The Paint Industry throughout has a very fascinating history and the Midlands has certainly played its part.
Mr W.G. Postans was a very early member of the Birmingham paint industry. This story will endeavour to show what an important part Postans Limited has played since Mr Postans started up.
Apart from the Midlands the main centres of the British paint industry are in Bristol, Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull and London. So why did the Midlands become so important?
Birmingham can claim a long history in the manipulation of metals from buttons and buckles to metal toys (in the early days) and more recently of course, to a very industrial area, not forgetting the motor car! The Industrial Revolution had a remarkable influence on Birmingham.
Between 1760 and 1801 the population of Birmingham increased from about 35,000 to nearly 70,000. Builders were busily engaged in extending the town to provide for the constant growth in population. In 1829 the "Gazette" of houses and building materials published an article in which a writer mentioned "the rapid manner in which this town has been extended on all sides within the last few years" - he gave a particular instance - "a populous district is now forming between Ashted and Aston Road, to be called Duddeston Town and a main street named Great Lister Street has been laid open from Gosta Green to the Saltley or Halfpenny Gate, thereby opening a direct road from the centre of the town to Castle Bromwich, Coleshill etc."
At this time the poet Freeth went further and ventured a prophecy which has really come true:
"Birmingham must (whose fame shall sing) Second in size to London be; Every month fresh houses spring, Every year new streets we see."
It is fortunate that the Midlands area was very well served by an excellent canal system. Thus there were waterway links to Liverpool, Manchester, Worcester (thence by the River Severn to Bristol) and to Oxford from which London was a relatively short distance by the River Thames.
Postans Limited (as it is now known), until 1981 was one of the oldest privately owned paint companies in the Midlands and probably in the UK. The earliest document it possesses is a recipe book written by a Mr George Postans in 1829. In this book he refers to the actual manufacture of picture varnish stating that they had used a certain method of making picture varnish for the previous thirty years, and a Mr Perkins had used this method of varnish manufacture for twenty years prior to this. The year 1779 is therefore a semi-tangible link with the inception of the company. It was a further twelve years before Mozart died and a further twenty-six years to the Battle of Trafalgar.
Mr Postans was a varnish maker. He was a wealthy man by 1838 because he had £2,998 in his current account at the bank. George Postans eventually wanted to retire and the area he had selected for his retirement was Edgbaston, a rather exclusive area of Birmingham at the time, full of retired vicars, lawyers and professional men. George Postans did not want his name to continue in the company, as it was not acceptable to have one's name emblazoned on the side of a tradesman's vehicle or cart and live in a posh area. However, one of the clauses that was agreed when he sold the business was that his name, which was that of a fine varnish maker, should continue. The company passed through various hands and towards the end of the century the Morley Brothers - there were three of them - who ground pigments in oil, became involved. This was a natural evolution for the company in so far as when one had one's house painted the man used to arrive with Mr Postans' varnish in one hand and the Morley Brothers' pigments ground in oil in the other. The new company became known as Postans and Morley Brothers Limited. George Morley was the only brother who married.
The recipe book referred to is to this day kept safely locked away in the showcase in the Company's reception area. It is a small leather bound volume and makes interesting reading. The notebook gives a revealing picture of business conditions in the early part of the nineteenth century. George Postans records that he paid £15. 19s. to a Mr Hopwood for erecting a chimney, plus 18 shillings for drinks for the men. Another account shows that he paid a painter 14 shilling for four days work, with 3s. 6d. for drinks for the men. On 13 October 1829, George Postans sold to a Mr Johnson of Little Park Street, Coventry, two gallons of varnish as 32s. 0d. a gallon for coachwork of gigs. George also got himself involved at the time of the passing of the Act setting up Imperial Measures. He wrote complaining bitterly of the interference of the government which was insisting upon his selling nearly one-fifth of a gallon more for the same price as before. This was when the Imperial gallon took the place of the old wine measure.
Mainly, George Postans served the wide market for industrial paints and varnishes which was to be found in the Midlands area. He occupied premises at No. 19, Lionel Street (a Mr Thornley of Thornley & Knight fame was at Nos. 5 & 6). It appears that in those days that area was very popular for the varnish makers.
George Postans subsequently sold out to a Mr Williams who bought the business for his two sons. The business of Morley Brothers was founded in the early 1890's with premises in Goodrich Street, Nechells. Their business was similar in character to that of Postans and involved with the making of colours in oils. Early in 1907 a fire occurred at the factory and the Goodrich Street premises were completely destroyed. Morley Brothers took over the business of Postans and acquired the present site. The main entrance in those days, and for many years to come, was in Trevor Street. The premises were bought from the old Birmingham Midland Motor Omnibus Company, having been erected by them as stables for the horse-trams operating on the Nechells route. Until quite recently there were still traces of the cobbled floors of the stables and also small hay mangers and harness racks on some of the older walls. The Granary building still exists which needs no further explanation.
In 1901 Mr Sam Rogers joined the company. He was a kind, unflappable gentleman who played a very important role in the progress of the company for very many years. The writer (who worked with Sam in connection with the motor trade later on) feels the next part of this story should be left in Sam's own words. He wrote the following in 1950:-
I joined the Company at the age of 16 on October 1 1901. It was then known as J.T. & G.F. Morley and the works were in Goodrich Street. The works staff before I joined was comprised of 3 men only, these being:-
Mr Johnson Paint Maker Mr Webb Caretaker & Packer Mr Webb Jnr. Gen. Assistant & Carter
The Goods were delivered in those days by horse and float. Mr G.F. Morley directed the office and works, Mr J.T. Morley was the outside representative.
I found the staff very friendly and I was put to work under Mr Johnson who taught me very thoroughly how to mix and grind the various classes of paint which were in use at the time. These were mostly colours in oil in paste form. I was about 6 months getting used to the mixing and learning the names of the various pigments used in their manufacture; then I was allowed to work on my own, the final passing being made by Mr Johnson before despatch.
About May 1902 I started making putty in the Edge Runner. I found this to be fairly heavy work but soon got the knack of handling the mill and was soon making 5 to 6 tons per week. For this purpose the whiting came in sacks dried and ready for use, but each sack had to be pulled to a storeroom above, one bag at a time with a rope pulley, and then stacked. This was one of the roughest jobs Mr Johnson and I tackled and I was very pleased when the time came to hand this job over to another assistant at the end of the year.
These were the days of Master Painters who preferred to do their own mixing and their methods were kept very secret.
Most of the orders could be cleared off during the mornings so the afternoons were spent on cleaning out and repairing the returned kegs and cans ready for future orders.
Our machinery consisted of two 4ft Pug Mills, two small Cone Mills and one 6ft Edge Runner "Torrance".
Towards the end of 1902 I was allowed to spend two or three afternoons each week in the Laboratory with Mr Morley and by carefully watching and helping him and studying his books on Paint and Varnish manufacture, and with the aid of chemistry classes I soon became quite efficient in making and matching samples and at the end of 1903 Mr Morley handed this part of the Laboratory work to me entirely, so I was able to spend my mornings in the Mill and the afternoons in the Lab experimenting and making improvements to our paints.
