History to me personally has been a dull subject, but I find that Company history is quite deadly. Because of that I have considered it adviseable to garnish my reminiscences with a few personal aspects which, in any case, were bound to creep in from time to time, if only because of the fact that I was associated with the Company for a period of five years before Dr. Simon arrived. I sincerely hope, therefore, that I am not likely to bore you by bringing into my talk tonight some personal comments, particularly so as I feel that several of these have perhaps to some smaller or greater degree helped to shape the image of the company as we know it today, but which, of course, at that time, and I am talking of up to thirty years ago, was really no image, or at least had very little in common with the image of the Group as we understand it today.
It all started in 1933, exactly, 30 years ago, when I was a comparatively carefree young man in my early twenties, and when I was asked whether I would be interested to take a job with a Company manufacturing Polishes. Nothing was mentioned of any specific nature as to the type of work which might be available for me and it was very difficult for me to think myself into any technical position because I had at that time spent several years in Banking Export/Import, and at this particular moment I was exporting textiles to East Africa. However, since in those days I was still ambitious and wanted to improve my position, I said that I was interested at least to learn what it was that could be offered me.
Very soon after I was asked to meet a Mr. Axelrath, an American living in Germany, and in the course of conversation he told me that he would give me letters of introduction to two gentlemen in England on whom he suggested I should call. Towards the middle of 1933, I contacted a Mr. Niclas, a gentleman of Italian origin, in Oxford Street, gave him a letter of introduction and asked him what sort of position he could offer me in the polish manufacturing concern of which I had recently been made aware. Mr. Niclas told me that at the moment the only job he could offer me, was one of Traveller, and that he was prepared offer me 10/- per week with a commission of up to 5%. Since at that time I was earning about £3 or £3-10-0 a week, I did not consider this offer to an improvement on my position, nor of my prospects, and I declined with thanks.
The other letter I had forwarded to Stafford where I understood the Registered Office of the Company was situated, but I received no reply.
It was rather surprising, therefore, when late in 1933 I was informed that the Manager in Stafford, a Nephew of Mr. Axelrath, had suddenly died, and that the position, whilst it had been temporarily filled by a gentleman who had been sent over from Hamburg, would nevertheless be vacant because this particular gentleman was a German and would not be allowed to work in England for any length of time, and I was again asked whether I would be interested to join the Company in a managerial capacity at a commencing salary, I believe, of #4 with a promise of an early increase.That was not the only promise which was made to me because I was told that very shortly I would have hundreds of people working for me and that there was absolutely no stopping the early development of the Company.
I hoped that this was my great opportunity, perhaps the proverbial one which does come but once in a lifetime, and I accepted, little realising at that time what it would mean to me in later life.
In the first instance I was asked to come to Hamburg for 4-6 weeks with all expenses paid, and to study the manufacture of polishes. I received there a very thorough training within that comparatively limited period of time, and very shortly mastered, so far as one can speak of mastering anything within such a short time, the manufacture of shoe polishes in different colours, as well as the manufacture of a floor polish, various types of shoe white in liquid and in paste form, and several other materials of a like nature, and after some five weeks, I believe, I travelled back to England and made my way to Stafford full of enthusiasm and gratification at having seized an opportunity which, in a very short period of time, should put me right on. top of the world. But it was precisely at that point that the many difficulties which we had to undergo started.
The Board of Directors at that time comprised a Mr. Jolles, whom I never met, Mr. Niclas, an Italian of whom I have already spoken, a Mr. Fred Bostock, who was then the Managing Director of Lotus Limited, and an Uncle of Mr. James and Mr. Godfrey Bostock, and subsequently Mr. Oberlaender, the gentleman who came from Hamburg to act as temporary Manager and who, for reasons of Politics, had to be appointed a Director of the Company.
I should perhaps mention here that the Company in Hamburg was a very reputable concern known as Yankee Polish Company, and subsequently Yankee Polish (A. Axelrath and Company). I am quite satisfied that at that time and for some years after they were one of the largest polish manufacturers Germany. To the best of my knowledge Yankee Polish is still manufactured in Germany today.
When I arrived in Stafford I did not exactly find what I had rather anticipated. What I did see was a dilapidated shed, very small in size, with a complement of three girls in the factory and a lady in the office. The size of the building was less than 1,000 sq. yds., and at one end there were three compartments separated one from the other by asbestos sheeting. In the first and furthest one from the road there were three mixing containers, two for the manufacture of shoe and floor polish, and a third for the manufacture of shoe white. In the next compartment there was a ramp on which there were two barrels with turpentine, and next door to this in a little recess there was a gas boiler, an unusual combination and a highly hazardous one under present conditions. In the third compartment we had an office of some kind comprising two desks, a typewriter, and the usual office utensils , all of which were dilapidated. The factory plant itself comprised two longish tables which were used for the filling of polishes and. the, spaces under the tables and on the sides of the walls were for the storage of empty tins, cartons and so on. Part of the building suffered from subsidence and the roof fell at a dangerous angle and appeared to be ready to cave in at any time.
