Rapid growth during the War

The year 1941 was one of the most momentous in the growth of Evode. The company was now re-sited in premises which were acceptable to the authorities, and both Dr H Simon and Mr J J E Forman were now released from internment. Production recommenced of building chemicals and much of Dr Simon’s time was now spent seeking approval from government authorities to supply his products for use on Air Ministry and War Office contracts.

Early in January discussions took place with the Board of Trade representatives and it was decided to appoint two additional directors. The board of directors would then include four British citizens and this would help to strengthen the case being made to gain the release of Dr. Simon, as well as the withdrawal of the board of trade control over the company.

22nd January 1941

With a view to furthering the withdrawal of the Board of Trade control over this business, and the release of Dr. Simon whose presence is essential to the continuance and expansion of the business, it has been decided to appoint two additional Directors. The Board will then consist entirely of British citizens.

Mr. A. Axelrath, who was the largest shareholder, and living at Woodmere Boulevard 23 Woodmere Long Island New York, had instructed his solicitor, Mr. Wachtell of New York, to instruct in turn Messrs. Allen & Overy, Solicitors 3 Finch Lane London, to act on his behalf, with power of attorney.

At the request of Mr. Axelrath, Mr. Harry Bainbridge of 3 Finch Lane, London E.C.3, and Mrs. Wood, the Secretary of the company, are to be made Directors. With this you will receive a notice from the Secretary of Evode convening a meeting for the purpose of appointing the above mentioned persons as Directors, and this memorandum is sent so that you are aquainted with the trend of events which have led up to the proposal.

Yesterday I had an opportunity of discussing the above proposal with M. D. Gordon, who is acting with Mr. Oliver Wilkins as Controller of Evode under the Board of Trade, and he has given his consent to the course proposed.

H Clipstone, Director, Stafford

Memo from John Forman in internment (from 1543 E Room)
Evode Chemical Works, Stafford., 22nd January 1941

Notice is hereby given that an Extraordinary General Meeting of the above-named Company will be held at the Swan Hotel, Greengate Street, Stafford, on Thursday, the 30th day of January 1941 at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when the subjoined Resolutions will be proposed, and if thought fit, passed, as Extraordinary Resolutions:-

  1. "THAT the number of Directors of the Company shall increased to five".
  2. "THAT Mr Harry Bainbridge, 3 Finch Lane, London E.C.3., be appointed a Director of the Company"
  3. "THAT Mrs Doris Irene Wood, Secretary of the Company, be appointed a Director of the Company".
D wood., Secretary

24 February 1941 - Minutes of the A.G.M.

APPOINTMENT OF AUDITORS: On the proposition of Mr. H J Bostock, seconded by Mr. F M Bostock It was resolved:- The Messrs. Amman Dexter MD, chartered accountants, be and are hereby re-appointed to the company at fee to be fixed by the Directors at the close of the financial year.

Dr. Simon, Mr. Bainbridge reported that he had written to the Ministry of Labour in an endeavour to speed up the release of Dr. Simon, and that the Ministry of Labour had replied that they were unable to do anything in the matter. Mr. Bainbridge stated that he did not consider that to be final and understood it to mean merely that the Home Office would not welcome representatives from the Minister of Labour at this juncture. It was agreed:- That Mr. Bainbridge should take such further steps as he deemed to be advisable.

Mr. J. Forman, Mr. Clipstone reported that Mr. Forman had been interviewed by two intelligence officers and the he, (Mr. Forman) had subsequently been informed that he could not be released at present.

Mr. Fishburn reported that is was probable the Company would received a considerable amount of orders for Secomastic in the future Mr. Bainbridge had a letter from the British Bitumen Emulsions Ltd. embodying proposals for agreement with them regarding supplies, and Mr. Bainbridge stated that he would prepare draft agreements for both British Bitumen Emulsions Ltd. and Selection Engineering Co. Ltd.

On 3rd April 1941 Dr. Simon was released from internment, and after
certain formalities had been complied with he hoped to resume business.

There was a Directors meeting on 30 May 1941 (present Mr. Clipstone, Chairman, Mr. Harry Bainbridge, Mr. Forman, Dr. Simon and Mrs. Wood.

Company made a loss of £534, added to debit balance of £4163 giving a debit balance of £4697

In 1941 during a Directors meeting, Mr. Clipstone reported that Mr. Forman had been interviewed by two intelligence officers and that he had subsequently been informed that he could not be released at present. However he was released in October 1941 and rejoined the Company after a total of 15 months detention.