Mr Morley then concentrated on Varnish making as for a few months the small running pots were kept very busy. The trials were quite successful and by the end of 1904 we felt confident that we could face up to real production when the opportunity arose.
Meanwhile, our staff was increasing to meet the growing orders.
We had turned our attention to fine enamel making which so far as we were concerned was in its infancy. We were soon in a position to offer first class Enamels and Varnish Paints to the Decorating and Industrial trades. All this being possible with only two Cone Mills which were kept constantly running.
Early in 1905 Mr Morley decided we were now in a position to manufacture some of our own Varnishes, so he installed a Three Hole Varnish Making Plant and Oil Boiler and by good fortune made an arrangement with an expert Chemist and Varnish Maker "Mr Remington" to give me instruction and help in this department, which met with great success; for after a while I was able to produce quite satisfactory long and short Oil Varnishes which were quite an asset, for we had up to this time been buying all our Varnishes and terebines from outside sources.
Mr Morley installed a number of 500 gallon tanks for storing same, and I proceeded to fill up with the various qualities of Oak Varnish and Gold Size which were being called for. At the same time it was decided that none should be sold till it had matured for 12 months and as soon as possible we would increase our stocks so that all Varnish would be matured at least two years before sale and this has always been our aim.
Now this department was working smoothly Mr Morley turned his attention to the manufacture of Chromes, Brunswick Greens and Prussian Blues, which we had already produced in the Laboratory, where many hours had been spent and the best methods decided upon, but we found that the plant required was too large to be installed on the ground floor and there was no room for extension so he built up another storey round the works and putting a cement roof over the offices, he installed the mixing plant and presses and pumps here, storing the chemicals and acid nearby on the same floor. We put Webb Jnr. as assistant and we were soon producing all the Chromes and Brunswick Green and Prussian Blue we were in need of. We were able to build up quite a large outside trade for these colours. Another assistant was put with Webb and we left them to it.
We were now in 1906 and we were receiving many enquiries for tins of Ready Mixed Paints for the shop trade. This attracted our attention so we put on the market a good quality paint in 1 lb and 2 lb tins calling it "Goodrick Brand". The trade mark being a round hayrick, a photograph of which Mr Morley took and had reproduced on all the tin containers. The orders rolled in from all over the Midland Counties so numerously that we had to increase our staff at once. We put 4 or 5 girls into this department and a very satisfactory trade was built up and we were able to make good use of a great quantity of our own manufactured pigments and varnishes.
So we went on improving and enlarging things until a disastrous fire started with sparks from a passing Railway engine at 8.30 a.m. early in 1907 entirely gutting the factory and plant. So for a short time we were at a stand still. We installed as quickly as possible a Triple Roll Mill in an adjoining garden which we managed to secure, and for some months we mixed our colours in oil like mortar on a cement floor finishing by grinding through the rollers. By this means and with very much help from other friendly firms in the trade we managed to hold our customers securely.
One interesting point may be mentioned in passing. Mr G.F. Morley had many friends and customers in the Nuneaton and Leicester districts and at the beginning of each month he took a three or four day journey to see them all. He travelled by road in his own smart Hansom Cab driven by one of our own men in uniform. Mr Morley would be dressed in his silk topper and frock cost and he always had a great send off from the works and a welcome when he returned, always with a big sheaf of orders which would keep us busy for days. Friendly firms also kept us supplied with putty and Patent Drills for which we had a large sale at this time.
The management were all the time looking for new premises. Many places were inspected and it was not long before the present site in Trevor Street which had been a Bus Depot and Stables, was occupied and they soon started installing their new and better plant ready for a fresh start to be made.
Here we had a Torrance Combination Mill, two Triple Rolls and three Pug Mills in one shop and an Edge Runner Mill for putty in another with plenty of overhead storage for whiting etc. A number of Cone Mills were also installed so we were able to go all out for larger and better orders for all classes of paints and enamels.
We secured a capable man to put in charge of the paint making with one or two assistants and I was soon able to carry on with the varnish making in a new plant and so replenish our lost stock.
Towards the end of 1908 a new Director arrived, Mr Magrath, a well-known paint and varnish expert. He was a very skilled varnish and enamel maker with whom came many new ideas and formulas and this opened up many new sources of output and my time was very urgently needed in the Laboratory to keep pace with ever growing new enquiries and so Mr Magrath decided to take over the varnish making to release me. He then produced may classes of varnish quite new to me which became a great asset to the business giving me greater scope than ever before.
A few months after this in July 1909 an Agreement was entered with Postans the well know varnish makers of Lionel Street to amalgamate. This was successfully carried through and all their staff were transferred to our works in Trevor Street and the firm became known as Postans & Morley Bros. Limited.
New Varnish making plant was soon installed which included preparing fire holes, a fume stack and Oil Boilers and very early in 1910 everything was working smoothly. Mr Magrath taking charge of varnish making and spending most of his time with the new staff and getting a thorough knowledge of their manufacture, while I in the laboratory was testing everyone out so that I should be in a position to compete with all enquiries. I now took control of the Works and Laboratory and found my hands full, for with Postans business came many enquiries for enamels which were quite new such as Stoving Bedstead Enamels and Coffin Furniture and many industrial types I had not encountered before. I found one plant was much too small to cope with this sudden expansion of business, so I had to install some more triple roll mills and another Torrance Combination Mill. We were then in a position to cope with the orders by increasing our staff.
We were at this time (1910) receiving many enquiries for flat oil paints in white and colours, so we produced a very satisfactory quality which was put on the market under the trade name of "Coverall". This took the trade by storm, Chiefly because of its covering power and it became one of the best known flat paints in the Country and has now in 1950, with improved methods of production, a greater prestige than ever. As business prospered many samples of Air Drying and Stoving Enamels were asked for. This often meant late nights in the Laboratory testing and matching to produce a satisfactory finish to submit for approval, but the ensuing orders which often followed seem to make the time spent on them well worth while, for when we secured such orders we generally managed to give satisfaction and by giving service held our customers' attention and were assured of further enquiries when the occasion arose.
We had all the time been making putty, but in the background. In 1912 the Directors decided to go all out for the local trade so we installed a further 6ft Edge Runner and in the course of the next twelve months we were turning out between 10 and 15 tons of putty per week. To reach this figure we put in a Drying Plant for the whiting to ensure a low water content so that the putty would not harden when stored in kegs. This was a great improvement.
In 1914 the First World War broke out and we found ourselves brought into the Government Scheme and most of our time was given up to the supply of ammunition paints into which all departments joined and worked together. When I was called up to the 'Colours' in 1917 Mr Morley took my place in the Mill and was for the duration working with the men producing these paints.
On receiving my discharge from the Army in 1919 I returned to the Works and found the trade very poor and for the next twelve months it was a constant fight to secure enough orders to keep the staff busy.