My particular duties were to make the polish, to sell it, and to do all the odd jobs including office work which arose in the course of the normal trading. I made numerous visits to Woolworths, Marks and Spencers and others, I engaged commission representatives, a door to door selling team in the Birmingham area. and tried many other schemes at very little expense to the Company, in the hope of getting a really good basis for a useful and sound turnover. However, whilst I was able to sell Dove Polishes to Woolworths, they insisted on a special type of tin which at that time sold at 1 1/2d. containing about 1 oz. and after having given the sale of this particular tin a try-out for a matter of a month or two, they decided they didn't want any more. Fortunately I was able to interest them at that time also in the Shoe White and that became quite a Good line with Woolworths for a few years or so, but, of course, it was only a seasonal article and the turnover, whilst it was very useful to us, did not amount to sufficient really to make the cut price business with Woolworths worth our while.
At about this time also, a Mr. Clipstone, who was then the Sales Manager of Lotus Ltd. was appointed to the Board, and through him we had many facilities particularly so far as the increase of the sales of polishes to Lotus was concerned. I should here perhaps mention that Lotus purchased tins under their own brand and we also manufactured for the Lennard Shoe people for a while in their own branded tins., but unfortunately this business did not last and, at that particular time polishes were so plentiful that one had to give a very high discount and in addition a bonus of 13 to the dozen or otherwise, and gifts, etc. etc., that only the fittest were really in a position to survive long term credit.
lt would go too far to cite too many instances during the time when I joined the Company early in 1934 to 1938 when Dr. Simon arrived, but it is a fact that on many occasions the closing down of the factory was seriously considered. The difficulty in this respect particularly was that we had no capital resources. Mr. Jolles, one of the Directors, had already resigned from the Board. He was followed soon afterwards by Mr. Niclas. The remaining Directors, of course, looked to Mr. Axelrath as the chief shareholder and founder, to finance the business, but already at the time when I joined there was a very considerable overdraft if one remembers the size of the Factory and also the fact that the turnover was then anything to £100 per week, with expenses mounting all the time and little money coming in from outside. That meant, of course, that the finance had to be subsidised by Mr. Bostock, with his own money, because, after all, he was not interested to put money from Lotus into Spic & Span Shoe Polishes Ltd. and on numerous occasions mentioned to Mr. Axelrath that the best thing to do under the circumstances would be to close the factory down or at least to reconstitute the Board and arrange for someone with money in this country to join it.
Over the five years in question, Mr. Axelrath managed to put this idea off time and time again and also reminded me on various occasions that it would certainly be to my benefit were I not to seek employment elsewhere, which I had suggested to him once or twice, because you can probably well understand how frustrating my own position became knowing that the people with whom I maintained close contact in Stafford felt that the business should be liquidated, whereas the man who had employed me in Hamburg, and with whom I solely maintained contact through the post, wanted me to stay on. To illustrate this point:
Soon after I started to work as Manager of the Company, Mr. Axelrath suggested that I should take £6 salary but this I felt quite unable to do for the simple reason that we had considerable difficulties in paying our day to day expenses and not only could I not take the extra £2 which had been promised me as extra salary in the Company, but I did not take any salary at all for some time, having to exist on the few savings which I had then.
A further great difficulty was in regard to paying invoices to suppliers, particularly for tins and the necessary raw materials such as Carnauba, Bees and Paraffin Wax, Turpentine and so on, and one little incident will perhaps illustrate best how we fared about these sort of things. Very often we knew and when I say we I mean Mrs. Wood who subsequently became Mrs. Peak and retired as a Director of the Company a few years ago, and I, when we could expect representatives from suppliers to visit us, and we also knew what was our overdue account with them. Whenever such a visit was anticipated we made sure that the doors were locked and one particular incident which was quite funny springs to my mind.
A representative from Aston Boisselier from whom we bought one or two waxes was expected at a certain time, and when the lookout girl told us that he was coming down the road we locked the doors and remained quiet. After about ten minutes or so I made my way with one of the doors and looked through the keyhole, and lo and behold on the other side there was an eye looking at me. so the two of us were less than an inch apart from each other and what each of us thought of the other I just don't know. I am sure I must have felt frightfully embarassed at the time but I certainly retraced my steps gracefully without making any noise, kidding myself that the gentleman on the other side of the door had not realised that I was looking at him from such close quarters. The great difficulty was., of course. that it was wellnigh impossible for Mr. Axelrath to send us any money. Currency restrictions in those days were already so severe that he would not have dared., especially as he was a foreigner in Germany, to contravene them., and it was only very occasionally that whenever he was abroad,, or through some of his business associates in one part of the world or the other, we were able to obtain a few pounds, and 1 mean a few pounds., sometimes a matter of £2 or #5 a time hardly ever more., and you can also imagine of what little value a promise to me was to increase my salary After all it was quite impossible to extract blood from a stone. Even my Father, an Englishman living in Germany, had to assist by having sterling transferred to us against Marks which Mr. Axelrath paid into my Father's account in Germany.
