Originally I came from Shrewsbury, I went to school at Much Wenlock then started work at Solar Trailers at Shrewsbury. I moved with my parents to Colwich near Stafford, and began work at Dormans Diesels as a fitter, I stayed there for about 12 months, but I wasn’t happy.
My cousin, Peter Gregory told me about the job at Vik Supplies, my sisters, Barbara and Susan Talbot were already working at Vik Supplies (they later moved up to Common Road).
I started in 1962 at Vik Supplies down at Sandon Road by Lotus. Bernard Preece gave me my interview at Vik Supplies, I remember walking into the factory and seeing all these women on the clicking machines, I was shy then. There was no canteen there, you could use the canteen at Lotus over the road, I didn’t use as I used to take sandwiches.
I used to fill cans of products which had been made for the shoe trade by Pete Gregory and Freddie Gray. After 6 months I moved up to Evode on Common Road, they didn’t want me on the yard so I went to work in the stores with Ray Allsop, Gerry Poole, Fred Loveys, Dave Bentley Brian (Boozer) Lowndes and Brain Smith on the unloading gang, unloading raw materials, tins and drums from wagons, we used to ‘handball’ them by chucking them up in the air from the wagon and onto pallets to go into the stores. There were a lot of us on the unloading gang.
There used to be a drum farm at the back of Evacor and each morning we would get a list from adhesives then go and get the drums from the farm, there were no stacker trucks then, we would tip the drums on their side and roll them down to the hot room in the factory, it was a cold job in winter!! There was a transport company in Hull called Tutty’s, they used to bring in stuff from Metal Box, and this where I got my nickname ‘Tutty’ from.
One day, after about 12 months of doing this they wanted a weigher up on Rupert Tallents gang in the adhesives, upstairs. Rupert was the gaffer with Dave Bentley, Alan Smith, Boozer, Gerry Poole and Eddie Knight, we weighed up all the raw materials. I’ve been doing this ever since. As soon as the new Mastics factory opened Gerry Poole was the first of our gang to go down there, he was made up to gaffer and asked me to go down, and I‘ve been there ever since! Boozer Lowndes came down, and Ken Elsley, we worked upstairs weighing out. I’m downstairs now weighing out for the silicone production. Someone had the bright idea that as we were taking pallets upstairs and loading them up before taking them downstairs again to production, it might be better to have the weighing up downstairs, so that is where it is, where the old Mastics office used to be. It’s changed a lot over the years, not for the best I’m afraid, it’s just not the same anymore, not as pleasant as when we were working for the Doctor, just here for the money really, well I suppose that’s why we’ve always come here!!
Dr Simon used to walk around the factory saying “Hello” one day when I was about to go upstairs in the lift in the Mastics he joined me - as he said “I own the factory so I can use the lift and come with you!!” He recognised me in town one Saturday night and offered to give me a lift home. He used to offer me a lift home from work, well, to town anyway as I didn’t like to go all the way. When I lived at Colwich, and then when we moved to Brocton there were many times I would see Dr Simon walking on the chase, sometimes alone, sometimes with people. He would come into the old canteen and tell us about his trips abroad, he would say “I am just going away to get a few orders” John Forman was second in command, he would always say hello, but he never came round the factory much.
The Evode Fire Brigade was already in existence when Basil Holloway, Dave Bentley and I joined. We used to do competitions at the weekends at Goodyear with other fire brigades from the Midlands. Cliff Stanley was on the committee who organised these competitions before he moved to Blackpool. He was a good bloke, strict, but fair - but you could always have a laugh. On bonfire night every year the Evode fire brigade used to have patrols round the factory from 6pm until midnight in case any rockets came over, years ago the houses on the Common Road used to have bonfires and fireworks, they don’t do it nowadays but we still do the patrols from 6pm until 10pm.
There was a fire in the ‘Sputnik’ in the Adhesives, Keith Bailey was putting an earthing strap onto another when it just ignited. Although I was working in the Mastics, that day I happened to be helping out in the Adhesives (if we ran out of work we would move around). The Sputnik caught fire and great flames were going up but everyone thought the fire was at the back of the Adhesive as the extractor fan was pulling the smoke out of the back. Keith Bayley got inured, he burnt his arm Albert Edensor and I put the fire out. After it was all over, the Old Man took us upstairs to thank us, he said we had saved his factory, we had done a good job.