Dr. Simon recommenced his service on the 30th May 1941 and it was agreed that his salary be raised to £15 per week.

Upon his return he found that the company had suffered a severe setback during his absence and the profit and loss account for the six months ending 31st March 1941 showed a very poor state of affairs.

Dr. Simon knew that Ministry of Defence approval for his Building Chemical Products was essential in order for the company to survive. Much time and effort were spent supplying samples to Government authorities and providing independent test results. He visited many large raw material suppliers to persuade them to give Evode an allocation. Most of the time he was successful in getting at least a weekly delivery of a few hundredweight or a few gallons, etc. of materials. For the manufacture of “Mellitol” and “Portite” an essential raw material was cement which was being supplied to builders on very strict allocation. Each week Dr. Simon would visit the local builders to see whether they could spare one or two bags of cement which were then loaded into his car boot and so another few days production was ensured.

One of the first products to receive approval from the Ministry of Defence was Evode Frost Protective 101TS.

The raw material used in this product was calcium chloride and the main supplier was Imperial Chemical Industries.

The demand for Evode Frost protective 101TS for use in cement mortar and concrete to allow such products to be used under freezing conditions was essential for the construction of airfields in 1941 onwards.

Listed below are a few extracts from an account of the American 8th Air Force Operations in Europe:

“The 1000 day battle ”, by James Hoseason

Millions of tons of concrete had to be used to meet these requirements.

Extract 1 “The scene in set” (page 13)

‘Early in 1941 Britain launched a crash programme to construct Airfields, train Airmen and build Aircrafts. No less than 100 extra airfields were under immediate construction’.

Extract 2 “In the beginning” (page 15)

‘In Britain (December 1941) the construction of airfields and landing grounds now became a super priority. The number to be constructed was doubled. The American Air Force was to be based in the Est Midlands and East Anglia. Norfolk’s pre-war 7 airfields were to be augmented by no less than 30 additional bomber and fighter air fields. Suffolk’s 5 airfields were to be supplemented by a further 33 airfields. The Americans were scheduled to receive from the British a total of 127 airfields and other installations necessary to sustain the Bombers, Fighters, Service and Maintenance units’.

Extract 3 “The second Wing Emerges” (page 33)

‘Throughout the past year from early summer 1942 onwards the work had gone on in eastern England at break-neck speed in the building of airfields. It rose to a peak in June 1943 when some 32,000 civilian workers and 13,500 American troops were engaged in the construction of airfields and supporting accommodation’.

Such was the demand for Evode Frost Protective 101TS that the company was granted a Ministry of Defence top priority requisition for calcium chloride which was in short supply.

Mr JJE Forman is released from detention.

In October 1941 Mr. Forman was released from detention and rejoined the Company immediately. He became quickly involved in organising production as well as assisting Dr. Simon with the day to day administration.

The production of Evode Frost Protective 101TS

This is vividly described in Mr JJE Forman’s company history and illustrates in great detail a typical working day in 1941, he writes:

From the middle of 1941 The Company really started to unfold. We worked from early morning until very late at night. We worked weekends and holidays (including Christmas Day) and there was just no let up at all. In order to be able to cope with the very many orders, which we received from the Ministry of Works for Evode Frost Protective, we had to engage male nurses from St. George's Hospital in Stafford as part-time worker. It should be appreciated that military service has created a grave labour shortage and we were only too glad to get any help we could to help with production. I will now give one instance of the sort of activities that went on in Stone Road and describe the production of Evode Frost Protective.

We received the calcium chloride (G447) in a solid state in drums weighing about 7cwts. These drums had to be first smashed on the outside with sledge hammers to break up the solid mass and then the metal was cut with an axe right across and down the sides so that the solid lumps of calcium chloride fell onto the concrete floor. These lumps were then smashed with sledgehammers into smaller pieces and the whole lot shovelled into a petrol driven Brick Crushing Machine which smashed everything down to less than 1/2” diameter lumps. The machine had been bought second hand from a local builder and was worth its weight in gold since it would have been impossible to dissolve large lumps of calcium chloride quickly enough in warm water.

We were expected to produce 40 gallons of Evode Frost Protective in 60 minutes or so and that would have been impossible without the Brick Crushing Machine. Very often we had to push the machine onto the pavement outside the factory in order to have more room under the hoist. The machine was started up at 5.00 or 6.00 am and ran continuously throughout the day and late into the evening. The noise and dust was something awful and though there were houses next to the factory I do not think we received any complaints. People were very understanding when they knew our products were required to build Airfields.

