Chapter 5


Released to help Britain's war effort


In early January 1941 discussions took place with representatives of the Board of Trade which resulted in two additional directors being appointed. The Board then comprised four British citizens which would help to strengthen the case being made for the release of Dr. Simon as well as withdrawal of the BoT control over the company. Due to the pleas by Lord Farrington in the House of Lords in August 1940 and Mr. Bainbridge, a Director of the company, in February 1941 that Hermann could offer considerable support to the war effort in terms of the products which Evode could manufacture, his release from internment was granted on 3rd. April 1941. It was not until October 1941 that the release of Mr. Forman was granted. He rejoined the company immediately.

Dr. Simon recommenced his employment with Evode on 30th. May 1941 at an agreed weekly wage of £15.00.

He found that the company had suffered severe setbacks during his absence due to his and Mr. Forman`s detention, essential raw materials becoming unobtainable, the company being taken over by the Board of Trade and the enforced movement to other premises. Consequently the profit and loss account for the six months ending 31st. March 1941 showed a very poor state of affairs.

He knew that Ministry of Defence approval for his building chemical products was essential for the company to survive. A great deal of time and effort was spent supplying samples to Government authorities together with independent test results to prove that these products had a distinct effect. He visited many large raw materials suppliers to persuade them to make an allocation to the company of the products needed. Many times he was successful in getting at least a weekly delivery of a few hundredweight or a few gallons of these materials.

For the manufacture of “Melitol” and “Portite” an essential raw material was cement which was being supplied to the building trade on very strict allocation. Each week Dr. Simon would visit local builders in order to see if he could scrounge one or two bags of cement which he would load into his car boot, enabling another few days of production for the products in question.

One of the first products to receive approval from the Ministry of Defence was “Evode Frost Protective 101 TS”, a product which was urgently needed in the production of airfield runways laid in the wintertime. The requirement for this product was increasing with orders coming in from Ministry of Works contractors around the country.

As previously pointed out, all of the chemicals used in the manufacture of products in the factory were allocated code numbers to improve security. Such a raw material was G447 which was flaked calcium chloride supplied by Imperial Chemical Industries. This company could not supply the product in the quantities requested in 1942/3. Consequently another supplier was found but the grade of product which they offered was much more difficult to handle as it was in solid form.

As a young chemist in Germany, Dr. Simon had acquired a considerable knowledge of bituminous emulsions and bitumen compounds. Included in the latter were formulations for gas-proofing buildings used as food ration stores. This was a concern to the Ministry in case the Germans resorted to the use of mustard gas as in World War I. The emulsions had already been introduced into the Dove Products range under the name of Insulating Pastes.

Although a small quantity of these pastes had been sold over the past two years a very important need was soon to arise, which certainly affirms that one persons disadvantage becomes another persons gift!

As the nightly attacks on London by the Luftwaffe increased in intensity, millions of gallons of ready-at-hand water were needed to fight the fires which the bombing had created. Engineers were ordered by the Ministry of Works to turn gutted basements into reservoirs. Hastily, bomb sites were cleared, the sides and 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 became aware of the problem and he knew that he had a ready made answer. His Sales Manager was despatched to the Ministry of Works in London with the data on Evode Insulating Paste.

The authorities at the Ministry, who had suffered the recriminations of both contractors and raw materials suppliers over the leaking water, would only agree to trials with the Evode product if the company would agree to apply the treatment. This Dr. Simon agreed to do and six, newly concreted basements were allocated for trial. Although he had no practical experience of carrying out such work, and neither had anyone else at Evode at that time, he set off for London in his car with a supply of sweeping brooms and buckets to apply the product to the prepared concrete. The rest of the labour force, consisting of his Sales manager and two part timers who helped in the factory (these two men were male nurses from the local hospital who had taken leave), made the journey by train. After the work had been completed and the areas filled with water, they were inspected by people from the Ministry of Works who, a week later, found that the water level had remained unchanged. As Dr. Simon had claimed, Evode Insulating Paste had made the tanks watertight and its use was now approved by the authorities.

Contracts were now received for waterproofing not only more water tanks but air raid shelters too. The business was being received at such a level that it became necessary to set up a permanent contracts team in London to carry out this work. A labour force was recruited which consisted of a Mr. Washer, his two sons plus another workman. One of these sons, Mr. E. Washer, later became Evode Contracts Manager.

The Ministry of Works now began to place contracts for similar types of waterproofing products to be applied in other cities in Britain which were being subjected to bombing. It was not possible for the London team to carry out all of this work and so more teams were recruited to do so. The waterproofing process was now being extended to aircraft hanger roofs, water towers and other structures which held or were likely to be affected by water. To administer these teams so engaged Evode Contracts Department was formed.

The accounts for 1941 presented to the Board were not encouraging. Nevertheless, taking into consideration that Dr. Simon did not rejoin the company until May of that year, Mr. Forman was not released until October, the cost of moving the company from Glover Street to Stone Road with all of the necessary alterations to assist manufacturing the products, the building work which had to be done, the loss of production while the move was taking place and the difficulty in obtaining raw materials to continue production, these were considered satisfactory under the circumstances.

The production of all established products continued to increase as the company went into the year 1942. However, wartime restrictions and quotas of raw materials was now beginning to make it extremely difficult to supply products for “non essential” use. Those customers who could not endorse their orders with Ministry of Works priority authorisation found that it was not possible for Evode to offer a firm delivery date.