In 1920 things eased a little and we began to regain our position in the trade. The public began to enquire for a water paint to decorate the inside of their houses and we put on the market a Dry Distemper packed into 1 lb and 31/2 lb packets in fifty shades. We gave it the trade name of "Decorall Dry Distemper". It was very favourably received, so we installed two Ball Mills, and with the use of an Edge Runner Mill also for mixing, we kept this Department busy for a few years until wallpaper once again returned to fashion, then this trade quietly dwindled and finally disappeared.
The Management at this time (1919) decided to increase our Dry Colour trade, so I enlarged the plant for making Chromes, Brunswick Greens etc. I secured the services of an expert Colour Maker and two more assistants. Very soon the stocks and sales of these and also of Red Lake and Vermillionettes became of major importance to the company.
We had three or four years success in the Department then we finally closed it down because we found that it was difficult to compete with the large Colour Makers who were then springing up all over the Country. This was at the end of 1992.
At this time the Motor Trade began to increase rapidly and a quicker way to paint cars than by brushing was being sought after. Flowing Enamel was suggested and so for a few weeks I was engaged in the Laboratory producing an enamel for satisfactory finish which would give the desired results, and at last this was put on the market. However, this finish required light stoving and proved to be still too slow to output. At this time (1922) Cellulose finishes were introduced into this Country from America, and being such a quick drying enamel, it was taken up by the Car Industry almost at once. The American manufacturers put it on the market first and it brought a startling improvement in speed of application and clarity of finish that enquiries soon began to arrive for this. It was handed over to me with instructions to try my hand at it to see if we could break into the trade.
I spent many weeks in the Laboratory formulating recipes and testing them in many ways till at last I was fairly satisfied with the results and secured some good trial orders. Many faults were found in the practical application of these early cellulose enamels, all of which had to be overcome. As this was a new line in this Country, very little information was available to help me. Mr Knight came to us at this time as my assistant, the amount of work being too heavy for me, and between us we got down to the work in real earnest, and proved by results that we would offer as good a quality as anyone.
I had a new Department built and fitted up with Twin Rolls for grinding the pigments, also a couple of Lange Centrifugal machines, the mixing being done by hand for the first year or two, but finally I had mechanical mixers fitted into the Shop. Our efforts were well rewarded. The Department was, and still is, kept fully occupied and the many thousands of gallons turned out annually right up to the present day when we have greatly improved our methods of grinding and mixing shows that we have kept up to date with any improvements.
A Brushing Celamel for touching up cars was also put on the market in 1928. This has to be made much slower drying than the spraying quality. We made it in a number of popular shades, but the Black was an outstanding success. Brushing Black Cellulose was also put into small tins with a brush fixed in the lid and we registered it under the name of "Dabiton". It was a very handy size for touching up the edges of the wings, and other parts of a car which may have got chipped. During the last year we were unable to get the tins so it was off the market for a few years. We have recently been able to obtain this class of container and the sales are speedily increasing again. There has been great advancement in the Paint Trade since 1901 when I started. At that time there was very little technical literature available to me dealing with Paint and Varnish trade; as far as I remember only the Oil & Colour Trade Journal. What literature there was, was very sketchy when compared with today's volumes. Of course our Trade then only consisted of Copal Oak Varnishes, colours ground on Linseed Oil, Putty and cheaper grades of Varnish Paints, whereas today the requirements of the Decorating and Industrial trades are too numerous and varied to mention and still increasing with the growth of Synthetic Finishes.
For the Youth starting in the Paint and Varnish Trade today there is a much greater opportunity for advancement. There are special classes for him to attend at the Technical College where he can obtain a thorough technical and practical knowledge of the trade. Also numerous books written by the best known Chemists have been published which deal with all branches of the business. A number of Technical Journals are published periodically which deal with new and up to date materials and their application, giving practical hints on their advantages and uses."
The Cellulose Trade and its associated Chip Dispersion side played a very important part in the general expansion of Postans. More about this later.
Referring to Sam's mention of the introduction of Cellulose Lacquers for the Motor Trade one building today (1989) remains which as a definite link. The building is on the immediate right inside the Trevor Street gates and was always known as "The Demonstration Shop". It was in there that the "new" cellulose lacquers were tried out. This was really the start of Postans introduction to the motor trade.
In 1927 Mr George F. Birtles who had known George Morley for many years, acquired a shareholding in Postans. Alan Birtles, son of George joined the company in the same year - and more about him later on.
George Birtles was a well known gentleman in the Midlands. He was a great sportsman, playing tennis for England and captained the Warwickshire County Tennis Team for many years. He was a friend of Mr Herbert Austin (later Lord Austin). This will also fit into the story associated with the motor trade. George and Alan Birtles were very much of the "old type" salesmen. In his younger days George Birtles was a very enthusiastic representative and was endeavouring to establish business with a drysalter in Broad Street. He found it difficult to get to see the owner of the shop, so he had to think of a way round this. Sometime later he went into the shop and asked to see the owner. "He's too busy to see you today" said the assistant. George cheerfully replied "I'll wait then" and proceeded to unroll a package he had brought with him. "What's that?" asked the assistant. "It is a tent" said George as he continued to secure its guy rope to a putty keg. The assistant got the owner out to see George, and an order was placed!
By this time the company was known as Postans, Morley Bros. & Birtles Limited and traded as such until 1946 when it was decided to call the company Postans Limited. The old name took so much time to write out on cheques etc., that it was decided to go back to known roots although no member of the Postans family had been on the Board for over a century.
In 1938 Mr George Morley was succeeded by his two sons Owen and Ewart. Owen carried the executive responsibility of Chairman and Managing Director for 28 years and Ewart was mainly responsible for purchasing. Ewart was also given the responsibility for arranging the training of new youngsters coming into the company which as this time went on proved to be valuable - not only to Postans Limited but to other companies in the industry, Owen Morley's son Marcus joined the company in 1955 and took over from his father as Managing Director in 1966. Ewart unfortunately died suddenly in 1959. He had spent a very pleasant evening at the theatre and then came home and died early the next morning. His son Peter joined the company and ultimately took over the responsibility of purchasing.
There is an interesting reference to Mr Owen Morley among the memorabilia associated with the company. In the late 1930's he took the part of Don Alfonso, an old philosopher, in a production of Cossi Fan Tutte put on by the North Warwickshire Light Opera Company!
The growth of Postans Limited since the mid 1930's has been very substantial. The First World War was a difficult time for Postans & Morley Brothers. Although operating at that time on a much reduced scale, when peace came the company was ready to play its part in the enormous technical developments of the paint industry. Although small in size and number of people employed, it did its best to keep pace with the changing patterns of surface coatings generally.
Apart from the long association with the Austin Motor Company and a relatively small industrial paint turnover, up to the mid 1950's the company was known throughout the Midlands and other areas as manufacturers of high class decorative paints. Trade names were established during this period and lasted for many years. Morley's Rubber Based Distemper (it had to be thinned with Morley's Petrifying Liquid); Postans WYTEVER Leadless Paint; Stainamel Undercoating and Finishing; Coveral; Trevorgloss and Quicksynth Enamel are just a few. A little later on a very good decorative trade was established in South Wales where Trevorgloss paints (Named after Trevor Street incidentally) went very well. One of the company's long serving representatives, Bowen Richards, was not a Welshman but his name went down well in Wales for many years.
