THE VULCAN CLUB, PONTEFRACT
ADDED 28 FEBRUARY 2007
recent visit to relatives in Pontefract, I was handed a copy of the
February issue No. 24, of the Digest where my attention was drawn to the
article about the Vulcan Club. I found this fascinating to read and it
brought back many memories of my period in the town.
after our marriage at St. Gilesí Church in 1956, my wife and I moved in
with her parents at 8 The Circle on the Chequerfield Estate, where they
owned the Fish and Chip Shop. My father-in-law was then Works Manager at
Ewbanks Liquorice Works and my mother-in-law had retired as a Forewoman
at Hillaby's Liquorice Works.
Shortly afterwards, we purchased 80 Churchbalk Lane and after working
at Wilkinson Cabinet Works for a short period, I managed to secure
employment with Granville Brooks in Kings Street. This is when I first
met Malcolm Lodge, who was mentioned in the article on the Vulcan Club
and who had been apprenticed at Tommy Brinkley's, who incidentally was a
magistrate. I always envied Malcolm as he studied at Whitwood Technical
College and had received a City & Guilds Award. I later discovered that
this was at Craft Level and not the Full Technological Certificate. I
know that he later worked at Wilkinson's Cabinet Works and lived not far
away with his family.
However there are several names that I can recall from the period
working for Granville, these being Ron Dole, who was shop foreman,
Malcolm Lodge and Derrick Greenwood. There were also three apprentices;
Charlie, Young Malcolm a Pot Holer, who was trapped in a cave somewhere
where his rescue became national news, and Keith Campy. The latter
always seemed to work with me and drove me mad with his continuous
rendition of Elvis Presley's "Me and my Blue Suede Shoes".
I later started in business on my own account and with the kind help of
Cliff Beal, who owned the Grocerís Shop in Churchbalk Lane, and who
rented me a small piece of land, I was able to erect a workshop on his
premises. One of the first people to work for me was Malcolm Lodge, who
was by this time very involved with the Vulcan Club and he was always
talking about his friend Stan Fiske who was a driving instructor, if I
recall correctly, later to become President of the club. The stories
Malcolm told me about Stan's experiences as a driving instructor are not
for publication but were very hilarious.
In 1959 I was able to purchase a smallholding from Howard Chandlerís
father at the back of Carleton Church, where I built up a very
successful business and employed approximately 150 people. It is sad to
recall that the business folded in 1975, mainly due to the Miners
Strike, the three day working week which followed, local government
changes with the Metropolitan Areas being established and most
importantly Ted Heathís government. In my view a total disaster and
second only to Harold Wilson and his failures. The factory has now been
replaced with residential accommodation.
I accept full responsibility for my failures, but although devastating
at the time, with hindsight it was a relief from the pressures
surrounding me, particularly during this period. However I am consoled
by encouraging words that were said to me by a prominent person at the
time; "Failure is evidence that someone has tried to do something."
Before moving on I do wish to recall some wonderful people who helped me
during my business career. Jimmy Long who was the first craftsman to
join me at Carleton, Michael McVeigh, whose talents I underestimated
initially, Graham Taylor, the Works Manager and Frank Dobson who brought
his years of experience from Wilkinson's Cabinet Works to the firm and
was tremendously helpful in setting up the Tool Room. The latter two
having now sadly passed away.
I am unsure whether Mr. H. B. Robinson, Branch President of the Vulcan
Club, 1995-97 is the same Harold Robinson who was a representative for
Pearl Insurance with Geoff Liversedge, the latter who lived in
Churchbalk Lane at the time.
Since retiring as Head of Construction at a Local Technical College in
1996, I am now able to look back and assess my working life. I have no
regrets and have made many mistakes in my life. Having said that, I
would not change a thing and will finish on this note - "I DID IT MY
you every success for the future with your publication and trust it will
grow from strength to strength.
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