was taken from the Thames through filters and the pumps were driven by steam engines using coal delivered on barges from the river. This was used for lifts, Dock Cranes, shunting of railway engines, vacuum cleaning in major hotels , almost anything that required power. These installations were fitted with water meters and the users were charged by the gallon. This business was very lucrative and the LHP became very rich with lots of cash. with the advent of electricity the steam engines were substituted by electric motors however the demand for water got less and less until finally in 1978 the pumps ceased to operate. In the meantime the LHP moved in other areas of business hence the purchase of A&C Ltd.

This takes my story on to a new  level. In around 1966 the LHP purchased another lift Company called Etchells Congdon and Muir in Manchester who designed ,made, and installed electric lifts. Mr white then invited me to become Chief engineer ( Lifts) in the ECM office in Manchester and the company was called GHP Lifts. Sorry forgot to mention that GHP  (General Hydraulic Power Co) was the holding company for the London Hydraulic Power Co and the Manchester hydraulic Co This was a very big upheaval for me and the family. However another big change was on the horizon…. about 1967 Hammond & Champness Co Ltd purchased GHP Lifts and within 3 months I was working back in London at Gnome House Blackhorse Road with the family living in Altringham. Mr Brian Johnson who was the Production Director put me on a special project which was to take a design of Homelift produced by the Dover Elevator Co in the USA  and make it suitable for the UK market. At this time H&C had a technical liaison with Dover Elevators which made this possible. This task took me about 6/8 months including a visit to memphis to discuss major parts of their design.

It was now the christmas holiday and I was back at Altringham when the telephone rang ….Oh it was Mr Brian Johnson…..I thought he rang to wish us all a happy Christmas…alas NO ….George when you come back from holiday I want you to take over Production Control…..end of phone call.

On arrival at Gnome House I entered the area occupied by production Control and freddy kent called out over here George this is your office. It then transpired that the person who was in charge of production Control had no knowledge of Lifts. So into the breach I stepped and found myself in the middle of utter chaos and this gave me many a sleepless night. I wont go into detail but it took some time to make any headway…..Freddy Kent was most helpful and finally he took over from me.

I was on the move again and was now working in St Johns Street office as Repair Manager reporting to Ron Marshall the london Regional Manager, organising repair work to lifts with 3 supervisors who organised the workmen who carried out the work on the lifts. The Directors of H&C  now decided that supplying the repair work from Gnome House got in the way of making new Lifts and and the Service and Repair business was not getting the service it required. This brought about having a repair factory and this would be installed in  premises in Seckford Street just off St Johns Street. Who was the person they chose to run it …..you guessed it ME…so Ron Marshall set about finding a replacement for me. The week before this all happened I interviewed Ron Starbuck ,who worked for OTIS and knew Ron Marshall,for the position of repair supervisor  and Ron Marshall suggested that we got Ron Starbuck back and offer him my job.This we did and Ron Starbuck went on eventually to become a Regional Manager. So here I was the Repair Factory Manager reporting again to Mr Brian Johnson……I had to poach staff from anywhere in the company to come and work for me and we built up a very loyal and hard working team producing mechanical parts and electrical controllers,  we are looking at  around 1968/1976.

During this time the LHP had decided to stop pumping water and gave their customers about 12 months notice of this effect. I was then asked to attend a meeting with members of the LHP which included Mr White ( please note that Mr White was employed by the LHP as a consultant otherwise known as a ships doctor) and H&C. I was asked to set up a team in Seckford Street to produce equipment that could operate the hydraulic lifts that where driven at that time by the LHP mains water. This operation brought Len Adlard at my request from Gnome to Seckford Street to produce the estimates for the equipment needed to make the changeover from mains water to operating with a water pump on site. He did a splendid job and was grateful for taking him out of a bad situation at Gnome House to one which were he was his own boss working for me.  This was a complete turn around from my early days in A&C.

I was off again about 1976/7 to Gnome House to take on the Design dept as Application & Development Manager with a task of producing a new range of lifts for the retirement homes market working with Harry Cork and Henry Pattle amongst others. Our first product was a lift called The Warden which was mainly for old persons residential homes and this design incorporated the making of hydraulic rams for the first time for many years at Gnome House . Later this product was so popular that we enhanced the range to become The Windsor which was suitable for Hotels and the like with the design flexible enough to be expanded from being only for 8 persons to 10 and 13 person lifts.

In 1981  my role expanded to Executive Manager Engineering  and in 1982 I joined the Board of Directors as Engineering Director.l

Posted by: thomlift | March 26, 2009

FAMILY LIFE

I started writing somewhat about our marriage in the previous chapters and begin again after we moved from London to Three Bridges just outside Crawley in East Sussex
We settled in our newly purchased house at 126 Willowtree Road just the two of us and our daughter Jennifer, it was so different to living in two rooms in the heart of South London although the travelling was about 1 hour from door to door but it did give me time for reflection

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