During this period the company made most of the varnishes used in the paints. The Varnish Kitchen was situated in the Granary area and for many years under the control of Bill Boster. It was a most interesting craft with many of the "special" operations being kept quite secretly by the gaffer and/or the actual operator.
Copal varnishes and Gold sizes were the mainstays and were not without hazard in the making. In the Varnish Kitchen in those days there were three set pots (i.e. static) heated by coke fires, and four or five mobile pots which were held in wheeled cradles - also heated over coke fires. Certain varnishes which contained tung oil had to be cooled suddenly so these were made in the mobile pots. At the correct time (established by the operator and his expertise) he would cradle the pot away from the fire and literally dash outside where the pot would be pushed up to half its height into a concrete vat which had an inclined entrance.
On earlier days of varnish making Wilson Neil, an early writer on the subject, observed that "Whenever the maker is beginning to pour, the assistant stands ready with a thick piece of old carpet without holes and sufficiently large to cover the mouth of the boiling pot, should it catch fire during the pouring, which will sometimes happen. If it should catch fire, let the assistant throw the piece of carpet over the blazing pot, holding it down all round the edges." This may sound a little far fetched to present day readers - but a wet sack sometimes came to the assistance in Postans Varnish Kitchen. On a matter of local history on this subject, Mr Edward Thornley son of the founder of Thornley & Knight Ltd., (and very good friends of Postans Ltd.) was burnt to death at the early age of 33 while making varnish.
In the mid 1930's the company pioneered the development of high viscosity dispersions in this country. This was to have far reaching effects, for this part of the business grew and grew and by the mid 1970's was 25% of total turnover. A little more will be written on this subject later.
The coming of World War Two involved a complete disruption of the sales and manufacturing patterns of the Company's work. Coupled with its close association with the Austin Motor Company a keen interest was taken in the development of anti-gas paint. In this field the Company achieved considerable technical success and with all the associated testing and equipment required for same, definitely helped to maintain, develop and improve its technical organisation. By the end of the war the Company was technically better equipped and had gained a lot of experience in large scale production and both these faculties were intensified in years to come. 1947 was the beginning of a new era.
The company began to increase its technical staff, and office and sales staff gradually grew. At that time there was Sam Rogers as the Production Manager with Stan Knight as his assistant. Stan also took a great part in the development of the high viscosity dispersions which were coming along well. The day to day paint production was managed by Dennis Upton and Peter Bull was the mainstay of the Quality Control for paints. In the offices Frank Jones did the buying with Mr Renowden, and Eric Newcombe running salaries, wages and accounts. John Evans was Sales Manager and John Turner & Stan Day ran the order office. Miss Allington (Mrs T.C. Baker) was Owen Morley's secretary and Emily Henman & Nora Service were the senior ones in the general office. There was the Comptometer operator and a few juniors, and of course the telephone operator/receptionist.
In the Works Paint Shop No. 1 was run by Chris Tilt; Paint Shop No. 2 by Cliff Rainey; the Cellulose Shop by Syd Simmons and the High Viscosity Dispersion (or Chip Shop as it was known) by Harry Abbott. The "Bottom Shop" which was built in 1947 (and is now one of the main Stores associated with Powder Coatings) was the shop where Vic Chippendale organised his manufacturing of the large volume paints. "Bob" Jones (and later his son Albert) were the people who actually sent all products on their way from the Despatch Department. Les Copson was the Inwards Goods Foreman. There were of course, many other fine people who took part. George Roberts was everywhere looking after general factory maintenance in his own inimitable style!
In 1947 Owen Morley appointed Mr M.H.M. Arnold as his new Technical Manager. He was not a "paint man" but a very well qualified Chemist, his first brief being to develop resins and a plant in which to make them. In February 1948 Mr Arnold appointed H.J. Clarke as a general technical assistant to help with resin development.
Concurrently the Resin Plant was being installed and by 1950 was fully operational. However on 28th September 1950 whilst a phenolic resin was being cooked with linseed oil pressure developed in the reaction kettle. Fumes leaked from a light-glass gasket which blew out and the fumes ignited. The fire did considerable auxiliary damage but nothing major to the main plant operation. The plant was essentially operational again by the end of 1950.
The new Paint Development Laboratory did not get off to a very good start on the management side. Two appointments had been made but just did not work out. Roy Arnold and Harry Griffiths had joined by now as apprentices and in conjunction with a few others were beginning to spend some of their time in different departments of the company.
As mentioned earlier on, Ewart Morley was the one to look after the new trainees and he soon decided that H.J. Clarke was the best one to actually look after the running of the trainees programme!
Les Seaborne had also joined the company as a resin development chemist. In fact he did develop many resins which carried on being used for many years to come.
In the meantime the Paint Development Laboratory was without a manager. M.H.M. Arnold asked H.J. Clarke to help out in this new section and to cut a long story short, that is how Hal Clarke "got into" paint!
With the growth of the motor industry and the subsequent post-war growth of general industries in the Midlands the decision had already been made to develop and expand the sales of industrial paints. This was the real beginning of a very exciting period for the Company for many years to come. It was a very competitive market so rigid control of marketing, technical development and production was very important.
The experience gained from the formulations of resins and subsequent paints for motor car finishing coupled with the modern test equipment which had been purchased helped considerably in the development of many other classes of products.
The company developed its Quickstove range of industrial stoving enamels and primers together with a range of stoving hammer finishes, polychromatic stoving enamels and wrinkle finishes.
There was also a large demand for stoving finishes and primers for customers' specific requirements. These were tailor made in a variety of colours and often made to meet customers' own test specifications. This brought the company into the market with epoxide and acrylic resin based products formulated for special purposes.
The market place grew and grew and included paints for application to light fittings, castors, prams and pushchairs, toys, partitioning, office equipment, vending machines, computer cabinets, fireguards, telecommunication equipment, lawn mowers, wheelbarrows, central heating pumps, cookers, bicycles, invalid chairs, hospital beds - and many more! It was most interesting to go out and see how ones products were actually being used and how hey enhanced the general appearance of so many items.
The airdrying paint market also expanded rapidly and required a new range of products to suit the many different needs. Type 8 Emulsion Paint was well established. Paint for pallets, caravan trailers, snow-ploughs, shipping containers, exhaust systems, structural steelwork and factory maintenance are just a few to mention. The development of a range of etch primers was very important during this time. One varnish made for beds had the intriguing name of "anti-squeak lacquer"!
The industrial cellulose lacquer market also expanded rapidly and required a large range of new products to meet the changing demands. The woven fibre furniture trade in the Bridgwater area was very lively for many years. Commercial vehicle finishing, kitchen furniture, and of course there had to be a "touch-up" enamel for every car or van stoving finish.