The crushed material was then weighed into four or five drums with about 1 cwt in each and these were then hauled by hand winch to the top floor of the building From the winch they were taken by trolley across the floor and tipped down chutes into 45 gallon barrels on the floor below. Prior to the drums of calcium chloride being tipped down the chutes each workman would fill his 45 gallon barrel about half full with hot water. At the appropriate moment he would shout for the material to be tipped down the shute and for the next 30 minutes or so he had to continuously stir with a wooden stick and add more water. The calcium chloride did not dissolve easily and at the end of the shift both wrist and arm muscles were very painful.

The working conditions were far from pleasant and even though we all wore oilskins and rubber gloves it was impossible not to get splashed with the calcium chloride solution. Most of us suffered with eczema and we probably did not help matters by bandaging our wrists and arms to stop chafing as the linen became soaked in the liquid. It took about 45-60 minutes to manufacture and empty 40 gallons of Frost Protective and a five man team could produce in a day some 2000 or more gallons. Considering the comparatively small numbers of workers employed and the fact we had no real equipment, the gallonage we produced was extraordinary. The final stage, once the Frost Protective had been checked with a hydrometer, was the emptying into 40 gallon drums and stored in the yard at the rear of the factory. Rubber hoses ran from upstairs, through a hole in the wall, down to the drums which two men under all weather conditions were continuously filling and rolling away ready for loading onto lorries.

The enthusiasm of the workmen was remarkable, particularly the male nurses who started each day with us after already completing a tour of duty at the hospital. Dr Simon and I would as often as possible join the men and do our stint of stirring the calcium chloride. He was generous with his praise and the ‘Old Man’ as he was affectionately called, would always share out a packet of cigarettes at the end of a shift. This was very much appreciated as cigarettes were strictly rationed.

From the middle of 1941 to late 1944 the production of Evode Frost Protective continued in the manner I have described. How many thousands of gallons we produced in those 3 ½ years is not known, but we do know that our efforts were of major value to the National War Effort.

At the end of the 1941 Financial year the balance sheet indicated that the progress achieved in the previous year had not been maintained. The paid up capital was the same as the previous year (£7,064) but a small loss of £534 had been incurred.

The Directors signing the document were Mr. Clipstone and Dr. Simon and they felt that taking into account the cost of moving the Company from Glover Street to Stone Road, and the consequent building work which had to be carried out, the financial results could be considered satisfactory. The Company might have made a much greater loss as there was little or no production for a month whilst the move was taking place.

Letter to Mr J Forman No. 90112 Peveril Camp Peel Isle of Man 22 Stone Road Stafford, 26th May 1941 Dear Sir, We enclose a copy of Manufacturing Trading Account and Profit and Loss Account for the six months ended 31st March 1941. The profit is very small, but it must be remembered that we have spent in that period about £310 on heating installation and other removal expenses, so that the profit would normally have been about £500. We are now going to review our prices, as it is obvious that these must be increased. Yours faithfully, for EVODE CHEMICAL WORKS LIMITED D Wood, Director Fortunately the very good sales volume over July to September helped to offset the lack of any production for a month. The document also mentioned a motor car at cost, less depreciation, to the value of £30. Plant and machinery at cost less depreciation amounted to £310. The bank overdraft was in a very healthy condition and amounted to £247.00. Evode Bitumens For Emergency Water Storage. As a young chemist in Germany, Dr. Simon had acquired considerable knowledge of bituminous emulsions and their use for waterproofing concrete structures. He had introduced a number of these emulsions into the “Dove” product range under the trade name “Insulating Paste”. Although small quantities of these products had been sold over the past two years, a very important need was soon to arise. As the nightly attacks on London by the German Air Force increased in intensity, millions of gallons of ready at-hand water were needed for fire fighting. Engineers were ordered by the Ministry of Works to turn gutted basements into reservoirs. Hastily, bomb sites were cleared, the sides and bottoms of basements were concreted and then filled with water.

These crudely built static water tanks were unsuccessful as the concrete was porous and the precious water gradually seeped into the ground. Dr. Simon knew he had an answer to this problem, and he, therefore, sent his Sales Manager with information on Evode Insulating Pastes to see the Ministry of Works Engineers in London.

A picture of a bombed building in London.
Typical of a conversion into a temporary static water tank.

