David Bruce remembered Peas and the 'Overseas Circuit'

 

GMC 42

 

Barchelor's PeasJoe Scarborough worked with peas at Batchelors, Wadsley Bridge and painted a picture which included the Rolls Royce belonging to the boss, Maurice W Batchelor. Maurice's son, Peter, was our Chairman in Malawi in 1976 and the history of Aunty Ella and peas naturally rubbed off on us over many a shared beer.

William Batchelor (1861-1913) was born in Lincolnshire (son of James Batchelor a farmer and Ellen Hudson). He married Annie (1861-) from Sheffield. In 1901 he described himself as a 'shopkeeper in tea & cutlery' and in 1911 as a 'Prudence Merchant'. In 1895 William experimented with prepackaged 'convenience' foods and when he found a way to can vegetables, Batchelors Foods was formed. At the early age 53, in 1913, William died. Sons Lieut-Col Maurice William (1899-73), born in Sheffield, died in Denbighshire & Frederick Lewis Batchelor (1896-) were still at school but 22 year old daughter Ella Hudson (1891-) took over the company and developed the business into a household name for peas. In 1915 Ella married Cyril Gasking, a physician. 

By 1920 the company was also a leader in dried peas. In 1943 the wartime difficulties presented an opportunity for Unilever who purchased the company. In 1948 Ella Gasking retired and her younger brother Maurice Batchelor took over. 1949 the first dried soup, chicken noodle, was produced. 1972 'Cup A Soup' was launched. 2001 Unilever took over Bestfoods and Batchelors and Oxo were sold off to Campbell's Soups, whose UK operations were acquired by Premier Foods in 2006.

Batchelors PeasMaurice Batchelor married Ella Turner in 1923 and they had two sons who both worked for Unilever; Geoffrey Maurice Batchelor (1928-2006) and Peter R Batchelor (1938-) who was our boss in Malawi.

Over beers in The Drury Lane Hotel in 1979 we learned a lot about David Bruce and his peas -

In the post merger 1930s Unilever was firmly controlled from the two Head Offices in London & Rotterdam but this was forcibly broken during the war, never to return. See Ben Wubs 2008. In wartime 1943 Unilever London purchased significant businesses - the Birds Eye deep freezing rights and the Batchelor's canning business followed by Pepsodent in 1944.

Both Paul Rijkens and Geoffrey Heyworth were professional managers without the emotional attachment of ownership and were strongly averse to any dictatorship from the centre. Post war opportunities in canned, frozen, dehydrated & convenience foods were seized and involved changes not only in technology but also in 'industrialised' farming and product distribution ... and, of course, consumption habits. During the Unilever period there was heavy investment in technology from Unilever Research and in 19?? a spanking new cannery. The dehydrated pea was the result of 10 years R&D work at Coleworth on AFD and included not only the identification of the best variety, but also the pricking of each individual pea to perfect rehydration. Thus was 'Surprise Peas' in 1965.

David the Bruce in his own words - Well now, where to start? The beginning seems reasonable!

The CV concocted in 1979 summarised the story to date ...

Wadsley BridgeI started in Foods II Research, actually, with the understanding that I would move to Batchelors. My plan was to take a well-earned break after graduation; Unilever’s plan (Batchelors) was rather different - 'Graduate Thursday', report to Wadsley Bridge (Sheffield HQ) Monday! The sweetener was 2 weeks paid leave come September and with a princely £25 in the Bank of Scotland account (mainly from expenses on the milk runs) it was, as they say nowadays, a 'no-brainer'!

First 2 weeks at Wadsley Bridge, 'learning' quality control of cans and canning of peas (in those days, as well as peas, butter beans, beans in sauce (ie Heinz) and tomato soup plus a few other odds and ends).

Armed with this knowledge, I was dispatched to Worksop to report to the Factory Manager, Charles (never call me Charlie) Cooper, who, not knowing I was coming, and not knowing what to do with me, told me to go and find some digs (he suggested a pub) and report to Albert Tinner, night shift manager. The factory was in its first season dealing with fresh peas, drying them to become 'Surprise'. Albert wondered who I was, checked the daybook, and left a note for the FM asking who I was. However, he took my word for it, and told me to learn about booking in the truck loads of peas at the gatehouse (no way was I allowed to see the top secret production lines – despite being able to describe in detail the Wadsley Bridge lines!) On Tuesday night, the daybook had a note about the oversight the previous day, and so I was allowed in past the gatehouse! It took me a couple of weeks to become indispensable to Albert, who then was able to spend every night sitting in the canteen or his 'office' while I made sure no stray peas went into the drains – to prevent them ending up in the Trent with the subsequent visit(s) of the Severn Trent Water Board. Even in 1963, pre EEC / EU days, pollution of the waterways was strictly forbidden!