To thank us he took all the Fire Brigade and their wives, along with the Directors to Lichfield for a meal, he even got a coach organised for us. As he left that night he said “Have what you want to drink” so we did!! I thought they would kick up a fuss at the bill with all the drinks and cigarettes, Cliff Stanley said they would never pay the bill - but they did.
Then there was another fire, the Black Monopol in the downstairs Adhesive, it was the biggest batch they had made, it ignited and went up. Everywhere was black, smoke covered everything and was coming up through the false floor it was as black as the ace of spades, someone had to turn the machine off so in I went, of course we didn’t have breathing apparatus in those days. Again the Doctor took us all out for another meal, and another good night was had!!
My wife used to work at Evode, Carol Lambert, her mum worked in the canteen as the gaffer. We got married on 16 March 1968, they had a collection for us and I had my stag night at the Amasal Club. That day at work they wanted to get me, they kept putting calls out for me but I went to the Twinstik thinking they wouldn’t get me there. Eventually I was told they wanted me but said it was too late to get me now so off I went, John Pinder caught me on the stairs and picked me up and took me down to the adhesive when they drowned me in lipstick etc.! We got divorced in 1972.
There used to be inter-departmental football knockouts, the shop floor, offices, bitumens, labs and stores would play. We got quite a good team and we used to win every year as we had good players, Bob Walters, Bob Hulme, Keith Crutchley and Ozzie Challinor and Pat Johnson who used to run the football teams on a Saturday (I didn’t play on a Saturday). We used to have the football presentations at the Top of the World on Newport Road, Andrew Simon used to give out the prizes. 9 of our gang, including Dave Bentley, Malcolm Watwood and Norman Brown used to go to Wembley every year. Basil Holloway would collect the money, - 50p a week, we would go and see the challenge trophy cup final match in the 1970’s. We would catch the train down and come back on the 11.45pm train.
We used to play football every lunchtime, come rain sun or sleet, Melvyn Farmer, Dave Bentley, John Snitch from the garage who later went to Canada and Bernard Cooper. We played footie at the back of the Mastics factory, the pitch was a slope, Elias Peake would come out and someone would shout “Peakes coming” and we’d run like hell to clock on at the start of the shift, we were allowed two minutes grace when clocking on, we had many a laugh, we were always running around and tripping each other up. We used to play cricket too. One day someone hit the ball and Gerry Poole and Dave Bentley both went to catch it and Gerry got caught in the throat and had to go to hospital. Dave Mellor used to play cricket too, we played it so that everyone could have a go, but Dave used to refuse to be out, he would bowl by bringing his arm right over, quite funny really. Some one made a special cricket bat which we used to keep locked away so no-one else could use it, it was carved from an old pallet!
We used to have quizzes at the Sports and Social club, discos and trips out. I went to Belgium to a beer festival with Malcolm Watwood, Ronnie Gardner, all of us went we had a coach full, we had a good time, John Jones organised it all. Another time we had a tramps supper at the club and I dressed up as one of the Supremes, and got up to mime to one of their songs, that was a good night!!
I remember the Pageant, it hadn’t been done for some years, I can’t remember how our float ‘Showboat’ was organised, or how I was asked to be involved, but it was a good day. I think Millie’s husband did the float. We had a good drink and got well lubricated. We did showboat, we did Showboat, Brian Davies and his son, Carol Lake, Hazel Holland, Millie and Pam were involved. We won a prize for our float.
At Christmas the girls used to decorate the Mastics factory, mainly it was done by Carol Meacham and the twins, Jane and Michelle Woodhouse.
We gave blood in the 1960’s Moira Powell the nurse organised it, they would set the bed up in the main office block, in what is now the Boardroom, this was just for Evode people. Then in the 1980’s it moved down to the Amasal Club, we would go down in the van and walk back, it was open to anyone then. I gave blood about 30 times, I can’t do it now as I’m diabetic.
My original personnel files were lost in Lotus somewhere so Lionel Fletcher and I settled for 1962 as the year I started.