While in the cellulose arena the machine tool trade must be mentioned as it played an important part. Postans had been involved with this section of industry for many years and supplied complete systems of primer, fillers and finishing lacquers for a large range of customers. Their requirements were always altering - as a new cutting oil or coolant was established it invariably required a change in the lacquer formulation. This ultimately brought the company into the polyurethane modified cellulose lacquer market which was to be established as the superior finish required to withstand the strict requirements for machine tool finishing.
The decorative paint side of the business was always being updated. For many years since the last war Postans had been quite strong in this market, with Corporations and to households direct through drysalters and the like and also through a chain of shops marketing in their own name. With the growth of these then new supermarket stores the household paint trade was virtually finished so it was decided to concentrate on decorative paints for large individual contracts for factory maintenance. This did include some very good contracts for certain government concerns and petrol station decoration. Postans had enjoyed its share of the decorative market but it was becoming obvious that it would not go on for ever. However, the company can claim to have been suppliers of paints to some very well known organisations. One very early contract was for "One Coat Station Paint" for the Great Western Railway - a very appropriate name for its use!
In the early 1950's Postans digressed from resin and paint manufacture in two fields. One associated with resin manufacture but the other nothing to do with paint. One of the major components in the manufacture of alkyd resins is phthalic anhydride. In the early 50's its demand was growing by the day. This seemed to be a good opportunity to attempt its manufacture by a new process. In 1951 the project was started up and after all the initial laboratory experimental work had been completed a pilot plant was set up in an area between The Granary and the old offices. Much effort was put into the project but it was disbanded in 1957. However, it did show the willingness of the company at that time to branch out with a new enterprise.
The other disgression involved ultrasonics and its use as an inhibitor to prevent the fouling of ships' bottoms by barnacles. The initial trails were carried out at Millbay Docks, Plymouth, where a transducer was fixed to metal plates and the whole being suspended below water. An ultrasonic generator housed ashore supplied the power source. Results were sufficiently encouraging for ship sea trials to be carried out. This was done over quite a long period starting with the old "Sir John Hawkins" at Plymouth and then with larger ships plying worldwide. The success or otherwise was measured by the ship's fuel consumption and visual checks on dry-docking. There is no doubt that in some cases some positive results were obtained. There were also abortive results. In 1956 this project was disbanded and passed over to Marconi International Marine Communications Ltd., with whom the company had been in contact for some time.
There was an article in The Times in April 1955 on this project subject.
Back to paints! In August 1957 Roger Hatfield joined the company as an apprentice and by this time there was a good strong nucleus of trainees carrying on with their day to day chores in all departments of the company and attending various technical colleges for further education in general and paint subjects.
During the 1950's the volume of car paints sold had grown considerably. The main sales of these paints was under the charge of Alan Birtles. He was a salesman who could discuss his business with the Managing Director of a company or over a pint with the Foreman at lunchtime. He eventually had an assistant Bert Latham who, up to that time, had been involved in general paint sales for Postans. He ultimately took over the day to day representation to the car trade on Alan's retirement.
Stoving car paints were being supplied by the late part of the 1950's to Austin, Morris and Fisher & Ludlow (Birmingham and Oxford). It was in 1958 that Postans were first involved in the application of paint by robot, and such colour names as Chelsea Grey and Farina Grey were very well established. This was an exciting period for the company, and the works, offices, inwards goods and despatch departments were really ticking. This part of the business was not without its troubles but the storms were weathered.
Air drying paints were also well established at Morris Commercial and Common Lane for commercial vehicles, and at Burmans for steering gear equipment.
Michael Arnold left the company in May 1958 and Owen Morley appointed Hal Clarke as Technical Manager.
The sales and office side had changed considerably with areas throughout the country being under the charge of area Sales Manager. Apart from Bowen Richards in Wales, there was George Underwood in the West Country (which included Bristol), John Moscrop and later Danny Gray in the North West, with a growing force being built up in the Midlands. Gradually more representatives were taken on as business was established or consolidated in the London area, East Anglia, Hampshire and elsewhere.
In February 1960 Roger Hatfield transferred to the Sales Department. His last technical job was the development of a very good High Lustre Wood Lacquer - and it was a very good product! It was also a project which was handled very correctly and involved yet again, new test methods.
Paint development and manufacture was not limited to car and industrial paints. Ministry of Supply (M.O.S.) specification paints were also very much to the fore throughout the 1950's. this was a good thing from the educational side in the testing of paints. Test equipment was purchased for the large variety of tests required. Application techniques (Spray Rooms etc.) had to be established which proved to be very useful in the future for testing generally and production of acceptable test panels. Contracts for M.O.S. paint were very large in some cases - Deep Bronze Green comes to mind where one contract for 180,000 gallons was placed. Not very profitable in itself but did help to pay overheads and help the margins of other products. The Resin Plant was working 24 hours a day with Frank Bird as manager and later on ably assisted by Jimmy Yetton. A varnish tank farm had been set up adjacent to the bottom shop - some distance from the Resin Plant. Varnishes after filtering were pumped while still hot through overhead pipes from one end of the works to the other.
The manufacture of paints also went through quite dramatic changes. The old established method of pigment dispersion by ball mill continued in small mills up to the end of paint manufacture at Postans. The larger ball mills had become somewhat redundant having been replaced by high speed dispersers for certain products and sand/bead mills for others.
Harry Griffiths was well established as Production Manager and helped pioneer these new production processes which had to be done in close collaboration with the laboratories.
By 1963 Powder Coatings were being talked about, and the first serious investigation was carried out through a visit to Shell Chemical Laboratories at Egham. The full Powder Coating story will be written about later.
Mention was made earlier of the High Viscosity Dispersions Department. The next section of this story will be allocated to this subject - the department did after all, at one stage account for approximately 25% of the company's turnover.
The "H.V. Dept." was always known within the factory as "The Chip Shop". Quite an obvious name to the initiated - the end product in most cases being sold in the form of small brittle chipped flakes.
Production of nitrocellulose chips started in 1938. It came about as a result of difficulties being experienced in manufacturing the black cellulose lacquers then in use for motor car finishing. To produce the maximum jetness and gloss in the lacquer required very high levels of energy being applied to the mixture of pigment, nitrocellulose and plasticiser. Normal paint processing machniery could not produce lacquers to the required high standard.
The chip process involves the mixing of the pigment - (all colours in various types of pigment were ultimately involved) and damped nitrocellulose, plasticiser and a little solvent are mixed together in a heavy duty mixer to form a heavy "dough". This "dough" is weighed out into portions which are processed on heated twin-roll mills. The "dough" spreads out over the surface of the front roll to form a continuous sheet. The compression forces in the nip of the roll can be about 150 tons - the fire hazard is considerable. Most of the solvent has been driven off at this stage and on cooling down the sheet is taken from the rolls and is roughly broken up manually and finally "kibbled" through a rotary cutter to form the final chipped flakes.
Reverting to the fire hazard, the company did observe some very spectacular fires which did on the odd occasion involve complete evacuation of plants, laboratories and offices; this however, was very rare.