The position throughout was getting from bad to worse. Mr. Oberlaender had since left the Board (and I had been appointed a Director on it) and whilst Mr. Fred Bostock and Mr. Clipstone, then the Directors, did their utmost to help, they found it impossible to do more than they were already doing and they looked to Mr. Axelrath to pull something special out of the bag, which it was only towards 1937 that he could do. I should mention here, of course, that the War clouds were gathering and becoming darker all the time and Mr. Axelrath was already, I am quite sure., under some pressure in Germany for reasons which will no doubt be obvious, and I realised that it would not be long if a War should come that he would have to leave that country and probably go to the United States.
That again might have meant that the business would be closed down in Stafford. You can readily imagine that all the trials and tribulations through which we had to go at that time became very frustrating. We had two Travellers, both elderly gentlemen and both working for a commission only, who were doing fairly well, so far as turnover was concerned; the business with Lotus had not improved to any great extent, and whilst we were still endeavouring to get in on a larger scale with people like Woolworths, Marks and Spencers, Army and Navy Stores., Civil Service Stores and so on and so forth., it took a tremendous time and quite some money travelling, preparing samples, preparing special tins, special designs, and so on, before we could see any result from our many endeavours, and, in the end those results remained so limited that they hardly proved the worth of the efforts expended.
It must not be overlooked also that we were only able to live from hand to mouth. and by that I mean that we could only purchase at a time the smallest possible quantities of tins. the smallest possible amount of raw materials, all, of course, at the highest prices, and it took us quite some time before we were in a position to satisfy our suppliers with payments. I will read to you extracts from letters which I exchanged with Mr. Axelrath at the time about our account with Metal-Box company which will give you some idea of the tight corner in which we found ourselves and which, at any time, could have meant our ceasing to do business at all for lack of availability of containers which were, of course, an essential for our trading at that time. Because of the censoring of mail both to and from Germany, Mr. Axelrath and I had some time ago already adopted a coding whereby instead of referring to pounds sterling we spoke of "tins" and sometimes even of' "beans" and. when it came to referring to overdraft we simply abbreviated this to O.D. and so on because we felt that if at any time a letter should be opened if we referred to the, despatch or receipt of tins that. in association with our business, might be a logical explanation.
Subsequently, of course, it proved that in a number of instances our references to "tins" had been viewed by Censors with some suspicion, but that is something to which I shall refer later. The Board had since also been changed and Mr. F.M. Bostock as well as Mr. J.F. Bostock and Mr. Clipstone were the Directors. However, they wanted to resign again as soon as a meeting with Mr. Axelrath in this country had been possible, when they wanted a reconstituted Board to take charge of the affairs of the Company. It was with some considerable relief that, at last, a turn for the better was envisaged by Mr. Axelrath when he informed me some time during October 1937 that he had made contact with another party in Germany which appeared likely to join us. The party in question turned out to be Dr. Simon about whose first arrival in this country for purpose of a meeting with me was envisaged some time in November or December of 1937. 1 met Dr. Simon in Stafford and subsequently again in Hamburg and that was the time when our close association, which has lasted for so very many years, first of all commenced.
However, this was another instance where it was a matter of jumping from the frying pan into the fire because although Dr. Simon's arrival and subsequent association with what was still Spic and Span Shoe Polishes was the turning point of the Company, because of the other activities from that time onwards there was many a heartache and more trials and tribulations to follow before we could really set out and develop the business to a point from which it had no turning back. Very briefly, and so far as I remember the position, Dr. Simon sold out in Germany because he was not allowed to take any German currency abroad with him, he managed to get some of his furniture over to this country, also a car, and what little money was left him from selling his interests in the Company, of which he was a Partner, I believe, in Germany, he used for purchasing a round the world travel ticket for himself, his wife and two daughters. Andrew of course was a later arrival and was, in fact, born in Wolverhampton.
I am not in the picture as to the amount of money which Dr. Simon invested in Spic and Span Shoe Polishes, but in all probability it was arranged between him and Mr. Axelrath at the time. Needless to say Mr. Axelrath was consequently bought out and ceased to have any interest in Spic and Span Shoe Polishes. He continued as a successful businessman in the United States, first in manufacturing polishes and allied products, as he did in Germany, and subsequently he concentrated on the production of impregnated polishing cloths, of which, of course we took over some manufacturing interest for a period of time as is probably known to many of you because polishing cloths were only disposed of a couple of years ago, but we were then dealing with Mr. Axelrath's Company rather than with him because by that time he had already retired from business.
The worst period in the lives both of Dr. Simon and myself came soon after the outbreak of the War. I don't want to bother you with personal matters unduly, but you may be interested to learn that my Father, an Englishman, was interned in Germany during the first World War for a period of about five years and my Mother had to report to the Police at regular intervals. It may, therefore, surprise some of you to learn that I, always a British subject, was detained in this country for a period of about, fifteen months, but that isn't all. Dr. Simon went into internment even before me but in his case, fortunately, he was only away for nine months. All this started because, of course, it was known that the Company was then run by a foreigner and that, on the one side our factory bordered on the local utilities and on the other on the Hospital, and since we were using at least inflammable solvents, which was probably something which appeared in an exaggerated form in the minds of people in Authority in Stafford, this was regarded as a great hazard for the welfare of Stafford, and something had to be done about it.
