Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 130,401 pages of information and 207,072 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Note: This is a sub-section of Thomas Bolton and Sons
Oakmoor 1903-1957: The Years between by Enoch Berrisford.
FOREWORD BY MR. D.W. BRAY, DIRECTOR AND GENERAL MANAGER, THOMAS BOLTON & SONS LIMITED.
It gives me great pleasure to introduce this booklet, for it is not only a record of one man's memories but an insight into a way of life less hurried and less feverish than today, although the work was hard and the hours long. It was written at a time when the Oakamoor Works was being phased out and the work transferred to Froghall.
The Works at Oakamoor, formerly belonging to the Cheadle Brass Wire Company, had been rolling Tinplate since 1777- It had been bought by Thomas Bolton's sons, Alfred and Francis, in 1852 and so the firm of Thomas Bolton 4 Sons, which had been established in Birmingham since 1783, arrived in the valley. The Works finally closed in 1963 and the big chimney, the last remnant of its former glory, was dropped in September of that year.
The Company donated the site to Staffordshire County Council on condition that it was used as a picnic and leisure area and so this beautiful spot, full of historical memories, now brings pleasure to many visitors each year.
I sincerely hope you will enjoy this booklet - it is presented here exactly as the author penned it.
Froghall, Staffordshire September, 1980.
Thomas Bolton and Sons Limited would like to express their thanks to the author's son and daughter (Mr. P. Berrisford. Machine Shop Toolroom, Froghall, and Miss Mary Berrisford) for their kind permission to reproduce this booklet. At their request the original manuscript is to be retained in the Company's archives.
It was the first of January, 1903, and how well I remember the first day of my working career for the copper manufacturing firm of Thomas Bolton & Sons at Oakamoor, Staffordshire. The Company in those far off days was not burdened with the letters Ltd in the rear of its title.
It was a concern owned privately by its respected owners. This in itself is responsible for the many differences prevailing today in industry as compared with the past, and although this review of my thoughts, memories and experiences is not intended to be based on making comparisons which, as the saying goes "are odious", I cannot refrain from saying at the onset that the past was not, as some may assert, to be labelled in truth as the Bad Old Days.
I am sure they were not by any means "bad old days". On the contrary, generally speaking we were very happy. I am prepared to admit that in many ways today our knowledge is greater, but our Peace is certainly less secure. I will also admit that today we have more leisure time than in the past, but whether that is a gain or not depends on how that leisure time is spent. And viewed from that angle, I am not so sure. Where Leisure is wedded to Idleness the offspring could be safely given the name of Boredom.
In days gone by we made our own amusements. They were not mechanised and standardised as they are today. Also there was no lack of number or variety. The people who took part in these activities were real people with individual personalities, and, as such, were our heroes. There was the Works Brass Band, the Choral and Orchestral Society, under the guiding hand and the tireless enthusiasm of Mr. M. A. Bolton, which was the means of giving the first introduction not only to their employees, but to all the surrounding villages, to such things as the Divine words and glorious music of Handel's Messiah and the like. There were the most wonderful cricket matches, with players in their ordinary working clothes, not many had white flannels, but they played just as well in spite of that. We had Flower Shows and Sports and Sunday School treats. At Christmas every workman had a gift from the firm of a joint of Beef and a Plum Pudding. We had lots of concerts in the wintertime in the schools, including the ever popular Nigger Minstrels, and in all this the talent was local.
In those days many of the older men adopted fishing in the river as their hobby and it was apparent to the most casual observer that therein they had discovered an Avenue which led to "the Peace which passeth all understanding". There were evening educational classes in the wintertime for youths on Engineering and kindred subjects. Our teacher was the Engineer at the Works and what he taught us was doubly valuable as it concerned subjects we needed in our daily work.
In addition to all these activities, which had the blessing of our employer, there is the lovely Memorial Chapel with its silent testimony that, in spite of the compelling necessity of being the means of providing for men's material and passing needs, Mr. A.S. Bolton had not overlooked or ignored man's need of the things of Eternity.
These are but a few of the things we had access to for our hours of leisure, to our great contentment, in those "bad old days" as a result of our association with the firm. We had not much money and, anyway, the things I have mentioned didn't cost much.