Peas[Sidebar: every visit of the S-T W B Inspectors (and there were several) resulted in a written verbal battle in the daybook amongst Albert Tinner (permanent night shift) and Harry Clarke and Tom Barraclough (alternating day shifts) as to which lot had allowed the peas into the drains. Albert held the ace: he had a UCMDS trainee, no less, permanently patrolling the drains to ensure no errant peas went the way of the river! This had the unfortunate consequence for me that when the night shift was no longer required, I was given the special project of keeping the yard (and thus the drains) pea free by the FM. Come the summer of 1965, however, this training would stand me in good stead!]

[Second sidebar: after 3 weeks on night shift, and some heavy rain, pea harvesting was getting bogged down and so Worksop was to stand down for the weekend from 2 pm Saturday until 6 am Monday. Just finish off the drying of what came in on Saturday morning, and do some highly necessary cleaning and maintenance and repairs. Albert decided his protégé could handle this on his own (good experience, he said) and so elected to go fishing on the Saturday and take the night off – and the sun came out early to make his day at the river a pleasant one. Acting N S Manager (UCMDS trainee) wanders up the lane about 9:30 pm past a line of about 10 truckloads of peas beginning to sweat nicely. Arriving at the locked gates, I asked the gatemen what was up, to be told that Manager Harry Clarke had locked the gates at 2 pm, and no more peas were to be allowed in – send them to Sheffield! I was told by Harry that 'Viner Control' in Sheffield had decided to get the harvest in because the sun had shone, but his instructions were to shut up shop when he came on at 2, and he would be advising Albert to do the same when he arrived. Ah well, come 10, Harry was off – I could tell Tinner what to do! (Note of explanation here: Worksop didn’t employ students; they got a dispensation for women to work nights, but, of course, not 7 nights, thus Saturday night and Sunday night operated with 50% of the normal number – no problem normally, reduced intake of peas, and run 2 lines instead of 4 – good for maintenance on the other 2 as well.)
Unknown to me, one of my night shift crew got married that Saturday. Most of my team attended the wedding and rolled (staggered) in just before 10 pm. Viner Control finally managed to speak to someone sensible (their words) and there began a memorable night. The gates were opened, and a steady stream of trucks rolled in through the night. The night shift sobered up in the heat and humidity by midnight at the latest, and proved that a reduced crew could run 4 lines, no bother. (By then, I had a very healthy respect for the Worksop ladies work ethic.) True, there were a couple incidents concerning young lady forklift drivers and engineering fitters in the dried pea store, but dropping sacks on them sorted that out!

Interesting, eh? We’re not finished yet! Around 3:30 – 4:00 am, tannoy calls went out for Mr Tinner, Night Shift manager. The Gatemen knew I was on my own – and so what was up? I got to a phone and called them to be told I had a visitor just as the Technical Director, Ken Saunders rolled (staggered) in and announced that it wasn’t an official visit. He had been at a 'function' in Sheffield and was on his way home (he lived nearby) when he fancied a cup of tea, and where better to get a decent 'mash' than the Worksop canteen? Over tea, he wondered where Tinner was? I said he’d not felt too well, and so had left me to it since things seemed fairly quiet! 'Fishing, was he?' said Saunders. And before I could answer, 'How did you cope with all the peas at 10 o’clock when the crew had been at a wedding all afternoon?' No fool he!

Post script: I can still see in my mind’s eye the look on Tom Barraclough’s face when he arrived at 5:45 on Sunday morning to take over cleaning duties from Albert Tinner (awol).

Ach I’ve prattled on too long with my intro (just like FM in Hawaii) and I’ve only covered my first 3 months in Unilever! Next stop, Torry Research (outpost of URL Colworth House) reporting to A Colin C Baxter, who went off to run Mars (mentioned in FM’s book) and was replaced by Edgar Graham. 2 years at Torry wasting my time pursuing one of Unilever’s ill-conceived technical innovations (but worth a couple of decent yarns) before returning to Batchelors, Sheffield to undergo 'proper' training! Some decent yarns from my Sheffield days (1965 – 1966) before 4 very happy and fruitful years at Ashford Factory (plenty of good yarns). 1970 – off to Thailand on a 'return ticket' that I was never likely to use, even less as time went on.
If you’re up for it, I’ll happily start filling in some blanks for you!