Dr. Simon was vetted with other aliens in this country and had to appear before a Tribunal in Stafford. Looking back to that time it seems quite humorous to remember that the Superintendent of the Stafford Police invited me to act as translator for the Judge who headed this Tribunal, and whilst the Judge and I sat on one side of the table. Dr. Simon and others appeared before us on the other, and I was able to tell the Judge that the gentleman before us was very well known to me and that I would vouch for him. As a result of this investigation Dr. Simon was graded as a Class 'C' alien which really gave him the maximum possible freedom allocated to aliens at that particular time.
Looking back the whole thing seems ludicrous, but it is a fact. Dr. Simon had meanwhile purchased a house in St. John's Road, diagonally opposite the one where he is living now, and he and his family had come over during February of 1938. He had immediately commenced his activities of manufacturing such products as Mellitol, fireproofing solutions for wood and textiles and paints, camouflage paints, and generally speaking products which he knew of some of which he considered would represent good sellers particularly in the time of War, about which there then existed little doubt that it would take place, sooner or later.
However, all this made little difference to the fate which was in store, both for Dr. Simon and myself and on June 26th, 1940, Dr. Simon was interned. he went to Huyton and subsequently to, I believe, Douglas on the Isle of Man. His case was mentioned by Lord Farringdon in the House of Lords on August 15th. On June 27th the Board of Trade took over the temporary management of the Company's affairs, and barely a month later, on July 29th, 1941, I was told that because of my "hostile origin and associations" I would be detained under Defence Regulation 18B which was originated by Sir John Anderson. 1 was taken to Stafford Police Station and then spent a most uncomfortable two days in Walton Gaol, after which I was transferred with about 1,000 others comprising Jews, Fascists, aliens, Englishman, young and old, to Ascot where we lived in buildings usually occupied by Bertram Mills Circus animals.
Subsequently we were transferred to Huyton where Dr. Simon had only just then left and finally to Peel on the Isle of Man, from where I was released in October of 1941 after, as I have already said, some 15 months detention. It was most unfortunate but, of course, no-one in this country was prepared to care for people who were detained under this Defence Regulation, and the whole business was most unpleasant.
It took the Tribunal a very long time before it was ready to listen to what we had to say in defence of my detention, and it took many more months after we had been heard before the result of the Hearing was made known to us. You must not overlook that at that time London was blitzed and many buildings on the outskirts of London where we were at that time were also affected, meaning, of course, that the Tribunal had to move about a great deal and in the usual manner of Civil Servants it took a very very long time to deal with our appeals.
Meantime in Stafford things were going on under the management of the gentlemen who had been placed in charge by the Board of Trade, and it is perhaps quite interesting that I have before me a letter dated 17th July, 1940 which is signed by Mr. D. Gordon, one of the two Managers, in which he said - "Dear Mr. Forman., I have to advise you that Mr. Wilkins has authorised me to arrange for payment of a sum of £25 to you in recognition of the help which you have rendered to the Managers for the time being. Very considerate since less than a fortnight later I was detained. During my stay in Ascot, Mrs. Wood came to see me several times in order to discuss the running of the business with me, and by hook or by crook we managed to keep things going. The name of the Company had meanwhile been changed from Spic and Span Shoe Polishes to Dove Chemical Products, but following, some remonstration by Wailes Dove Bitumastic, who considered that confusion between our respective materials could arise, we turned the name Dove" inside out and affixed the letter 'E' at the end, making it Evode, and at that time the name of the Company was Evode Chemical Works Ltd. Wailes Dove paid for the expenses.
The Managers acting on behalf of the Board of Trade had concluded their investigations into the affairs of the Company which they stated they had found as having been conducted satisfactorily, and they suggested that the Board of Trade resign from the management of Evode Chemical Works Ltd. However, it was strongly suggested that alternative premises be found because of the proximity, as 1 have already mentioned, of the Hospital on the one side and the Public Utilities on the other. Premises which were not suitable, but certainly better than nothing at all, were finally located at 22 Stone Road, and it was there that I rejoined the Company in October of 1941 after been duly released from detention.
Dr. Simon had fortunately already been released previous to that and, the business in Stone Road was in full swing on my arrival. We were particularly busy with the manufacture of frost protective, and in the mornings we had many lorries queuing up outside our factory waiting for their 1,000 gallons or so of Evode frost protective, as it was known then, in 40 gallon drums, which they took to all parts of the country where the material was used primarily in the construction of runways on aerodromes etc. etc. We also waterproofed static water tanks, manufactured Mellitol and other commodities and, of course, polishes.
The polishes were manufactured in the basement and we worked in two shifts; although we were unable to obtain the customary raw materials we managed with alternatives of rather inferior quality but nevertheless polishes were in tremendous demand because of the restricted quota allocation system. We often had wholesalers coming to visit us with butter and other goods in short supply in an effort to obtain just a few dozens of shoe polishes or floor polishes. I will not say at this stage whether such gifts were ever accepted or not. I leave you to guess that.
