I was born in the Potteries, but moved to Wheaton Aston near Stafford for my health. I had double pneumonia twice before I was 12 months old. The only jobs dad got were on farms, he had left school to work on farms and we lived in tithed cottages.
I went to the C of E school at Wheaton Aston, we called it the Wheaton Aston College! I left at 15 and went to work on Sydney Gammage’s farm on the A4 but left after 12 months as I didn’t feel I was getting on fast enough. I then went to work on a farm at Long Gorse between Penkridge and Church Eaton, Prinnells, it was a small holding which only had me working there. The owner would go out contracting so I did most of the work while he went out ploughing.
I was deferred out of the army I’d been working with Prinnell’s son who’d chopped a damson tree down at the weekend and he’d got a thorn in his finger which went septic so he was off school. We’d been carting potatoes for George Edwards, and he said bring 2 tractors. I had to drive the tractors over the road to the airfield at Little Onn then the son could drive whilst I loaded the potatoes. When the first one was full he said he’d drive it back, but I said no we’ll load two and take two, it was the only way I’d get a breather!
We went back for the milking, 40 cows in one shed 5 heifers in another. The son came to give me a hand whilst his dad watched TV. I asked him if he wanted to put the milking machine on the 40 cows or on the others. I preferred him to stay with the 40 cows as the 5 heifers, newly milkers gave more trouble. But he said he’d stay . I went ahead but one of the cows had kicked the milking machine there was milk running everywhere the son was sat on a stool watching the milk and as I ran past him I knocked him with my fist so he ran crying to his mum and dad. His mom came out saying she couldn’t make any sense of me, I pointed out the milk running away saying that was where the profit went, then his father came out saying take no notice ‘We’ll have you in the army’ they said. I was finished a week later then the next week my army papers came but I failed my medical I don’t know why, I didn’t stop to find out why.
I then went to Wimpey, but they always laid you off in the winter so when I was laid off I went delivering coal for Arthur Goodman of Penkridge till I was laid off so I went to BRC then I got pleurisy. I did a 'local' run from Stafford to Bristol where I had to do 8 drops which was difficult.
Then I went to Humphries on Friars Terrace, lorry driving. Three of us were supposed to be drivers but the lorry wasn’t fir to be on the road so we all agreed that if they didn’t do anything about it, we would. I was sent to Bamfords with a load of shovels and buckets, but they were sent back because the welds weren’t good enough. Half way up Weston Bank the lorry seized up and I was then sacked as I’d broken the lorry!! This was the only job I was ever sacked from.
I then went to the gasworks as a fitters mate with John Collies. He’d go missing for hours 'where have you been Jack?’ I’d ask ‘I’ve almost finished the job’ He’d been standing talking!!
From here I went to Gwenaps at Bednall Head delivering and collecting agricultural machinery. I loved this job It was about this time (1963) that Jean and I wanted to get married but could see no prospects of buying a house so she had a brain wave of self-build and she looked into it and talked to solicitors and we started. But I couldn’t do both my job and self-build. They'd think nothing of coming to you telling you to take two bales to Bridgenorth and bring one back so I went building with Peter Ryan as a plasterers mate, but the bad weather laid me off. The chap we worked for Charlie Watts asked me to work for him driving, so I did that for 5 years. I was married by then.
We decided that we wanted to start a family, but when nothing happened Jean went to Groundslow, I asked Charlie of I could work locally as I used to go out on contract. The came for Jean to go in, Monday Morning, I was on one of our sites when the phone went Charlie said I must pack my kit up and go to a place behind the Hand and Cleaver at Ranton they were building a house and their JCB digger driver couldn’t do it I told the forman that without guarantees of getting me home to see my wife I wouldn’t go. He said he’d call me back in a few minutes When I asked about getting back they said I’d have to get my own way back. I told then Jean was in hospital and Charlie said he’d buy a landrover and tractor, but I said I needed it that day! I needed to see my wife in hospital. Anyway they dropped me off on West Way at 6.30 I had to walk to Hyde lea, get washed and changed and drive over but when I got there visiting time was over so the next day I went to Evode and got a job.
I did just under 25 years at Evode and am an Honorary member of the Evode 25 Club. I like to go to the dinners and have a good chat.
I started at Evode in the can stores, then Brian Smith came over and asked me if I’d go into Rupert’s gang and help out in the powder stores upstairs in the Adhesives. He asked if I’d tidy it up so I tidied it up The insurance inspectors came round and said they’d never seen a store, which kept what we did, so well kept Ray Allsop came and told me “That’s one in the eye for the”!
I started to get high blood pressure so went to work outside, then Brian Smith came to me, building 36 was in a mess so I went to sort that out.
Princess Ann came to visit. Noel Bevans was in charge of security and he said put Harold on the gate, he knows everybody I was so busy watching everyone coming in and out that I never got to see her.