After the 1963 pea (and french bean) season, around mid-September, I had my 2 weeks paid leave before reporting for duty at Unilever Food Development Unit at Torry, Aberdeen. In its wisdom, the UK Government had investigated Accelerated Freeze Drying (AFD) as a method of food preservation. (The 'Cold War' made it essential that we should be prepared.) The Ministry of Food appointed Unilever to provide the facilities for its boffins (the fish scientists mainly) to investigate this method of safeguarding the country against blockade. The Ministry reached a point where they had 'perfected the methods, and it was now ready for commercial exploitation by private industry' – i.e. it had run out of taxpayers’ money to pursue this particular route to national bankruptcy! As the incumbent, Unilever was given first option, and they fell for it!

The former fish research unit was taken over by Unilever as a branch of URL Colworth – and actually went on to success in fish farming, choosing salmon (because of its difficulty, of course – crack salmon, and the rest would be easy!) as the starting point. The AFD part (Food Development Unit – FDU) was directly responsible to the Foods II Co-ordination in Unilever House (one A Colin C Baxter). It had been sited at Torry because of ready access to very cold water from the North Sea, where the River Dee entered. The cold water was required for efficient operation of the vacuum plant.
The Unit was run by a motley crew of people collected from different parts of Unilever plus some locals inherited from the original team; although there were a (very) few Englishmen, most of the team were Scots – a distinct advantage over the English, but only just so, if you originated from south of Stonehaven! The Site Manager, John Dickinson, was from Merseyside, recently returned from New Zealand; the 'Production Manager', Bill Churchill was from somewhere in England, ex-Bachelors, (more of him later), previously Factory Manager at Bachelors, Portadown, recently closed because of the failure to catch on of 'Promise' powdered, ready mashed potatoes. (Well, if you were going into the dried potato business, where better to start up than in Ireland, with its ready supply of potatoes [regardless of whether they were the right variety] and cheap labour?); the Factory Engineer was Bill Anderson, Aberdeen born and bred; the Research Manager was Campbell Galbraith, Glaswegian, drafted in from Colworth House. There were two of us reporting to Campbell, (Chris ?? an Englishman name forgotten) from Birds Eye, and I, a replacement for Peter Shroeder who went to Colworth, and ended up with Heinz.

Then, there was Miss Reid, the Canteen Manager. The canteen was subsidised (of course) and available to both FDU and CH personnel (under the leadership of [acceptable to the locals] Irishman Tom Little). The CH part had all the facilities required – analytical and micro-biological laboratories, experimental kitchen, chefs and, of course, scientists including Kirsteen Kelly, who will crop up later. Use of the canteen was optional, but not always! When the Aberdeen Cholera outbreak occurred, everyone apart from the boiler man and the two plant operators were assembled in the Canteen. John Dickinson introduced Bill Reid (no relative) the senior micro-biologist who gave a brief, but very good summary of what cholera was, and how to avoid contracting it. John Dickinson then announced that, as a sign of our confidence in Miss Reid, ALL breaks and meals would for the duration be taken by all personnel in the canteen! Unilever’s contribution to the cause was to cut all prices by 50%.

I learned a couple of valuable lessons at the AFD FDU. The first was how to write reports in Unilever.

John Dickinson was, by 'trade', a 'work study man', and like his entire breed, a stickler for detail. He was having a house built from scratch, and it would accommodate amongst other things, furniture brought back from New Zealand. The house was, therefore, designed around that furniture. Aberdonian builders very soon learned that 'aboot' was not ever to be a pre-fix for a measurement, and cost-cutting in the cement/sand mix was equally taboo! On his way home from work every day, John went to check on the day’s progress by the builders. All newly laid bricks were tested for resilience. After the first two occasions on which the previous day’s work was found in a heap by the returning builders, they learned not to skimp on the cement! Similarly, after having to demolish and rebuild a couple of walls to move the door opening 2 inches (to accommodate the furniture destined for that room!) the brickies learned that 'aboot a fit' was NOT a measurement! The electricians made sure that all sockets and switches were within 1/16th of an inch of their planned spot.