This was, of course, the time when the Company really started to unfold. We worked from early morning until very late at night. We worked weekends, we worked throughout the holidays, and there was just no let-up at all. The Company even asked for my exemption from Military Service which was granted. In order to be able to cope with the very many orders which we received at Government level for particularly Evode Frost Protective, we had to engage men from St. George's Hospital in Stafford as part-time workers to help us get out the goods. I will just give you one instance of the sort of activities that went on in Stone Road.
There were four storeys and we received the calcium chloride in a solid state in drums weighing about 7 Cwts. These drums had to be manhandled on the outside for softening up with sledge hammers weighing 7 or even 10 or 14 lbs. I cannot remember now, although I was on that job every day, and after that the metal was cut with an axe right across and down the sides so that the solid calcium chloride lumps fell on to the concrete floor where they were knocked into smaller pieces still with the sledge hammers then the lot was shovelled into a stone crushing machine from where it went into drums, these drums were weighed in the yard where we were working, and then some four or five drums, each with about 1 Cwt. were hauled up by a hand manipulated winch to the top floor where the material was taken by trolley across the floor, pushed down chutes into barrels on the floor below where Dr. Simon and several of the men were mixing by stirring the calcium chloride with H20 hot and adding what I will simply term the other ingredients, producing thereby the customary high quality Evode product.
I cannot remember now how many thousands of gallons we turned out every day in this fashion, but the quantities were terrific considering the comparatively small number of workers and restricted access and outdated plant we had. From taps in the barrels in the third storey rubber hoses were run through a hole in the factory wall down into the yard again where one or two men directed the flow of the material into the 40 gallon drums. The bungs were then screwed tight and the drums rolled into position for collection by the next lorry. Most of us from exema in those days originating, course, from the contact with the calcium chloride and our clothes, although we wore sou'westers and oilskins, were absolutely saturated. I remember only too well that my legs and arms were always swathed in bandages and when I took them off at night or in the morning, perhaps after having worked the night shift of making polishes as well, they were absolutely saturated with salt solution, but we survived and made good and that was the main thing because I like to think that we, at Evode Chemical Works, made, some contribution to the final and outcome of the War Effort.
As soon as this was possible after the War, we returned to the premises in Glover Street which, of course, during the past ten years had been repaired. The roof, for instance had been been waterproofed by our materials, and many other improvements been made the use of this single storey building a very great improvement over the four storeys in Stone Road. Not only that, but we took over a very much larger Factory space because we were now well equipped, financially and otherwise, not only to have to restrict our activities in what used to be the part of Glover Street Factory but also that which had been used very largely by the Universal Grinding Company for of their raw materials, and we also took over the house for office accomodation. The ground floor of this was initially much like a stable still having the troughs in position, but it generally a very great improvement in that we had several offices, and although we did sit two or three in a combined space, there was nevertheless far greater privacy than there been before.
The business kept expanding all the time and fairly soon after removing to Glover Street, and after having sustained a rather serious fire there, we found that we, were unable to cope adequately with the many orders and the great amount of work imposed on us and our large range of large range of materials so that it became essential for us to look for more spacious premises. It took us several years to find something in or around Stafford and we went as far as Stone where we thought we might be able to Government building which is now occupied by Quickfit & Quartz. We also went to Hixon where there were a large number of prefabricated buildings, I believe used by Ministry during the War and we went for some ten miles radius of Stafford in an effort to locate something useful.
In fact we had already made up our minds to seize an offer made to us to go down to Crayford in Essex (I believe that was the name of the place) and leave Stafford altogether when we heard of the ex-brickyard in Common Road, and upon negociating about the purchase, we bought the plot which now houses our Factory. At that time, there were just one or two dis-used kilns in evidence and, of course, the chimney. We arranged to have the boiler house placed near to the chimney so we could make greatest use of this piece of construction. The hanger was also there, but other than that there were only one or two dilapidated buildings and most of the buildings which were on the site were dismantled and the bricks used for hard core.
In 1954 we moved out of Glover Street with the Adhesives Division initially, and followed with the other sections, and in 1956 with the offices. Meanwhile one of our employees, a Chemist, Mr. Wood, had been set up as Manager of Evode Industries Ltd. in Swords, Dublin, and soon after our removal to Common Road, Vik Supplies was taken over as a subsidiary of the Company, from Lotus Ltd. In 1962 all Polish interests were sold because it was no proposition for us to deal with only one section of retail trading, when some 30,000 or so accounts were involved. You can well imagine the terrific amount of work which this entailed. Finally, of course, in 1963 we became a public company, chiefly for reasons of death duty payment which you can imagine are terrific and if the Shares are held privately death duty can be very very high and can easily be crippling to a Company which requires financial support all along the line.
