When the war started in 1939, the Russian troops came over to occupy part of our territory (which was the north east of Poland). We were interned because my father used to serve in the army during the first world war, therefore I was depicted as untrustworthy as regards the Soviet Union. So, on 10th February 1940 4 million people were collectively evacuated from Poland during one night. No-one knew where we were going. Within a month of deportation we arrived in Siberia, the journey was by train. I went to work as an apprentice in an engineering factory, then into my trade as a lathe operator. When the Germans attacked Russia there was an amnesty, and we emigrated from Siberia, through Ousbecistan by foot which took us 36 hours, to Afghanistan.
From 1940 to the beginning of 1942 the Polish army began to form, and my two eldest brothers joined up almost immediately, and I was left behind to look after my younger brother and my mother. A few months later on the 9th April 1942 I joined the free Polish army. In October 1942 we arrived in Iran (previously Persia). We were regrouped to retrain, there were about 600,000 men and women under arms. We moved my mother and younger brother, Dan, from Persia to India for the time being as civilians, and I then went on and joined the Polish army in Signals. In 1944 we landed in Italy at Taranto and took part in the long, hard slog to push the Germans out. In 1945 the war ended and some of us were retained.
On 28th October 1946 we came to England, still as solders in arms, we arrived in Pembroke Dock in Wales, and events started to prepare us for civilian life. From Pembroke Dock I landed in Liverpool Because I was a fully qualified lathe operator I could not find a job in Wales, and around the same time my mother was coming from India to join us. So I found a job in Birkenhead in an engineering factory. I stayed there for 14 months. When my mother arrived, she was transferred from a camp in the South of England somewhere to Stafford, then I decided to give my job up in Birkenhead to join my mother. First thing I did in Stafford was try the English Electric. I stayed with Reg Moseley's brother in law, Jack. I went to English Electric, but they were a bit suspicious about foreigners, so I did not get the job. There was a young man, Reg Moseley, already working at Evode in shoe polishes, when I met him again he said ' why do you not come for the job at Evode?' I said 'Well, I am in a different type of work, I know my job'. I was a lathe operator, but I asked him what they do and I took a chance and applied for the job.
First thing I did was to be introduced to Mr. Peak and was accepted straight away. When I left the interview with Mr. Peak it was Friday, the following Monday 2nd November 1949 I came to work at Evode. I was under Reg Moseley in the Shoe and Floor Polishes Department. I found it a bit of hard work because it was a different type of work to what I had been used to, nothing was mechanised at all. We used to lay hundreds of tins on the table by hand, the only piece of mechanised equipment was the Polish Filling Out Machine which was probably 20 years old and often broke down. The polish was made electrically, heated in 30 gallon kettles, and the molten waxes were stirred by broomsticks, (I used to mix the floor and shoe polishes by broomstick!!) There were 18 or more elderly ladies employed to lid and pack the polish and it was a happy working atmosphere which I enjoyed for 14 months.
Reg Moseley, was a very very busy person, and very concientious. I was then asked by Mr. Foreman if I would start work in the Chemicals Department which was known by the workers as the 'Back Deck'. The factory was dilapidated of course like everything else, it was draughty, and would flood. We worked wherever we could, we stacked our products where-ever we could, when one moved out raw materials, the space was soon filled. Well, gradually we managed somehow!!"
At that time we were not doing bitumen emulsions. This was just general raw materials for chemicals. There was a department which was called 'Mellitol', this was practically well organised, it was separate, but we used to get all the bitumen products from Chester in containers, it was called British Bitumen Emulsion. My main job was to re-drum and re-pack 40 gallon drums of Bituminous Emulsion and the only thing we used to manufacture was Evo-Set, That was the hardest job of all.
We also were now manufacturing Evode Frost Protective and Evode 'Miniset' in 200 gallon batches, and these mixers now had electric stirrers, so at least the days of hand stirring everything were over. We still had to work very hard however as the calcium chlorate flakes used in this product were delivered to us in 100 weight bags which had to be lifted from the floor up to the mixer some 6 ft off the ground . The product was filled out into 40 gallon barrels and stored outside. In winter we had to light fires to keep ourselves warm and thaw out the lifting equipment used for loading the railway horse drawn wagons and contractors lorries.
My brother Dan arrived in 1951 and he worked with Reg Moseley in the Polish Department. He was transferred to Mr. Lawtons area, the Paints Department. At the end of 1953 there was a rumour that Evode was acquiring ground at Common Road as we started to grow bigger. I started off with myself and the late Bill Endsor, and then we added a man every year to our department.
While we were still in shoe polishes under Reg Moseley, we had a young man, Ken Wood. He came in as the youngest Sergeant in the British Army, and started as a Chemist, apparently he was not a Chemist, he knew a little bit about it but he was not a Chemist, so his job was packing shoe polishes and floor polishes into boxes for export. Then he went back to the laboratory, and when I moved to the Bitumen Department, which was called 'Back Deck' in 1953, I was asked by Mr. Peak to join Ken Wood and Mr. Peak from time to time to do experiments on emulsions. We tried all sorts of things, even emulsified asphalt, and after a certain period of time we knew we could do it. We could do emulsions, but we needed more information on this subject. Then Dr Jackson joined the Company. At first he was absent for a fortnight having to learn everything what we had done. - Emulsion, the new product.