I should have known! Campbell was on holiday, and so John was in loco parentis. He asked me for a report – draft handwritten in those days – that was duly delivered to his secretary who just smiled at me as she accepted it. About an hour later, I was called in to review my efforts, and to be very fair, John had read the draft, and went through it again with me in detail, before announcing 'So, you see, it isn’t really good enough' whilst tearing it up and dropping it into his waste basket. He wanted the replacement first thing next day, which he got. At morning tea break, he asked me to go with him to his office to review attempt number 2. Once again, a detailed review, followed by 'This is much better, but I think you’ll agree, not really good enough for me to send to Unilever House' as the remnants hit the waste basket. The third, and subsequent attempts were all written with carbon paper inserted between two sheets: I may have been a slow learner, but three times having to construct tables of data were enough!

I inherited two years worth of data from Peter Schroeder. Whatever else he was (and actually, he was a very clever researcher), Peter was not disciplined with regard to data storage. Checking back on work he had done was a nightmare. Whilst at Wadsley Bridge, meeting the department heads, the factory accountant, and ex-coal board man, impressed me. He also introduced me to card index filing, using a very simple and inexpensive (I thought) system. It consisted of a set of cards about the size of a post card, with holes punched around the perimeter, each numbered. There must have been about 160 holes, I think. The idea was that you put a brief summary of data on the card, and with a special tool removed the outer edge of certain holes. The third element was, for want of a better description, a knitting needle stuck into a wooden handle. As long as the cards were kept 'right side up', they could be stored in any order. To find all the cards with a specific characteristic, stick the needle in the correct hole, and the ones you were looking for fell out (because the outer edge had been removed). Although you could have the cards printed with specific boxes etc, the standard version was lined – good enough for my purpose! It took me 2 months to convince Campbell to invest the £5 in a basic kit. 100 cards, puncher and knitting needle to hand, I started to put together my system: today’s work first, followed by any related stuff, and then in my spare time start working back; Peter’s work would become part of the system as it came into play. Next day – 24 hours after getting the kit – Campbell walked into my office and asked for everything related to something or other, going back 3 years. After all, he had authorised spending £5 on what I needed!

It was common knowledge that the likely destination for AFD was Bachelors – where I was likely to end up. Any request I made to learn about the two full-sized AFD units, including the vacuum equipment, was firmly rejected. I was to stick with the Experimental Vacuum Equipment (E.V.E.). The significance of this will become obvious - left and right hands?

The Torry FDU was to be wound up later in 1965, but the Colworth Fish Section would remain. I was transferred to Batchelors Foods Ltd, Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield in time for the 1965 pea season. My farewell 'Tea' was interesting. Bill Churchill – a 'forbidden' figure for two years – and scapegoat for the Portadown fiasco, looked at me squarely through his bottle-bottom glasses and solemnly warned me to watch my back in Sheffield – trust no-one! Bill Anderson laughed and said that I should remember: 'There are engineers, and there are fitters, and then there’s Sheffielders!'
And so off south to 'The dirty picture in a golden frame'!

'Proper' training at Bachelors Head Office and Sheffield Factory (1965)

My introduction to Batchelors was salutary. The first manager I met was 'Nick' Nyquist, the Company Personnel Officer (who will re-appear much later!). His opening words were 'Why are you on a salary of £950?' Having started in 1963 on £850, I had received two increases of £50 whilst at the FDU, this being based on the fact that I was employed by Foods II Co-ordination. Apparently, the first of these increases had been discretionary, and Batchelors had not awarded them. I would, therefore, have to wait until others had caught up with me before any further adjustment! The second thing he told me was that the Company would pay for a hotel for 2 nights, and then I would have to move to a b&b (within the budget) for not more than 12 nights after which I would be self-funding. The sooner I found 'permanent' rented accommodation, the better – but don’t enter any long term contracts because I could be transferred at any time!

The 'training programme' would involve periods in every part of the company, with short periods in Head Office (marketing, sales, data processing, catering supplies, etc) and longer periods in factory departments (engineering, work study, quality control, personnel, accounts) with most of the time in production.