Just to recapitulate on one or two points, I would like to mention that the Company was first incorporated under the name of Spic and Span Shoe Polishes Ltd. on June 3rd, 1932. At an Extraordinarily General Meeting held on April 27th, 1938, the name of the Company was changed to Spic and Span Chemical Products Ltd., whereas at an Extraordinary General Meeting hold on September 26th, 1938, the name of the Company became Dove Chemical Products Ltd., but as I already mentioned earlier on, because of some remonstration by Wailes Dove Bitumastic. we changed the name again from Dove Chemical Products Ltd. to Evode Chemical Works Ltd., and finally to Evode Ltd.
The Board of Directors had also been reconstituted on several occasions. During part of the War years there was only Mr. Clipstone actively on the Board, but in 1941, at an Extraordinary General Meeting held on the 30th January of that year, the number of Directors was increased to five altogether, comprising Dr. Simon, Mr. Clipstone, Mr. Bainbridge, Mrs. Wood and myself. The reason for this was to further the withdrawal of the Board of Trade control over our business and the, release of Dr. Simon, whose presence was essential to the continuance and expansion of the business. The two newcomers were Mr. Harry Bainbridge, who represented Mr. Axelrath who was still then the largest Shareholder, at that time in New York. The other newly appointed Director was, of course, Mrs. Wood who had previously acted as secretary for the Company. I have a photograph here showing Dr. & Mrs. Simon in the centre, with my wife and myself on their right, followed by Mr. & Mrs. Hembrow, and on Dr. Simon's left you will see Mrs. Wood, Mr. Hadley who subsequently acted Secretary of the Company, having joined us from the Universal Grinding Wheel Company. Next to him is Mr. Wood and then Mr. & Mrs. Moseley. Behind Mrs. Moseley on the outside you will see Mr. Cyril Lawton who has recently completed his 25 years of service with the Company. In the front row next to Johnny & Helga Forman, you will see Petra Simon and Marion Simon, and on the extreme right looking at the photograph is Mr. Duffin's daughter. The photograph was taken on the occasion of the social gathering of the whole of the personnel of the Company, and it was taken in about 1947/48 in St. Paul's Church Hall, I believe it is called.
Another picture which I have here shows three girls lidding Dove Floor Polish, and, the third photograph shows the first buildings in Common Road. You will notice that what is today a car park was then very much waste land, and you will also observe that the Laboratory Block is missing and that the house looks extremely new, in fact 1 would, say that it had only just been completed. If you look carefully to the chimney in the background, you will see that the lettering which was prominently displayed on it, Stafford Brick, is still partly visible.
Among some other documents which I still have are balance sheets, and the first one under the name of Dove Chemical Products Ltd. is dated 1938, and gives the names of Directors, John James Ernest Forman, Managing, Hermann Simon, Harold Isaac Clipstone. It shows that the subscribed and paid up capital was £6,064 and that the loss for the period of that year to 1st October, 1938, was £1,740. The next balance sheet I have is dated 1940, the Directors are given as Harold Isaac Clipstone, Chairman, Harry Bainbridge, John James Ernest Forman,, Hermann Simon, and Doris Irene Wood. It shows that the subscribed and paid up capital was then £7,064, and that the profit for the year to 30th September, 1940, which was still subject to excess profits tax, was £1,055. The two Directors who signed the document were Mr. H.I. Clipstone and Mrs. D.I.Wood, in the absence of course, of two other Directors who at that time were behind barbed wire and could not therefore append their respective signatures to this most valuable document which appears to have been the first showing actual profit made over a period of one year.
However, in 1941 with the names of the Directors were the same, the position is that the subscribed and paid up capital was still £7,064, but that a small loss had been, incurred of £534. The Directors signing the document were Mr. Clipstone and Dr. Simon. In this document a motor car at cost, less depreciation, to the value of £30, is also mentioned. Plant and machinery at cost less depreciation amounted to £310, whereas the fixtures and fittings to which Mr. Lawton recently drew attention when he referred to the very meagre means with which we had to conduct our research and development. amounted to £33, quite a royal sum under those difficult conditions. The removal during that year from Glover Street to Stone Road, including installation expenses, amounted to £98, whereas buildings and heating system was put down at cost less 10% with the sum of £321. The Bank overdraft was in a very healthy condition and amounted to £247.
In 1943 still under the name of Evode Chemical Works Ltd., the Directors being the same, the profit is shown as £1,377 whereas in 1944 the profit is £1,550 and the motor car referred to two years earlier now appears with a value of £220, whereas fixtures and fittings at cost, less depreciation, are £115. There is now no mention of overdraft at the Bank, but cash at Bank and in hand is given at over £500. Surely a very healthy state of affairs. The next balance sheet is 1946 and the names of the Directors now are Hermann Simon, Chairman, John James Ernest Forman, Doris Irene Wood, Isobel Frances Bostock, and Diana Bostock, with H.E. Hadley as Secretary. H. Simon and John Forman were the Directors who signed that statement. We have now several motor cars which are shown at cost, less depreciation, to the value of £240. Taxation was pretty stiff and amounted to £2,600 odd, whereas the debtors were £14,800 several times the amount they were only a year or two previous to that. The current assets at the time were over £21,000. So you can see how progressively the position improved all the time.
