We recently swapped emails with a former employee of ours, Rick Fernay, who is now 89 years old. Here is the story of how he found us again, together with some recollections of his time with us.
I recently received an email from a relative in the Midlands containing a clipping which describes ‘The world’s biggest spade’ manufactured by Bulldog Tools. I then spent a considerable time on your excellent website which brought back many memories of my time at Clarington Forge.
Even though it’s 29 years since I left I still have many memories of the old days.
I started work at 14 years of age in 1935. One of my earliest memories relates to my first job as ‘office boy’. Twice a day I had to load up a brief case and trek from Clarington Forge to head office in the Wiend, Wigan. Occasionally I would be instructed to call on the way back at the Pepper Mill in Darlington Street to pick up extremely heavy phosphor-bronze bushes etc Whenever possible I always tried to arrange my journeys to coincide with the times when the directors would be en route from Head Office, hopefully to be offered a lift! Eventually I was able to buy a pushbike for the journey which was great until it was stolen from outside the Wiend office. However the directors very kindly provided a free replacement.
Another of my tasks was to go across the road to pick up hot pies for the more senior staff members’ lunches. One very wet day I dropped the whole lot in the middle of the road where they came in contact with a variety of foreign deposits, consisting mostly of that left by horses which were occasional road users in those days!
During the early days of my career ‘on the road’ as a sales rep I recall the first time I worked this local area. On calling at Popletts the ironmongers in Peacehaven I was confronted by a notice in the window which read ‘WE SHOOT EVERY THIRD REP-THE SECOND ONE JUST LEFT’.
I also recall an endless journey home one Friday after staying in Portsmouth. I was en route to Barkingside in Essex where we then lived. Just as I entered the London area a typical ‘pea-souper’ fog descended reducing my speed to a crawl. Eventually I realised I was in the Elephant and Castle area of London and I continued to proceed in the direction of home (I thought!). Twice during the next couple of hours I found myself back at the Elephant before the fog finally cleared. So much for my powers of navigation!
I really did enjoy those days. Apart from the actual travelling around my area there were the visits to Wigan for the annual Reps’ Conference and annual shows such as Hardware Trades Fair, Public Works Exhibition and various agricultural exhibitions.
Fortunately I didn’t have to carry a sample of ‘the world’s biggest’ around with me back then!!
I trust you’ll keep the old firm going strong and I send my best wishes to you all.