The Chairman of the Company was Philip 'Toilet' Shirley, an Australian who had come to Batchelors from Unilever House, where he had been Chief Accountant. A few years later, at Four Acres, on IMS 27 I met John Campbell who had been a trainee working for Shirley in Unilever House. He told me that, at the end of January (1963?) on a Friday afternoon around 4:30 when it was already getting dark, and snow was falling, he took the first print-out of the annual accounts up to Shirley’s office, which looked out onto the inner triangle in Unilever House. He presented Shirley with the sheets of computer output, declaring in solemn tones that this was the first run of the Unilever accounts. Shirley opened the window, took the tome, and flung it into the snow declaring: 'I’m not interested in history!' It was obviously his ticket out of Unilever House – but where was he to land?
Legend has it that Philip Shirley arrived at Batchelors Head Office on Claywheels Lane, Wadsley Bridge, Sheffield early one Monday morning, before anyone working there had arrived, to be greeted by the security man and the cleaners (who were 'factory' employees) and swore them to secrecy as he installed himself in his office. When his secretary arrived, she, too, was sworn to secrecy, but told what his coffee and tea needs were! On Wednesday, his fellow Board members received a memo informing them that there would be a Directors’ Meeting the following day at 08:00. The legend recounts about how the sole late-comer was dealt with, and various other events, but the important one was his opening self-introduction:
'My name’s Philip Shirley, I’m Australian, I used to be Unilever’s Chief Accountant, and you’re all sitting there thinking ‘what the hell does this fella know about peas?’ The answer, gentlemen, (ignoring his female secretary who was taking minutes) is nothing – sweet F A! But, I do understand human nature, and its needs, including waste disposal. Every person who comes on to this site will have a need to use the lavatories – visitors as well as employees – and in a facility processing edible foodstuffs, lavatories need to be clean, Mr Saunders (looking directly at Ken Saunders), and on this site all the lavatories are an absolute disgrace. Worksop (when did he go there?) is only marginally better. Before I visit Huntingdon tomorrow on my way home to London for the weekend, and then Ashford on Monday before I come back here, I expect every lavatory belonging to this company to be sparkling, and I believe you, Mr Saunders, are the Director responsible for factories, and for the Head Office cleaners provided by Sheffield Factory across the road.'

'Next subject: security: while you lot have been wondering for three days where your new boss is, I have been inspecting every nook and cranny of this site and Worksop factory.'

The best way to cover the next two years as a UCMDS Trainee at Sheffield is to recall memorable incidents. But first, a little background information will be helpful. Fresh peas begin to degrade from the moment they are picked – 'vined' – and so speed is of the essence from field to process. Originally, the pea viners stripped the pea pods from the vines and then the peas were removed from their pods at the factory. By 1963 (Worksop experience) mobile viners were in use and the peas were brought to the factory in square metal tanks each holding about a ton of peas. The trucks usually carried 8 tanks (2x4) or 10 tanks (2x5), and these were weighed in (every truck and every tank was tared). On arrival, the name of the game was to unload the tanks as quickly as possible, and, normally, in rotation, disgorge the contents into flumes. As soon as a tank was off the truck and on the ground, a sample of the contents was taken, checked in a 'tenderometer' and graded as to its ultimate destination. The small, sweet peas went to become 'Surprise' dried peas; the bigger, more mature peas headed for the cannery to become 'Garden Peas'. The whole arrival process was a bit more complex , and some of it will be revealed later, but for current purposes, this will suffice. In its original efforts, Colworth House (influenced by Birds Eye experience), restricted 'Surprise' to only the smallest, sweetest peas. Batchelors, however, once they got their hands on it, thought that there was more mileage in this, and so the emergence of 'Fraction 10'! 'Fraction 10' peas were a bit bigger and less sweet than 'Surprise', but not necessarily mature enough for relegation to canning. By passing these 'Fraction 10' peas through a bath of syrup, they could be sweetened up before becoming 'Catering Grade Surprise Peas'.

Bet you can’t wait for the next episodes!

I’ve clocked off for today, John, but for what it’s worth, here’s where I’ve reached!

I reported to Geoff 'Twinkle-toes' Twine, Production Manager, Sheffield Factory, who introduced me to one of his two Shift Managers, Maurice Duffy (Jack Delamore, he of the fearsome reputation, was on 'back' shift). Maurice would give me a guided tour, after which I was to study the technical details about the 'Fraction 10' process. Later in the week, I would report to the Factory Engineer, Mr Brown, for my engineering training.

Engineering Training – 'There are engineers, there are fitters, and then there are Sheffielders!'