I have also before me a weekly order statement which shows that for the week ending 9th October, 1943, direct orders amounted to £86, Mr. Yudolph, Waterproofing Contracts, £54, Mr. Yudolph, direct orders, £55, Mr. F. Folgate, a representative, £46, Mr. Tagger, another representative, £21, and Mr. Jenkins £16, making in all for orders received during that week £281 in value, against which we had £273 representing expenses, and during that week we were able to pay against purchase invoices the princely sum of £335 with a balance in the bank of £1,297.
A week earlier we find that direct orders amounted to £136, Mr. Fishburn, Waterproofing Contracts, £149, Mr. Fishburn's other orders £12, Mr. Yudolph £5, Mr. Tagger £55, and Mr. Jenkins £36, making in all value of orders received during that week £396.
Among other exhibits which you are welcome to inspect I have two photographs showing an earlier attempt of our Polish Department to participate favourably in the Stafford Pageant. Also a few leaflets which were issued from the lorry which participated in the Pageant and with which there was included in an envelope a small tin of Dove Polish. Anyone who is interested can also have a look at the cell which I occupied in Walton Gaol for a few days, and, of which I made a very rough drawing at the time. Finally, from those days a drawing made by someone by the name of Collins of myself in Ascot in 1940 and the Coat of Arms of the 18B detainees. I have also copy of the Staffordshire Chronicle here dated December 28th, 1950, giving the development of Stafford Industry during the previous year, and, what is perhaps important is that under Evode Ltd. Item 4 reads as follows:-
A new venture to the interesting variety of the Company's products. This section for the present supplies its Evo-Stik cements solely to Shoe Manufacturers. A new range of Adhesives based on rubber latex and synthetic resins, particularly suitable for the building and other industries is ready for production as soon as new plant has been installed. Despite difficulties particularly with regard to the supply of raw materials, 1950 has seen a successful further development of the activities of Evode Ltd., yet leaving ample scope for further expansion.
At the head of the article we find that the turnover of the Company increased by 45% over the previous year. You will no doubt remember that I told you that Mr. Axelrath was an American citizen, but I believe that he had come from the East many years ago and his English was not too good. I will read. to you a short extract from a letter which he wrote to me on November 22nd, 1934:-
'Dear Mr. Forman - With the leaving of Mr. Oberlaender it will more and more be necessary that you free yourself from time to time to look after the selling end of the game. You remarked the last time that you had in mind a woman which you would break in so that she could take care of things.'
And from a letter dated January 21st, 1935:-
"And I believe that the guns should not be thrown up. On the contrary you should stick to the guns until the ultimate success is assured and success will be yours if you stick it out. Of course in the meantime expenses have to be cut down to a minimum and every effort should be made to increase the turnover."
You will also remember that I mentioned to you that we never referred to pounds when money was under consideration, especially anything sent by Mr. Axelrath or his friends and I see here from his letter dated 18th June, 1935, that he says:-
"You undoubtedly received 25 tins from my friends which will make towards an improvement of your stock. Did you deliver any of your tins."
That of course meant had we made any further payments to creditors.
In connection with the currency business again, there is a letter here from Mr. Axelrath dated March 31st., 1936, in which he says:-
"By the way did Mr. Fred get two packages of' 25 tins each. You only spoke of one package."
On April 27th, 1936, he writes: "I am told that you will receive 100 tins from one of your customers. Perhaps you will look into the matter."
And a little later again In June of that year he says:-
"Sending you in two letters, two tins each left over. You can acknowledge when received."
In August of 1936, he made the position quite clear when he wrote to me:-
'One of your last letters was opened. Perhaps it would be better that you do not mention pounds. Just say 181 O.D. instead of overdraft. Mention figures only in the rarest of occasions.'
In another letter he says:-
"By the way your Father is sending 80 boxes of shoe polish for trial. I would suggest you keep them for a while until you hear further."
You will appreciate that my Father, although an Englishman, worked in Germany, and it was comparatively simple for him to receive from Mr. Axelrath German Marks and then have pounds transferred from his Bank Account in England, to our Company. I also mentioned earlier on that this question of referring tins instead of to pounds made itself unfavourably felt subsequently, and to in fact during my interrogation in the 18B episode I was asked to what these tins, and in some instances the word "beans" referred, which had been found mentioned in some correspondence between Mr. Axelrath and myself, and, of course, I had no hesitation at all in giving full information on what the references to tins etc. referred to and that it was only adopted to allay any suspicion which the German Censors might have had, had Mr. Axelrath in his correspondence referred to pounds sterling.
Mr. Axelrath I should mention was a very good Salesman because I told you at the outset that he mentioned to me that very soon I would have hundreds of people working under me and I have here a letter dated 12th April, 1935, which reads as follows:-
"Dear Mr. Forman - I received your letters of the 8th, 9th and 10th, and more than happy to see your fine spirit. You will not regret it for acting in this way. At the same time you are giving more and more evidence that you are deserving every consideration. You may rest assured I will stick to you to the limit. In the meantime be cheerful, enjoy yourself and keep in good health. That is the principal thing."