Dr. Simon and Mr. Forman were now spending a great deal of their time visiting and corresponding with various Government departments and Ministers to gain increased allocations of raw materials. Their efforts met with some success, which now allowed Dr. Simon to concentrate on obtaining new business. Due to petrol rationing he could only use his car for short journeys and, therefore, travelled much of the time by train. This mode of transport led to a lot of inconvenience as, on many occasions, he reported that the train may arrive many hours late, or it did not stop at the station at which he wanted to alight due to an air raid having taken place. Matters were not made any easier as stations were blacked out and, on more than one occasion, he found himself getting off the train at the wrong station.

Undoubtedly, the most frustrating problem to be dealt with was that of getting Evode products written into specifications. Even when contractors were content to use products made by Evode not all architects or people at Ministry departments would give their approval. In a case in point the firm George Wimpey were carrying out construction work at Watford airfield and wanted to use Evode Frost Protective. However, the military needs of war were not always treated with the urgency they should have been and Dr. Simon was asked by the contractor to attempt to resolve the problem. He was always unwilling to tolerate delays of any kind, particularly when he was sure that the product he produced could meet the criteria. An appointment with the Ministry of Works in London was quickly obtained at which he produced a mass of test results on the Evode product in question, supported by numerous letters from the major building contractors who had used it. George Wimpey quickly received approval to use the product and very large orders were received from the site.

In October 1942 a notice was produced giving conditions of employment. Depending upon availability of raw materials the hours of work, regularly increased by overtime, could exceed 70 hours per week. At the end of the financial year for 1942 the report submitted to the Directors indicated that turnover had been very satisfactory. However, for the future, the rate of increase could not be foreseen due to the quota of raw materials allocated to Evode and other wartime restrictions.

At a meeting of the Board of Directors held on 3rd. March 1943 it was reported by Dr. Simon that enquiries had been made in July 1942 concerning the purchase of a plot of land in Silkmore Lane, Stafford. If granted, it was planned to erect buildings and manufacture products which were not permitted by the authorities in the Stone Road factory. Objections were raised by local residents and, consequently, the application was rejected by the Stafford town council. The company appealed against the decision but this was turned down. Therefore, the Board decided to purchase the premises at 22, Stone Road for the sum of £2,000.00

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The company had, by now, settled into an existence which was totally controlled by the necessities of wartime. Its growth was constricted to a considerable extent by raw materials quotas, shortages of labour and transport restrictions, to name but a few of the difficulties faced. Nevertheless, Dr. Simon was keen to promote the company products and, even though very little advertising took place, he or Mr. Forman contacted many customers personally or by letter to get the products better known and used.

At the same Board meeting it was decided that Dr. Simon would receive a fixed salary of £750.00 per annum and be entitled to receive £50.00 for every £1,000.00 profit made by the company. From the outset, he proved to be more than a very competent scientist. He showed interest in the well being of other people who worked in the factory. Within his character a strong feeling for truth and justice was apparent and, combined with discipline, enthusiasm and the will to build up a successful company, ensured that he gathered around him a loyal and able team of co-workers. Through the joint effort of all involved the company grew.

The financial position of the company at the end of 1943 was considered to be satisfactory and an increase in profits had been recorded.

The successful results obtained from the building industry using Evode products were acknowledged by large concerns of this type in the receipt by the company of congratulatory letters on the efficiency being obtained. Thus, in 1944, events followed a similar pattern to those in the previous year. Dr. Simon must have felt extremely proud to receive such commendations concerning the products manufactured by his company and, in particular, the receipt of a letter from the Ministry of Works praising the work which had been done on the South Marston airfield. His formulations were now being acknowledged as contributing great value in aiding the National War Effort. This must have made the tribulations and set backs which had befallen him in the early years of the war more bearable.

As in the previous year the final balance sheet of the company showed that the profit made was considered satisfactory.

The year 1945 was significant for two reasons important personally to Dr. Simon and to the company which he had a great share in creating. On 1st. April his only son, Andrew, was born in a Wolverhampton nursing home. It is claimed that this event was important in him becoming a life long supporter of Wolverhampton Wanderers. On the arrival of his son he allegedly announced “Now we have an Englishman in the family”. Nationally, and of long term benefit to the company, the war in Europe was declared ended on 8th. May and that with Japan on 15th.September.

When Government restrictions were lifted in January 1945 most buyers of the polishes produced by the company immediately purchased large quantities of the products, even so, sales were slow. One wholesaler, The Danish Bacon Company, to whom about £10,000.00 worth of polish had been supplied during the period of restrictions, failed to place an order when controls were lifted. Some major wholesalers placed no orders in 1945. Consequently, Dr. Simon now felt that the time had come to put more effort into manufacturing more of the chemical products of his own design.

Dr. Simon informed the Directors that he had recently obtained an allocation of vegetable oil for the manufacture of paints. In his opinion there was an excellent market to exploit and, as soon as production could move into other buildings, the company would be able to make paints selling at 45 shillings per gallon as against 15 to 20 shillings fetched for similar products before the war. He also stated that the company had doubled its business with Lotus Ltd. and that Lotus Shoe Cream should be packed into glass jars. If, however, these jars could not be found, he proposed to go ahead by filling the cream into tubes.

There were also two further events in this year which affected the company structure. At a directors meeting held on 21st. December Mr. Clipstone, who had served as a Director and Chairman of the company since 1937, tendered his resignation and this was accepted. In addition, Mr. Bainbridge, who had been appointed a Director in 1941, also stated that he wished to leave the company. His wishes were also accepted. Dr. Simon thanked both gentlemen for the service they had rendered to the company, particularly during his and Mr. Forman`s absences in 1940/1941.

The final balance sheet tendered for 1945 indicated that the profit made by the company showed a very acceptable increase.