The new 'Fraction 10' building was being thrown together in a hurry to be completed before the arrival of the ripening peas. Since I was to be one of the three shift managers running 'Fraction 10' for the summer (good of the Engineer to tell me!), it made sense for me to work with the engineering foreman, Denis, responsible for installing the plant in the building being build around and over it. But first, I had to learn how the engineering department worked, and so a couple of days meeting the foremen and chargehands, learning about the boilers (coal fired) and stores. Then off up the hill to 'Fraction 10'! Hive of activity that was. Building contractors were busy adding walls and roof to the skeleton steel frame. Within it, there was a mixture of Batchelors fitters and electricians and mechanical and electrical contractors positioning and connecting up the four lines of plant, mostly stainless steel, and mostly purpose built. To the untutored eye, there seemed to be no apparent regard to how the undelivered bits of the line were to get into the building, let alone slotted into place. When I asked my colleague, Denis the foreman in charge, he shrugged and said something about 'just have to take the walls down, I suppose'. It was also pretty evident that all the difficult, dirty, inaccessible jobs were allocated to contractors, whilst the Batchelors men did the 'easy' bits. My one real 'altercation' was when I saw the main steam pipes being positioned prior to welding. These were 4' pipes to feed the syrup tanks and the drying bed radiators. They were positioned at right angles to the direction of flow of the lines, and at about knee height (nice and easy for the Batchelors welders to weld. They did, however, provide nothing short of an obstacle course for the plant operators who would have to move back and forward along the lines. I suggested to my friend Denis the foreman, that it might be better to run the steam pipes at about 8’ or more, and drop the 2' feeds to the equipment, thereby leaving the walking space (narrow though it was) clear for the operators to move unimpeded along the lines. My former friend, Denis the foreman, responded by telling me it was easier to run the pipes at knee height, and that, in any case, 'it would just be them students that would need to climb over the steam pipes'.

Job done. I went off for the next bit of my training (Catering Department – anxiously awaiting arrival of the miracle 'F10' peas to unleash on unsuspecting hotels, pubs and works canteens). I did, however, as instructed use my lunch breaks to observe progress on my future fiefdom. I usually waited for lorries to arrive with shiny new stainless steel on board to watch it being slotted in to the lines. Denis & Co did not greet me with enthusiasm as I watched walls having to be removed, existing plant taken out and put back, and even the knee height steam pipes awkwardly negotiated to accommodate the latest arrival. At final inspection before commissioning, the safety officer fortunately decreed that the steam pipes at knee height were a hazard, and to deal with the problem, 'bridges' had to be provided for 'them students' to charge up and down. From a hazy memory, I think Denis & Co had to build 12 of the things – might have been easier to put the pipes up at 8’ to begin with – and in any case, that’s what was done during the following winter after the reports on experiences gained operating the plant were read and digested.
Before leaving the Batchelors Engineering department, it is worth recounting an incident about a year later. I was responsible for the cannery at the time, and was asked by Denis (I had been forgiven) if I could lend him a couple of the 'heavy gang' plus a fork-lift to unload a delivery. I obliged, and, intrigued, went to observe the unloading of the crate by my (female) forklift driver and a couple of the 'heavy gang'. No sooner was the crate on the ground, than it was attacked with crowbars and hammers to see the contents, whilst Denis studied the paperwork.
'What is it?' – 'Can unscrambler.'
'Who ordered it?' – 'Don’t know – Twinkle-toes probably.'
'It’ll never work.'
Verdict reached, the machine was dragged indoors, along with the white enamelled metal plate attached to it, with the message in large red letters: 'Important Notice. This machine must be located as close to the ground as possible, and in a horizontal position.' 'We’ll install it over the weekend for you' and that was that. Until Monday morning, that is, when at shortly after 6 am, it began to rain cans of peas in the cannery. Looking up, I spotted what was now called 'Twinkle-toes folly', just below the roof, attached to the girders at an angle of about 45°, with a large white sheet of metal with red writing on it. Taking shelter from the cans raining down, Denis and a couple of fitters announced: 'knew it would never work!' I had to stop the line while the offending kit was disconnected. 'We’ll get rid of it on the night shift', I was told, and sure enough, come Tuesday morning it was gone. I took a stroll around the back of the boiler house to what was known as the graveyard, and there it lay, amongst many, many other bits of machinery 'that would never work' – Twinkle-toes folly, the 5-minute wonder!

Bill Anderson’s ghost chuckled: 'There are engineers, there are fitters, and then there’s Sheffielders!'

Not sure when I shall continue this, John, but there’s two pea seasons worth of fun to come before I escape from Wadsley Bridge.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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