In another instance again he makes, business sound so very easy. He says here in a letter dated 11th March, 1935:-
In connection with the Woolworths business, when you see Mr. Baxter I would suggest that you strongly recommend that they put up a little table on a frequented spot in the Store, say at the door, and a good sales girl should attend to that table. You could suggest that you would be willing to pay for the girl while she is demonstrating for Dove. If you could carry this through for two or three weeks in each Store, then your worries would soon be over, as the product would be well introduced all over and sell itself. The thing is now that you try as hard as you can to convince or sell the idea to Mr. Baxter.
Needless to say, when I proposed this idea to Mr. Baxter of Woolworths he said he was very sorry but near all entrance doors they had foodstuffs and it would be quite impossible to demonstrate Polishes. In fact, it would be quite impossible at that time to demonstrate Polishes at all, anywhere in the building.
In a letter dated January 1935, he says:-
"As long as you stick to me and we make a little headway, then there is nothing on earth to scare us off."
You will also remember that I said to you that Mr. Axelrath was always ready to advise me to take on more labour, which, of course, became financially impossible. Here in a letter dated 16th March, 1936, he says:-
"Sorry to hear that you are only working with one girl. It may be a little too much for you. Do not be stingy in that respect. When you see that there is work do not hesitate to get the necessary help. Your health is more important than anything else."
Of course I fully concurred with his sentiments but I didn't see what remedy there was available to me at that time.
And in his usual generous strain, in June 1937, for instance, he says:-
"It would please me to hear that you are increasing hereafter your drawings by one tin or thereabouts." Suggesting, of course, that I should increase my salary by £1 or so, but I am afraid that the answer was very much the same as on previous occasions when I just felt that there was insufficient funds available from which to pay any increase in salary to myself.
The first official intimation of Dr. Simon's arrival is contained in a letter dated 17th October, 1937, in which Mr. Axelrath says:-
"Glad to inform you that the matter "Z" is now definitely arranged and it in only a question of a short time until it can assume practical forms. You might write to "Z" that you have received the samples and it would be useful if he could see his way clear to come over to see you to talk matters over."
('Z' in this instance refers to Zimmer & Co., in which Company in Germany Dr. Simon was a partner.)
A little later on December 4th, 1937, Mr. Axelrath again writes:-
"Mr. S. is going over next month. I will not be there until the first week in January. Glad to hear that you will make do until then. At any rate, at a pinch you know what to do. I spoke to your Father yesterday and he told me that he would send you some samples of the new product so you can try it out in case you are interested."
All this talk., of course, refers to money.
Then there is another letter dated November 30th, 1937, in which Mr. Axelrath tells me: "Dr. Simon is going over next week. I think he wants to see about living quarters etc. and it is quite definite now that he will start early next year with you."
One other thing which I don't think I have yet mentioned fully refers to the fact that we had to raise all our containers in the factory at Glover Street by about 6" from the floor because not only did we get rainwater through the roof regularly, but also because the water simply came up through the concrete floor. The drainage system ran from Foregate Street, down Glover Street, through our premises right centre in the middle of the roadway, and then emptied out into the river. Very often we had heavy transformers coming down Glover Street to get to the back of the Factory, which was the property of the Midlands Electricity Board and these heavy transformers caused the earthenware pipes to break, with the result that not only did the rainwater from Foregate Street assemble at the lowest point, which was right in the middle of our Factory, but when the river water rose it in turn threw all the water from the river which lay above the lowest point of the drainage pipe back, and that water in turn assembled at the lowest point in the middle of our factory and the pressure from the water was such that it simply rose up through the concrete floor and flooded us out. I have here a letter from Dr. Simon which throws some light on this subject, dated 31st July, 1946, and is addressed to me in Linden where I spent a holiday at the time. It says:-
Dear John - I am glad that you were able to leave for your holidays on Friday morning as 1 am afraid that the nervous strain to which you would have been exposed on Friday afternoon would not have been any good for you. Within half an hour of a cloudburst, the paint remover shed, alias stable, as well as the Mellitol room, were completely flooded. Some water penetrated from the back into the Polish shed and each time a lorry went by it sent waves of water into the Polish room. However, you need not worry as we were able to move all the powders in time and all the cartons in the Polish Department are nicely stacked up about 1 foot above floor level. I have shown Mr. Buchanan what happens and he had the flood water pumped away. In any case he has now seen for himself the seriousness of the situation and steps have already been taken concerning the provision of proper drainage."
Dr. Simon then goes on to say:-
"Yesterday we have been manufacturing Mellitol and all outstanding orders, together with 6 Cwts. for one of Mr. MePhee's customers, will have left by tomorrow."
I hope that with this talk I have been able to give you a little insight into the struggle which which we had in the early days of the Company, and I hope that the spirit of co-operation and the endeavour to do the best for the Company will prevail, because it is those qualities alone, I am sure, which over the years have made Evode and the Evode Group what it is today.