The EWS in the picture refers to "Emergency Water Supply"

The Ministry, which had suffered the mutual recriminations of contractors and material suppliers over the leaking static water tanks, would only agree to trials with the Evode material if the Company undertook to apply the treatment. This Dr. Simon agreed to do, and six newly concreted basements were allocated for the trials. Although he had no practical experience of carrying out such work and neither had anyone else at Evode at that time, he set off in his car for London with a load of materials and the equipment (sweeping brooms and buckets) to apply the product. The rest of the labour force, comprising his Sales Manager and two of the part time male nurses who helped in the factory, (these two workmen had taken a weeks holiday from the hospital) travelled down by train.

After the work had been completed and the tanks filled, they were inspected by the Ministry of Works a week later, who found that the water level was unchanged. The Evode Insulating Paste system had made the tanks watertight as Dr. Simon said it would and its use was now approved by the Ministry of Works. Contracts were now being received for water proofing not only more static water tanks but air raid shelters as well. It now became necessary to set up a permanent contracts team in London to carry out this work.

The Ministry of Works started to place contracts for similar waterproofing in other cities which were being subject to bombing raids. It was impossible for the London team to carry out all this work and so more teams were recruited.

Evode Waterproofing Contracts Department.

The waterproofing process was now extended to hangar roofs and water towers, etc. and to administer these teams, The Evode Contracts Department was formed. A labour force was recruited which consisted of Mr. Eric Washer who joined the Company on 28th December 1941 in the Contracts Department, which consisted of three other men and himself. One of the others was his father, and another his brother, it was quite a family concern.

Some new air raid shelters had been built behind the National Gallery, off Charring Cross Road in London, around a statue well protected by sand bags. This was Eric’s first job. The waterproofing of shelters was the prime function, and plodding on foot around the sites was quite arduous, at the time they could not afford to buy new brushes and buckets for each job and it was practice to wrap these up in sacking and carry them through the streets of London, this job usually fell to him. However, they soon graduated to static water tanks.

To Eric Washer, Stafford was a vague place somewhere in the North which he had never visited, never saw anybody from, and only came to the fore when money and wages were the subject, and at 8d per hour this was of some importance! A quick phone call to Mrs. Wood when things weren't quite as they should be soon put matters right. Eventually, The Evode Contracts Department had to venture forth into the wilds of the country and it was nothing to be sealing a water tank in Hertfordshire one day and a roof in Yorkshire or beyond the next.

Those were great days for travelling too, with perhaps a four hour wait for a connection at Crewe Railway Station late at night or arriving in Leeds or London during the very early hours and finding that with no public transport running they had to wait around the station for several hours until the first bus or tram. Mr. Washer could well remember Mr. Yudolph, who later became a Sales Director starting with the company and visiting his first job in the company of Mr. Fishburn at Newly Mills Horsforth Leeds. Access to the roofs had to be gained by walking the length of the building along a series of pipes at eaves level. Following this rather scaring experience he was surprised to see him visit the company again. They went on to deal with a considerable amount of work at A.V. Roes factory at Yeadon where they worked on their first T.2 aircraft hanger and various other sites and mills around Leeds and Bradford. At this time the labour force had grown considerably, with local labour taken on for these jobs. The Ministry of Labour had to be satisfied that a job of national importance was being done before they could employ them.

The first contact that Mr. Washer had with anybody actually in Stafford, and certainly the first time he had been to the factory, was when he had to be taken by Dr. Simon in his car to a pottery at Armitage. It was on this job that he laid roofing felt for the first time in conjunction with an Evode treatment.

On one occasion Dr. Simon was in Rugby inspecting Evode work being done on a water tank. Two frozen 'mites' were drying out the insulating paste with a brazier. Dr Simon expressed surprise that they were still working in such adverse conditions that he left them with a welcome supply of cigarettes, which were in short supply at that time.

Some years later after the war, the Doctor, as he was known made a site visit to a water tower in Stoke on Trent, it was a bank holiday Monday, and the Doctor arrived in his first new Humber car. When he saw the 120ft climb that was required to speak to the workmen, he managed to persuade Mr. Forman that it would be a good idea to climb to the top of the tower to get Mr. Washer down so that the Doctor could speak to him!

Introduction to letters from Mrs Wood to Mr Forman, whilst he was interned.

Mrs D I Wood was now a Director of the company and until the return of Dr H Simon in May 1941 was responsible for the operation of the company. She kept in close contact with Mr JJE Forman through correspondence and some of her letters have been included to illustrate the many difficulties and decisions she had to face.

Letter dated 27 January 1941

Letter dated 7 February 1941

Letter dated 19 February 1941

Letter dated 26 May 1941

Letter dated 12 August 1941

Letter dated 12 September 1941