The fire drill in the Chip Shop was very well organised and it was not an unusual sight to see Owen Morley taking part in the fire fighting. His A.R.P. training during the last war no doubt being very useful! One must not forget the Birmingham Fire Brigade who were always on the spot in double quick time - those firemen worked wonders. The look of a Chip Shop after a fire was most sad but it was amazing how quickly things got back into production.
The electrical side always received most damage but this was amazingly soon put right. There is one amusing anecdote related to fire. The Fire Brigade received a call that there was a fire in a Chip Shop in Nechells, and it is alleged they spent a few valuable minutes looking for a Fish & Chip Shop until on of the old hands realised it was Postans Chip Shop!
In the earlier days of "Chip" manufacture the company's sole sales agent was Morris Ashby Ltd., (one automatically recalls Bob Warne) who sold the dispersion to many paint manufacturers at home and abroad. Norman Baldock, who worked with the writer on the Resin Plant in its early days had, at this stage, joined Morris Ashby on its sales side. The "chips" are dissolved up into solvent by the customer and carefully added to the ingredients of the overall formulation of the lacquer. The "chips" contain a very high pigment component.
Other resins come into the picture and by 1970 ten basic resin types of "chips" were being produced with over 110 being produced in bulk. Some of the later produced "chips" ended up in lacquers for such articles as "wet look" boots, soap wrappers, food cans, chocolate wrappers and plastic camera cases.
Heavy pigment pastes were also made in the Chip Shop in heavy duty mixers, some as mastic batches for the plastics industry. Heavy bodied stoppers and fillers for the machine tool trade mainly were also produced.
Laboratory control was essential at all times and every batch of dispersion was tested by the Quality Control Laboratory using tests appropriate to the end use of the product. At this time the technical side of the section was under the control of Frank Cole - yet another paint trained apprentice who actually joined in February 1951. In the latter days George Gardner ("have you heard the one about"!) was the Foreman, and invariably had a smile on his face fire or no fire!
The sales of "chips" was ultimately taken over by Postans Limited itself and sold under the name of "Spersin Products". Stan Day took over the sales desk for these products and must have spent hours on the 'phone talking to paint manufacturers very much larger than Postans and also to printing ink makers of every type, large and small.
In 1983 the CHIP side of the business was sold to Runnymede Dispersions Ltd. One "legacy" remained and a nice profitable one. A very special dispersion was made for one specific reprographic ink manufacturer. This business grew and grew and continued until the machinery was finally sold in 1988.
A short trip back to the motor trade. In 1971 the company celebrated its 50 years of trading with The Austin Motor Company, with the Postans Board entertaining certain people from Austin and Morris Cowley, seeing "Showboat" with Cleo Laine in London, followed by dinner and cabaret at The Savoy Hotel. Hal Clarke had joined the Board as Technical Director in 1962, Harry Griffiths as Works Director in 1967 and Roger Hatfield as Sales Director in 1971 Marcus Morley having taken over the role of Managing Director in 1966.
A new laboratory specifically for car paint development had been "built" in 1970 over the old Paint Shop No. 1.
The mid 1960 until mid 1970's saw many new building developments throughout the factory site. The whole place was in fact turned around. The bottom paint shop near Aston Church Road had been fully fitted out inside with a complete all round metal mezzanine floor (balcony) being installed which held not only the large ball mills but also the small ball mill section was well established under Len Pickett.
Very large storage tanks had been installed which stored not only a variety of shades of car paints but also bulk quantities of standard paints for a number of uses. The dry pigment store was held on this balcony together with driers and other auxiliary raw materials. A solvent station was at one end with facility for supplying a multitude of solvents as required.
Downstairs the filling and labelling section had been established with the ladies of the bottom shop doing a grand job with Stan Whitmore as Foreman. These people worked wonders and were often asked to produce so many 40 gallon barrels or 5 gallon drums of some products at very short notice.
The conversion to metric measurement took place during this period when everyone had to get used to litres in a variety of volumes. The important tinting section (Mike Watson and others) was also here. The cellulose shop (Mike Copson) had remained in the middle of the works and did its own tinting.
The filling section had moved from The Granary which was also the general finished product paint store.
When one sees The Granary building nowadays it is hard to conceive that there was once in there a 1,000 gallon ball mill which had made a very large quantity of paint in its time. The removal of that ball mill one Saturday morning was quite an event; many folk were involved with George Roberts "sort of" in charge. Not a very scientific removal but it was "got out" without damage to plant or people!
The demonstration shop (near Trevor Street) was the main vehicle maintenance section with Bill Ashton in charge.
This section was moved to the other end of the works into the then established large store with a large barrel storage bunded area in the land adjacent. Bill Ashton had worked for the company since leaving school and apart from his vehicle maintenance job, had a very important role in taking Owen Morley to his club in Birmingham for lunch most days of the week - and of course, picking him up later on! Bill did not have the retirement he deserved. He always loved driving up to the north of Scotland with his wife for their annual holidays. He had made this journey for many years and so on his retirement he set off to his beloved holiday area where a few days later, he sadly died very peacefully in his parked car.
Bill Cross later took over the vehicle maintenance section. One other mainstay of the general maintenance section was John Yates. In the early 1950's he worked for a company which carried out the electrical installations and repairs at Postans. He was an expert after a Chip Shop fire! and he ultimately joined the work-force of the company.
The first part of the now established office block was built in 1974; this was extended later on. Molly Orme, the then telephonist/receptionist, must have loved her new reception area after the pokey little "cell" in the old offices! In the downstairs section of the offices were the Sales Department with Ian Wares (ex paint apprentice!), Arthur Nix, Stan Day and others with Eric Newcombe and Linda Flanagan in Accounts. The Wages Office, Costing, Buying Office of Peter Morley, Interview and Conference Rooms were fitted in at that time.
Upstairs much as today, with Managing Director and other senior executives together with secretaries and typists having their offices. The main Board Room was established in phase two of the office block development.
Christine Whiting had moved with the office to her new surroundings and soon Sylvia Hand and Joyce Burnside (M.D.'s Secretary) joined the company.
The new Raw Material, Finished Product and Despatch Block was now being built with Albert Jones (Despatch) and Les Copson (Raw Materials) as Managers. The Finished Goods transport also came under Albert who worked wonders on many occasions. The transport vehicles livery had been changed during the past decade from black to blue as the overall main colour.
The Thinners Section was established in the middle of the site as part of the general cellulose shop makeup. This was a well equipped bank of valves supplying many solvents. Mixtures of these were also made up here (Stoving, Airdrying and Cellulose Paint Thinners) with Harold Smith (who had joined in 1947) doing a grand job in his own quiet inimitable way.
The steam supply for the whole site, for heating and general factory use also started in this area. Originally it was a coal/coke fired boiler - one can still see Harry Abbott of Chip Shop fame - sitting on a coal heap within the boiler house, smoking his pipe during a works break and generally putting the world to rights! During the 1960's oil fired boilers were installed with their own flues. The old concrete stack from the coal boiler had to be demolished which was quite exciting. It was impossible to prepare a "bit-free" demonstration paint panel for weeks!