We had a coal fired boiler, then we had a small Hurrell, and we started making emulsions. We were both successful and unsuccessful, and we scrapped a lot of experiments, but eventually Dr Jackson hit the spot!! So we started to manufacture, the difficult part was how to preserve the product for a longer period of time, like Paste-Con, that was our first big breakthrough. We had done about 80 barrels which was beautiful material, but when we opened it two months later there were only 5 gallons left, the rest had grown into fungi inside the barrels. We did not know exactly which resin to use for the emulsification to stop the corrosion of the inside of the barrel. The we had to scrap that, and Dr Jackson said we should introduce potassium-bichromate to prevent the corrosion, and he was absolutely right!! We made 4 batches of 400m to 500 gallon batches of paste to the existing formulation with the addition of bichromate, and it worked! So we made a huge stockpile of Pastecon.
The department consisted of myself, Dan and other Polish workers. - Well we had no foreigners as Mr. Peak used to say as there were no English people there!! I was fortunate that Mr. Peak did rely on me to help him, and he believed in me all through Dr Simon. I am very grateful for that. As regards management at that period, Mr. Peak was very watchful, but he was direct and very sincere, so there were no quarrels, he said 'Do that - and I want you to do it because we need that product there and then' Also he had to contain himself because we were so short of space. The Existing Paint Department which had tried to pinch our space, Mr. Peak managed to negotiate everything.
Dr Jackson was concerned about the development of bitumen emulsion products, he worked day and night I believe, but every time we did new experiments, sometimes they worked, and sometimes they did not. But finally, we did come to a final decision whereby introducing bichromate we found there was no growth of fungi, or whatever bacterial disease. S o we had done about 2 to 3 months work on Pastecon, just stockpiling it for our contractors to make a move from Glover Street, - that was in the pipeline, so I believe.
Dr Simon knew exactly what was going on, he knew exactly where we stood as regards bitumen products manufactured by Evode. He came to me in person, which I will remember for the rest of my days, he turned round to me and said ' Look Ted, do you think that we have got it now?' I said 'yes' and he turned 'Thank-you'. He did not have to ask, but he did, then he was happy, and from then on we never looked back. The one thing that I am very grateful to Dr Simon, and the management of course, was that I never did ask for anything. Promotions, I was looked at, and then we started moving because the new factory was being built. Bitumen Emulsions was near completion and there was one mixer, one Phoenix boiler, one storage tank for emulsion and a little platform, that was all.
The event came (I must go back because this is probably very important.) When we started to move from Glover Street, bituminous emulsion was still intact in Glover Street, and I left Eric Klepacki to continue running the emulsions until we were ready to run our own at Common Road. That was it, only temporary.
On 16th November 1956 our first run of 10 tons of emulsion was emulsified at Common Road in the presence of Dr Simon, John Forman, Barry Jackson and probably one or two more, and we just started in the usual way, and the Hurrell never stopped, never faulted in any way. That was the very, very beginning.
We received liquid bitumen at Common Road, but at Glover Street we had to melt it. We had to come in at 5 o'clock in the morning especially during summertime. To break it into bits because in summertime we could not rip the bags or barrels, it was a very very hard job. By coming at 5 in the morning we could do a job in twenty minutes, but by leaving it for the normal time of half past seven or eight o'clock it took us four hours.
When we had moved to Common Road, on 16th November 1956 we made the first run of emulsion. Then within 6 months we realised that the storage capacity of manufactured emulsion was not enough for our demands. So we had another storage tank. When we moved to Common Road we had 8 people, (one of whom was Joe Parker, who had come to Evode during the war, although he was a skilled leather worker he joined the Company at Stone Road as a Foreman. His skill in cutting leather was put to very good use in our department as the Bitumen impregnated hessian, used in the Waterproofing Treatment had to be cut to various widths, e.g. 6", 12" etc., and he was an expert in doing this.
Then we had the problem which side of the building in the production area should be a despatch area. So there were a lot of arguments, but that was nothing to do with us. We carried on regardless.
When we discovered soon after 6 months that our capacity for the emulsion was not sufficient we had another 10 gallon storage tank put in under the platform. Then as engineer, Bill Weaver and his gang were indispensable for our quick move forward, because the search for our own waterproofing outdoor business began to expand, and at the same time, export started to come in specially for base con and things like that.
We had a huge export order which contained, I think, about 6 or seven lorries and trailers of basecon. The transport Manager was Ken Shardlow, and I believe he made a point photographing everything because we could not accommodate them around the buildings, they had to be stretched out from the main office, from the main gate back to the Adhesives Building!
Two Phoenix boilers, and then a third Phoenix boiler because at that time there were new products coming in to Frigidaire where we started to manufacture because we had no capacity for it, so we had another thousand gallon coal-fired open boiler. We used to manufacture Frigidaires product there, on the ramp in Bitumen Emulsions which unfortunately one day exploded and took the roof off!!
