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

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Responses

  1. I for many years worked for hypower at Grosvenor road pimlico as a welder and cutting out mains.

    • Hi
      Nice to hear from you
      I get a Christmas card every year from Albert Heron
      Have a nice Christmas
      George

  2. hello george,,iidon,tsuppose you remember me i worked as an apprentice with Jim Cleary in the electrical department at a&c from 1956 to1963

    • Hi
      You are correct I can’t recall your name however it is nice to hear from you
      You must tell me about your own career
      What happen to you after 1963
      Those days at A&C were the best days for me
      Regards……..George

      • Hello George those days at A&C hold fond memories for me too i left A&C in 1962and joined stannah lifts who iworked with for ten years.,,, we then purchased ahouse in oxfordshire in 1972,where we are still living. I joined Otis plc in april 1972and worked for them until retiring in 2005 after one year of retirement ireceived a call from Apollo lifts asking me if iwould like to look after the lifts at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford , had the interview and started the following week. iworked there for three years and then retired for good. niceto hear from you George regards Bill


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