The Apprentice Scheme had been plodding on all the time with Gwyn Williams, Bernard Myatt (you will appreciate the link of these later on), Alan Arnold, Peter Field and others having joined the ranks.
With the considerable growth and variety in the paints (and ultimately powders) produced, it soon became obvious that a Technical Service Station had to be set up. The number of representatives who needed this service had increased. Until this time, the writer, Harry Griffiths and Roy Arnold had really fitted in the role of technical service as required.
Roger Hatfield set up the new Department and it has since had its own office and certain test and secretarial facilities. Peter Field, on completion of his apprenticeship and having gained considerable experience, became Manager of the Section. Malcolm Fitter had joined the company and he and Peter were towers of strength in the motor trade apart from the many other customer areas. Eric Desmond and Harry Gamble had also joined the company. Eric later entered Technical Service with Harry dashing around the Paint Labs and factory as only he could do!
Since 1971 when Roger Hatfield joined the Board, Marcus Morley convened management board meetings regularly when problems and praises were fully aired and action set up as necessary. Many of these meetings took place in the evening to save normal working time and were held at The Royal Angus Hotel. The meetings were often quite blood-letting and helped considerably to put many problems right. These were not limited just to products but involved general production, manufacturing techniques, sales and office arrangements, the overall technical and technical service scene and legislation (safety, labelling, quality assurance etc.) - quite a lot happened in this area since the mid-1970's and did involve much extra work.
There had been quite a number of changes in personnnel during the late 1970's and through the 80's - mainly in the Sales Offices and Technical Sections. Some staff had left some joined (and left) and some joined and stayed. The introduction of powder coatings of course had an influence.
By 1982 John Manners had joined Sales to help George de la Mare and others in the Midlands. In 1979 John Birch joined as Technical Manager - Powder Coatings, and subsequently appointed Director of Technology.
In 1978 Alan Jones joined the company as Technical Director, Designate, the idea being for him to take over from Hal Clarke on his retirement - which was beginning to be talked about! Alan stayed only three years before going off to Canada. Keith Jacques and John Gascoyne had joined the Technical Section as heads of Industrial and Motor Car Paints respectively, and they began building up their own staffs.
The office block was extended in 1981 and Lily Hudson had retired, having been in the Despatch/Cash Sales section for many years. Marcus Morley laid on a pleasant little party in the office to commemorate the occasion.
1981 was the year that EVODE Group plc took over Postans Limited - more about that later.
Having gone this far without a specific section on Powder Coatings we will now spend some time on this subject, as it is now the established sole business of Postans Limited; the paint side having been sold to Manders in 1988.
Powder Coatings have been described in various ways but the most succinct in the eyes of the writer appeared in "Powder Coatings Terms and Definitions" (AFTSME Powder Coatings Division, Powder Coatings Institute, Alexandria VA in 1985. Powder Coatings - "coatings which are protective or decorative or both, formed by the application of a powder coating to a substrate and fused into continuous film by the application of heat or radiant energy. Coating powders are finely divided particles or organic polymer which generally contain pigments, fillers and additives which remain finely divided during storage under suitable conditions". - so now you know!
In recent years protection by electrostatic powder painting has increased month by month. This has been enhanced by the tightening-up of legislation concerning use of solvents and general environmental factors. Powder coatings in the thermoplastic field have been in use for many years and these powders, under the influence of heat above their melting point, form a film around the article being coated which on cooling sets to a non-porous coating.
This class of coating is normally applied by fluidised bed technique where the powder is held in suspension over a sintered bed and behaves very much as a normal liquid. The article to be coated being heated before immersion into the fluidised bed.
Postans are concerned with thermosetting powders which are chemically cross-linked by the application of heat. Once cured the coating is non-reversible and will not re-melt on subsequent application of heat.
The types of resins and pigments used are many and varied - resin systems used are epoxide, epoxy/polyester, polyester/triglycidyl isocyanate and polyester/isocyanate to name a few. The pigments chosen must of course be able to withstand the heat used in manufacture and/or application and curing.
As briefly mentioned way back in this story Postans had become involved with powder coating in 1962 when as investigation into the use of powder coating with epoxide resins was undertaken. In late 1962 the writer paid a visit to Shell Chemical Research Laboratories at Egham when all aspects relating to these then new coatings were fully discussed - resins, curing agents, pigments, additives, dispersion, powdering and curing. This was fully written up in Postans Technical Minute 168 and the writer (of that Minute and this history) cannot resist quoting a short sentence he wrote in 1962 "The position so far as these coatings are concerned looks at the least, encouraging" - what foresight he had!
In 1963 the first powder coating was made at Postans. It was a black epoxide powder made in the Chip Shop, the black pigment dispersed into the epoxide resin as a masterbatch using the hot rolls; this masterbatch then being blended with other resins and catalyst in a dough type mixer. It was made into a powder in a pin disc mill and applied by fluidised bed technique in a lab-made piece of apparatus using a sintered glass base through which the air was forced to "fluidise" the powder.
Ten years elapsed before the powder coatings project really got going. In 1963 the only thermosetting resins considered suitable for powder coatings were epoxides. Although good powders could have been made from such resins the cured films had shortcomings which tended to restrict their commercial exploitation - that was the thought at that time although serious development was going on in the continent of Europe.
As a result of advertisements in trade journals placed by Postans Limited in late 1971 contact was made early in 1972 with a German company, VP VEREINIGTE-PULVERLACK GmbH & Co., in Landshut, Bavaria. This company was already well established in the powder coating field and made a large range of products (epoxy, polyester, acrylic and polyurethane) but it specialised in polyester powders.
In August 1972 Roger Hatfield, Les Seaborne and the writer visited Landshut to explore the possibility of selling VP Powders in the U.K. and eventually making VP Powders under licence.
The Managing Director of VP at that time was unwilling to commit himself. Later on in October of that year Marcus Morley and Roger Hatfield visited Landshut and an agreement on licensing arrangements between VP and Postans was signed by both Managing Directors. What a way to celebrate the 1972 Olympic Games which were in fact proceeding in Munich in August when Roger, Les and Hal were in Landshut, a relatively short distance from Munich!
In October 1972 a full-scale demonstration of powder coating application by electrostatic spraying was carried out in conjunction with an application equipment manufacturer/supplier. The Chief Chemist of VP came over to Birmingham to help solve some of the inevitable problems which had arisen during these trials, not only at the equipment makers but at one of Postans customers who had been interested in powder coating for some time. A senior member of this company, along with three people from Postans made a visit to Dusseldorf in December of that year to see an operational powder coating plant in action.
The first powder coating laboratory had been set up at Postans and its initial electrostatic spray unit, spray booth and curing oven were installed, and this laboratory was fully operational in January 1973. (in October Gwyn Williams joined the Sales Department as Technical Service Representative, and Michael Conroy had transferred from his laboratory duties to Production Department as assistant to Production Manager (Roy Arnold).)
