I first went to work for Evode Limited in 1956. At age 16½ I left school with 5 “O” levels and obtained a job as laboratory assistant at Evode, Glover Street.
I was assigned to Brian Pease as his assistant, working on adhesives. The Chemists at that time were “V” Vohralik, Ian (Jock) Anthony, Barry Jackson, Cyril Lawton, Elias Peak was Chief Chemist.
The laboratory was on the first floor above offices and was approached by creaky stairs. I well remember every Friday afternoon was clean up time; benches had to be cleared and covered in clean brown paper kept in place with Sellotape. Working with adhesives was messy work in a smelly room. Downstairs there was a mixing room and a lab sized rubber mill. On the Glover Street site, paints, polishes and bitumens were manufactured; adhesives had already been moved to the new site at Common Road.
I had day release to study at Wolverhampton College. Every week I had to go down to the offices and Laurie Powell would issue “travel warrants” which I exchanged at the railway station for tickets. We were paid in cash weekly, for my weeks work I received £1.12. 6, (£1.62).
This picture is me at around the time I was working in Glover Street. It was actually taken on holiday in Margate. Even on the small weekly wage holidays were possible. I could walk to work and even home for lunch, it was only 5 minutes away. Glover Street was near to Stafford town centre and, each day one of the juniors in the lab would be assigned to go shopping for anything that the Chemists required. It could be tooth paste, hair cream, sandwiches, a pair of socks, etc. We were all keen to have this duty, it got you out of the smell, gave some exercise, and you could do your own shopping as well.
As a perk, once a month, all employees could have an issue of polishes. We always had plenty of shoe polish and mother really liked Dove Lavender furniture polish.
When the time came to move the laboratory to Common Road, there was a lot of excitement and a lot of hard work. As far as I remember we did most of the move ourselves, except for help with the heavy equipment.
At Common Road a new two storey block had been built to house the offices and laboratory. On the ground floor the laboratory had a good sized mixing and mill room, on half of the first floor was open plan laboratory and laboratory offices. There was also a rest room which was used for morning tea breaks, often these would stretch to 45 minutes and there was always a card game.
Evo-Stik was becoming a major product and a TV advert was to appear. Dr Simon had a plush office in the corner of the first floor. I got to see this for the first time when he asked anyone who had seen the advert to go and see him. Either I was the only one, or no one else wanted to admit, but I went to see him. He asked what I thought of the advert, I said it was over too quickly but I did get the catch phrase “Half a tick, use Evo-Stik”. He agreed and thanked me.
It found it quite comical to see the packing line for Evo-Stik, Tins were lined up on a table and the Evo-Stik was poured in from a 1 gallon tin that had been squashed to make a spout. Inner seals were put in place and knocked down with a block of wood, then the screw cap applied by hand. A similar method was used for small tubes, which were then sealed in a hand operated crimper.
Another visit to the Doctors office was whilst he was on holiday. There was a water leak in the laboratory over a whole weekend. The first floor was under water, including his office. It was the only room on site to have carpet. We went to assess the damage, the carpet had to be professionally removed, dried and re-laid. It was on this visit to his office that I noticed his tank of tropical fish. The tank was in the wall between the office and his own private toilet. From the toilet side you could see through into the office. There was also a telephone in the toilet.
I was studying HNC chemistry on day release but having a major disadvantage with not doing proper chemistry at work. I left Evode and went into the food industry where I did analytical chemistry all day.
I was lucky enough to go back to Evode in about 1967. I worked with Dr Counsell in the research laboratory. Hundreds of mixes, hundreds of tests. The Evo-Stik filling was now automated, there were a lot more people. John Chard, one of the senior chemists had the nick name “Zebedee” as he always walked as if he had springs on his feet, like the children’s TV character.
One day I met Dr Simon walking up the factory, “Hello, I haven’t seen you for a while.” He said. I explained that I had been working else where. He replied,“ You couldn’t keep away, though”.
After a while in research, I moved into the newly formed “Licensee Technical Service Laboratory”, working with Jim Langford. From there I went, in 1970 to work for the Dutch Licensee as Laboratory Manager.
Alec Page October 2008