At that time the Solution Building was next door, and was coming into operation, it had just come up from paints in Glover Street. We were about 9 feet away from 3 solvent storage tanks, so the next thing that happened was, Dr. Simon came in and had a look, he didn't say a word, and he told management to get Sid Taylor the scrap man to wheel it out while the tank was still hot, and within 2 hours it was removed and replaced. The job itself had been going down a bit because, possibly the Company did not want the business, so we concentrated on Flashband.
Flashband came into being by introducing a 12" Platman winder hand scraper and a hundredweight drum. This again was Barry Jackson, Sid and another chap and they set up the idea of making Flashband. So we started on Flashband, reversing it, and inverting it again, and all sorts. At the same time we had small orders in and Tony Carwardine tried to devise the packaging, advertisements etc. We went on and on, obviously Dr Jackson had done a hell of a lot. Sid Carter eventually had to take over other production and moved onto something else. We tried a big machine, but the problem was that we could not find an angle in the rollers which would move the roller of Flashband about 6" off the floor, and the machine was very tall so we had to kneel down, and each roll of 36 foot length Flashband weighed 121/2 Kilo.
We began with the engineers to try and change the angle of the out coming finished goods, and eventually we did it. To move the roller up we altered the angle of the Flashband which was coming out onto the core, and away we went. In the meantime Jeff Matthews introduced the internal knife from inside the coil to cut it. The problem was with Flashband whenever a customer used it he had to undo it and get the release paper from underneath. So we had to reverse it in some way slice it of course into sizes, this wasn't feasible so Jeff introduced a very ingenious thing from cutting from the side that was altered, and then we changed the run off to release paper and aluminium of course.
So the patent of Flashband by Barry Jackson, and the subsequent production of Flashband in the factory was all on the suck it and see basis, one tried ideas, if they worked then it was considered for further development, if they did not work that was it. So in the end it was the factory which found the ways and means of Flashband, which was liquid bitumen, applied whilst still hot onto an aluminium foil, and the whole thing was an ingenious piece of works engineering., - that would be the old household two roller hand turned mangle. It started off with Dr Jackson asking 'why do we have to buy bitumen membrane?' One summer they said why not impregnate ourselves? - see what happens, and so we did.
I think we did about 100 yards of it and we laid it on the grass, and we rolled it very carefully back into a roll 36" wide and we cut that, but that wasn't feasible, because there was a period of 2 to 3 years later that the membrane started to fall off, and at that time the main development at Glover Street was on multi-plasticiser Because we had experience by then with pastes of all sorts, that was fine, but in order to impregnate the hessian to use with roof waterproofing, the requirements would have been too expensive, and Dr Simon felt it was just not worth proceeding with. So you really concentrated on perfecting Flashband production. At the same time Dr Jackson was experimenting on that hessian impregnation. He ran a layer of bitumen into release papers and turned the membrane off and started to concentrate on some sort of Flashband. These were the crude ideas which were used in the factory, and then subsequently in place of one piece of release paper, aluminium foil was tried to coat the bitumen onto, and this slowly became perfected in terms of equipment and ideas, until in the end we were coating aluminium foil with liquid bitumen, which, when it cooled could be cut, having first coated the bitumen layer with a layer of release paper, it was rolled, and then the whole thing was cut to the required width. But this took a lot of innovation, ideas were tried and thrown out.
The first experiment was made in between two release papers, and was put on top of the laboratory roof, and it slid off in the heat, so something else had to come in. Then Barry Jackson and Sid Carter started introducing polythene beads, we had to eliminate oil (possibly flux oil), changing the grade of bitumen, and all sorts of things. Flashband has been an absolute gold mine as was as Evode was concerned, and I'm told is very effective today against stronger opposition. Today there is still development work going on in the lab on making Flashband even better than it has been in the past. The adhesion in cold weather has always been a little bit of a problem, and they are still working today on ways and means of improving that.
I would like to add one small comment, that time was very important to me, When Flashband was being exported all over the place we had to keep to time schedule as strictly as possible, one problem was not having containers and cartons in our stores, we had to go to adhesives where Bob Longdon was very helpful to supply us both. There were times were I had to gamble, on one occasion I was called into the Directors Board to solve a problem. They found 10 export orders for Flashband were missing somewhere. I was hard pressed by various people at the top to do what I could. When I asked for those items which were not under my juristiction, - boxes, cello tape, all sorts of things which were not in our stores, I was promised then that everything would be in place. From that meeting of Directors I went back to Bob Longdon and then to Dave Whalley which was very important to me, I said 'Look if you book the transport, I'll do exactly what you say, Bring the transport for this and that hour and that date, and the order will go out' He co-operated so well, and we overcame the problem with a month. Everything was cleared away, and since then I have never had any problems, Dave Whalley and I trusted each other.
Dr. Simon thought all our efforts at that time should be concentrated on Flashband, he was of course proved right to have made this decision.
I continued to work in the Bitumen Department as charge hand, and then Senior Supervisor and we manufactured some 30 or more products for sale in the U.K. and abroad. I had a team of some 36 men working for me until May 9th 1985 when I took early retirement at the age of 60.
The 36 years with Evode were happy ones and I value the many friends I made during that time.