As 1973 went on various articles from a variety of Postans' customers had been powder coated, and of course snags had to be solved. Metal pre-treatment before coating was most important and a method of adequate pre-treatment had to be found. Roger Hatfield and Bert Davies (another Midland Rep.) visited Switzerland to see other application equipment which was in use by one of Postans customers.
Vereinigte-Pulverlack had been acquired by UNILEVER which did lead to some uncertainty about powder supplies. This however, was soon resolved.
By this time Gwyn Williams was established in the Powder Laboratory and some of Postans larger paint users had decided to change over to powder coating -these mainly involved aluminium window frame manufacturers using polyester coatings. Development work was proceeding very well and polyurethane type coatings had been formulated.
By 1975 the powder coating of aluminium extrusion was rapidly increasing and sales had risen from 100 Kilos in July to 1,000 Kilos in December!
In May 1975 the Chemical Laboratory was closed down and Les Seaborne was unfortunately made redundant and left the company.
A licence arrangement, firstly to market and then subsequently to manufacture SYNTHA PULVIN powders had been agreed between VP-VEREINIGTE GmbH and POSTANS LIMITED in 1974. In 1978 the first powder manufacturing plant was installed in The Granary - premixer, extruder, chill rolls, band cooler, grinder and sieves - in the area which for many years had been the varnish kitchen.
The second development in 1979 was a brand new building in Mount Street. This was purpose built and housed manufacturing plant and laboratives. It was soon quite apparent that this building would soon reach saturation point. Further staff had been taken on; Jane Ankrett having joined in 1980.
In 1981 a much larger plant was built in an area adjacent to The Granary and equipped with much larger manufacturing gear. Development work was progressing very quickly with polyesters, epoxides and other resin based powders. The old varnish kitchen came into use again, this time as a laboratory which contained a full pilot manufacturing area apart from the essential general development and quality control sections.
1981 was a very important year in the history of Postans. As briefly mentioned earlier this was the time Evode Pic took over the company. A few other approaches by others had been made before so the Board was prepared for some changes to come about. The date of the take-over was November 1981 and was celebrated with a splendid lunch at The Plough and Harrow Hotel in Birmingham. The writer will always remember one special point on that occasion. As we all entered the room allocated for the lunch there, for all to see, was a five litre tin of Evode carpet adhesive which was being used in an approaching hall-way - what a coincidence!
The general running of Postans was not greatly affected by the take-over. Many management meetings were held in Nechells and Stafford when works and office staff gradings were established and appropriate wage/salary scales set up. Factory and office safety procedures were fully discussed in committee and appropriate recommendations made. Committees were set up to periodically discuss works and office gradings. Mr Robin Tomkins, Director of Personnel at Evode (with whom the writer closely worked) chaired these committees who had representatives from the various sections of the company.
Marcus Morley remained as Managing Director of Postans Ltd., until his early retirement in 1982. Roger Hatfield was Director of Sales and Harry Griffiths Director of Production.
The writer remained as an "elderly statesman" until his retirement in late 1982 when he still acted in a consultancy capacity until his full retirement in 1986.
Roger later took over as Director and General Manager of Postans.
In 1983 Steven Jacques was appointed as Sales Manager SYNTHA PULVIN Powders. 1984 brought about the acquisition of Worralls Powders Ltd. by Evode, which was to have an influence on Postans. Harry Griffiths was appointed Director and General Manager of Worralls and Gwyn Williams and Slyvia Hand moved with him to the St. Clements Road factory. Bernard Myatt who had earlier left Postans later joined Worralls - small world! In 1985 Malcolm Henry joined Postans as Manufacturing Director. In 1987 Roger Hatfield became Managing Director of the Evode Industrial Coatings Division with Steven Jacques taking over his role as Director and General Manager at Postans. John Birch is Director of Technology. Changes had occurred in the Financial Director and Company Secretary office, but John C. Boulton is now established in that capacity.
1988 was the year in which the paint side of Postans ceased to exist. The entire section was sold to Manders and so ended a very long era of paint making in Nechells.
This of course brought about a very large number of redundancies at Postans so it was a very sad time and a difficult one for management. Some employees found new employment fairly quickly, others took longer but everyone did ultimately get fixed up elsewhere.
Back to manufacturing. In 1988 the Chip Shop and the old Paint Development laboratory were demolished and the main powder plant was extended over this area. The Granary once again comes into the story. The main part of this building adjacent to Trevor Street which had become a powder store was completely cleared out and in 1989 a fine new powder laboratory was installed together with the environmental testing laboratory. The Granary has certainly served the company well over the years! The old production chip laboratory and associated buildings were demolished in 1989. At the time of writing this leaves only the "Demonstration Shop", Granary and the "attached" resin plant from the old times still standing. Even "Postans House" has gone!
While sales, office, manufacturing, technical and other sections of the company were proceeding with their day to day functions there were other matters which took up much time and often involved inter-departmental work, still do and will do in the future.
As with all industries, the paint and powder coating trade is deeply involved with legislation. The Petroleum (Consolidation) Act 1928, The Highly Flammable Liquids and Liquified Petroleum Gases Regulations 1972 and The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 were Acts which had to be, and were, adhered to. This involved much combined work between departments to ensure that safety was being fully observed in formulation, manufacturing and packing of products and that sufficient advice was supplied to its sales section for customer information.
The Classification, Packaging and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Regulations 1984 involved a full survey of every product made so that an appropriate label could be produced. The permutations were numerous but it did have a beneficial effect in that the survey did give the company the opportunity to examine every formulation and carry out some rationalisation in some areas. In fact the studies carried out and records made were to stand in good stead when the company made application to become a Registered Firm under the requirement of British Standard Specification BS.5750.
BS.5750 was published in 1979 and became the National Standard for Quality Systems and was the mainstay of the Government's Quality Campaign aimed at improving competitiveness of British Industry at home and abroad. BS.5750 is now linked with the ISO.9000 series of standards and will no doubt have a great influence on trading within Europe after 1992.
To enable Postans to become a Registered Firm meant a very thorough survey of every section of the company. A full examination into every aspect in each department had to be carried out and fully written up in a manual. The writer was delegated to carry out this task in his "consultancy" capacity and found his knowledge of the company and its workers over many years most useful. He had the great assistance of Cyril Lawton of Evode - who at that time was on a similar class of employment!
BS.5750 called for a quality policy statement which in concise wording laid out the company's policy and was signed by the then Managing Director, Marcus Morley. Inspection visits were made to Postans by British Standards officials. Certain amendments had to be made but finally the Certificate or Registration was issued which now hangs on the wall in the Reception at Postans.
The demise of the paint side of Postans was of course a sad occasion for many people, but there is no doubt at all that Postans Limited did play a very important role in the general industry of paint in The Midlands and in fact, the Country.
The growth of the powder side had been phenomenal, and so may it continue.
During this text the writer has mentioned certain people by name and this was done to maintain some links. There were many others not mentioned but equally important; they are and will always be remembered. Many left the company over the years, but all seem to have made good at home or abroad!