I started my working life at fifteen by joining the typing school at English Electric Main Works, Lichfield Road Stafford. You were trained for six months and then contracted to work for the Company for at least another year. On completing my training I was sent to work as a junior shorthand typist in the Industrial Electronics Department based at Foregate Street Stafford. I took dictation and typed quotations for machinery, general office work and filing, part of my duties included being the tea girl as I was the youngest. Towards the end of 1953, the Industrial Electronics Department, was transferred to Kidsgrove, those of us who didn't want to move or travel that far to work were offered alternative jobs. I worked then for a few weeks in a large typing pool at main works, using a Dictaphone. After that I was sent back to Foregate Street working on a temporary basis for the trade association department, it was all a bit unsettling, so I decided to look for another job.
I went for an interview at Glover Street, and joined Evode in the Despatch Department. It was situated at the front of the factory, the sliding windows faced towards the main road. All materials coming in, and finished goods going out went through that office, you also saw everyone arriving, mostly walking or riding old fashion bicycles, not many came in cars.
The function of the Department was to log all raw materials and packaging coming in and to book out all the finished goods. There were three clerks including Mr Powell, who had interviewed me and was in charge, and two typists working in quite a small office. After the post arrived in the morning, we were given the customers orders, my job as one of the typists was to transfer the details,, invoice and delivery addresses, products amounts etc., onto a five-set order form, total the items, then type a label for each item separately, - gummed for cartons, and tie-on for tins and drums, all done on a manual typewriter. All these then went into the factory where orders were put up and labels attached by hand. When this was finished the notes came back to us so that one of the clerks could complete written consignment notes for the carriers, who in turn would call by arrangement each day, to load and transport goods to their distribution depots, then onto the customer. The regular carriers I remember at this time were Collins & Carter Paterson Road Transport, passenger rail parcels, and goods rail freight. Evode owned two lorries which delivered large, direct loads, mostly drums, rolls of membrane equipment etc., for roofing contracts.
It was an interesting place to work, and I found it easy to recognise who the people were and what they did. Dr Simon and Mr Forman were regular visitors round the factory and offices, all the staff, factory and office, were treated the same.
I made lots of friends, and in a very short while I was part of the 'Evode family', joining in all the activities of factory life, including twice being involved in making rosettes, decorating and riding on a lorry in Stafford and Rugeley pageants.
I must mention two other perks of working at Evode then. Every month you got a 'polish ration' some for the floor and some to make your shoes shine. The other thing, - morning and afternoon a lady whose name was Nora Nicklin came round with a cup of tea for everyone.
Not long after I started working at Evode, preparations began on a new site in Common Road. I remember walking over the Common for a look at the place everyone was talking about, at the time there wasn't very much to see. But things moved very quickly and it was no time at all before first one and then another part of the factory moved from Glover Street.
In November 1954 the Despatch Department was split in two and I moved with Mr Shardlow to set up the first office on the new site working in conjunction with our other half at Glover Street to keep things running smoothly. Our office was on the end on a long building most of which was used for making adhesive (I learnt very early on not to say glue!) On one side was the mill room and next to that tins being filled from a barrel with a tap, and tubes were filled by hand, - the girls squeezed the end of the tube together then used this little machine to seal them. The inners in the small tins were knocked in firmly with a piece of wood and lids screwed up tightly before being packed into cartons which someone else was making up with Sellotape at the end of the table. The area just outside the office was used for assembling and labelling the goods ready for collection. Billy Vaughan looked after that operation, - one of his sayings was "When I worked in Lincoln...."
I remember a suggestion becoming reality when elastic bands were used instead of string to attach labels to tins and drums. Also in this section of the building goods were packed by Bob Dunn for export - heavy wooden boxes packed with wood wool and lids nailed down. Besides the one we worked in, there were only a couple of new buildings then. The Bitumen Department was at the back of the site. Most of the men working there were Polish, Ted and Dan Wojtulewicz are just two of them I remember very well from that time. Also working in the Department was Eli Parker, known to everyone as Joe, he measured out and cut the different sorts of membrane for roofing work.
The house was the home of Mr Jack Hesp and his family along with their pet bulldog, I was a bit frightened of the dog at first, but got used to him after a while. It was a bit strange, I suppose, looking back on it, to see washing hanging out in the middle of a factory!
As time went on more warehouses and laboratories were built, plants and machinery moved, more familiar faces were seen, Rainer Gehab, Reg Moseley and the girls from the polish, it was very exciting watching it all take shape. When the main office building was finished, and Dr. Simons fish tank put in his office, I knew we were here to stay.
Not only the buildings grew, but the range of products and staff did as well. From the old brickwork's derelict site opposite the Common, it became a hive of industry, and when the new road was completed linking it to the motorway, it seemed to me someone had thought it out really well and achieved a dream.
I used to sometimes wait at the bus stop in Marston Road. One morning this big posh car pulled up and the driver asked me if I wanted a lift, it was Dr. Simon, I felt so proud going through the gates in such style!! I didn't realise he knew who I was.
At different stages things changed, one of which was Despatch became a separate department and incoming goods, the responsibility of the newly built Gatehouse, and Mr Powell was made Buyer for the Company. Mr Shardlow was put in charge of Despatch, which much later had its name changed to Transport Office, delivery of goods was shared by Evode Lorries and vans as well as other carriers.
I moved round the site at least seven times during my stay, but was always content to do the same job. Technology over the years made it easier, but it always had what is now called 'job satisfaction'. Receiving the order, seeing the products made, getting them to the customer, a complete circle. I was very sorry to leave, - my life wouldn't be the same. I have now got used to it and have found different things to be involved with. Sometimes I get to call on other 'old' Evodians or meet them in town, how we can talk!! Mostly about the good old days. I don't think our enthusiasm is any less than it was then.
On a recent visit to Common Road everything looked very smart and Hi-Tech, showing Evode still going forward.
Walk to the top of the stairs out of reception and you will see those two familiar faces:
Dr Simon and Mr Forman