West Yorkshire market town of Pontefract
Pontefract Letters Page



On a 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.

Shortly 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 The stories Malcolm told me about Stan's experiences as a driving instructor are not for publication but were very hilarious.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 WAY!"

I wish you every success for the future with your publication and trust it will grow from strength to strength.

W.H.Reeves. Scarborough

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