Later Years

I went from department to department, it was like an unpaid apprenticeship. F.T. Jones the works manager was very nice to me. I saw him one morning and asked for a move. I told him that I'm getting fed-up with what I'm doing and I'm interested in engineering. He said "Oh you are, are you. Carry on with your work and I'll see what I can do".

When I was about fifteen an a half he moved me down to the engine bench and I had to bits and pieces such as tap the heads of the tappets, and tap and file the tappet rod. Eventually I went on to the flywheel balancing, balancing flywheels singly and then doubly. I then went on to the department building the heads for the overhead engines, putting the valves in and grinding the seats, making the head complete with the springs and the valve, ready for the engine fitter to put on as a unit, they did all the other work. 

Sunbeamland from Pool Street.

I had a spell in the progress, so that I went around every department, until in 1934, F.T. Jones said "Do you think that you could systemise the toolroom?". I said "I don't know what you mean sir, what do you want me to do?". He said "Well its all a shambles, nobody knows what and where, and can't pinpoint anything. Can you sort something out?". And I said "yes Sir I can", so I went into the toolroom in 1934 and carried on there until 1972. I put a system in and as the years went by I had to liaise between the drawing office and the development department, because everything came through them for making tools for the next product. We went from the start of little hand presses to one or two good power presses, and it developed and developed. Eventually we got some 500 tonners 
After the war, H. E. Clive became Managing Director. He came from Witton and had a high pitched voice. He was a considerate man who started to pull things together, and soon things did improve. In 1939 I was working on presses at Fordhouses and asked Mr. Clive if we could have a sports field. At the time, we had a big order for car radiators, and Mr. Clive's response to my question was "You know everyone around the factory, I want you to tell people how important this order is. If everyone will do their best, you can have a sports field". Everyone did do their best, and he was as good as his word, we had a sports field.
B. J. Evans was an electrician and brother-in-law of the Works Manager, F. T. Jones. He did everything well and introduced cyanide hardening. We had previously used muffle and pot hardening, where the articles to be hardened were placed in pots with sand and carbon crystals. After preparation the pots were placed in ovens, left overnight and cooled the next day in water.

Cyanide hardening is a quick process and doesn't involve overnight heating. Mr. Evans' first demonstration didn't work too well. It resulted in an explosion which damaged the roof.

Mr. Evans used to teach at the Technical College and was a successful lecturer who had a lot of enthusiastic students.

  The works from the northern end of Jeddo
Sunbeam enamelling was so good that it was said that it could hold the bike together. When I.C.I. took over, they made enamels and B. J. Evans developed an auto enamelling process using the I.C.I. products. It involved automatic dipping and automatic ovens. When it was introduced the enamel easily chipped and the first 350 bikes that were made using the process had to be returned, and re-enamelled. The problem however, was soon resolved.

When Sidney Bowers was replaced by Graham Bellingham  in 1931, a time and motion study was introduced. B. J. Evans was in charge of it but it was a ruthless business. It did get better later on and continued until the late 1930's. A lot of experienced people gave up their jobs to get involved in the time and motion study, and carry out measurements on their friends. I was in the toolroom at the time and we never had it there, as everything that you did was different.

I worked for Marston's for forty eight and three quarter years, and finished in 1972.

Return to
Elms Works
Return to the Beginning Proceed to Sunbeamland