I think the first memory I possess which was associated with Boltons' Works was the sound of the old Mill bell. There were many functions at which it performed, besides being the signal for starting and ceasing work. Such things as Coronations, Jubilees, weddings and birthdays, coming of age celebrations in the Bolton family etc. It was the messenger of both war and peace, in fact it was the forerunner to Broadcasting, it was indeed an "institution" which evoked both respect and affection. It seemed so pastoral and its voice was in harmony with the Peace and incomparable beauty of our countryside. Soon after the start of my career at the Mill I remember, the old bell was threatened with danger. There had just been a new and powerful Manager installed at the Mill, (we called him 'Togo') and one of his many innovations to bring the Mill up to date was to replace the old bell with a steam hooter. it was a most impressive looking instrument and shone like burnished gold. In fact, I could not help thinking that the man who operated it ought to wear a suit of uniform such as our village Bandsmen wore.
However, my father and I received orders to install the thing. It had to be connected to a boiler some distance away from the offices and had to be attached to the Timekeeper's office by means of an overhead cable so that old factotum could operate it at the proper times. It was in the winter time and we had a terrible time crawling up and down the roofs and attaching various fittings to the gables of the buildings. My father seemed to have a secret grudge against the thing, which I shared with him. We didn't, deep in our hearts, want it to be a success. We had an awful job to make the thing work as the operating cable kept stretching.
Eventually, we were able to pronounce a completion of our part. Everyone was all excited at what would now happen. The old Timekeeper was at his post ready to release it on the stroke of six in the morning, which he did. And was it a success? I should say it was as nearly everyone laughed their heads off. It was the most hideous noise imaginable, it wailed and moaned and screamed like unto something in an agony of torment. Children were terrified and animals stampeded in the fields. It could be heard for miles around the countryside. Although we had succeeded, our secret prayer was to be answered dramatically. After a day or two's use, a letter arrived at the office from old Mrs. Bolton at Moor Court. It said quite briefly "Discontinue using the hooter". That silenced its voice forever.
My father, on being told, said "That's all I get for wearing out the knees and behinds of two pairs of trousers, crawling up and down those roofs". The old bell was reprieved and is still carrying on to this day. Long may it still endure.
To return to what I will call my "Works memories". First thing on presenting myself for work at the office, the old Timekeeper gave me a circular brass check, with a hole in it and also my number on it. He instructed me in the use of this emblem and I passed into the Works. No winner of the George Cross was more proud of his medal than I was of that brass check. We were allowed to take them home at nights and, although the Works numbers have many times been re-arranged since that time, I always remember my original number.
We worked 56 hours per week and were paid once a fortnight. My first wages amounted to 5/10d per week.
I commenced work in the Blacksmith's shop with my father, who was a Blacksmith, and I was destined to continue in that profession for over 54 years. I did not choose my own career and, at first, it did not appeal to me very much. As the years passed by I came to love the work and now I can truthfully say that, had my time over again, I would be nothing but a Blacksmith. It was revealed to me that in addition to the great variety of work, it was a "creative" job. Also, I am sure that tradition was indeed a great help to me as my family history in Blacksmiths goes back many generations.
My father was a superb craftsman and was recognised as such by all who knew him. He was a philosopher, a Botanist, a lover of Nature in all its lovely and wonderful aspects, and also a deeply religious man. He also looked the part of his occupation because he had a beard. He, with another Blacksmith of the highest skill (Mr. W. Perrins) used to teach us at the Methodist Sunday School.
In those days the Blacksmiths work was mostly maintenance work and therefore was attached to what was called "The Gang".
Today the men in that work prefer to be called "Engineers". It was alongside The Gang that I got my first lessons and impressions. They were a decent body of men, a bit prone to a weakness for the Beer, I remember. It was home brewed stuff in those days, but their code of honour to each other and to the boss was very high. There was lots of fun where The Gang were in those days, as well as plenty of work. If a new man was introduced he had to go through his training and many amusing situations developed and the old hands did not always come off as winners.
I remember an incident of one fresh man's reaction to the many annoyances he was subjected to. It happened in the Gang smithy. This new man, I remember, was very gentlemanly in every respect. He never swore or anything like that. This, in itself, singled him out for special provocation. They were tormenting him one day beyond endurance. He prepared to leave the shop in a temper and, as he passed out through the doorway, he turned round and shouted "fart” at the top of his voice. That produced roars of laughter. There were men present who could give, what they thought, was a classic demonstration of swear words who had never used that word in their lives, or any other swear word, to such effect. I feel sure that the Recording Angel would turn a deaf ear to that poor chap's lapse from the path of rectitude. Anyway, after that incident, he had no further trouble. He had given them proof that he was a human being and he was accepted as a worthy "Gang man".
I mentioned earlier that the Gang had a weakness for the Beer. Against that background, I must mention the fact that old Mr. Bolton frowned on the Beer no matter in what quantities it was taken, which leads to my next story. There was an oldish chap on the Gang who had a hot job as stoker at the Boilers, who often had a day or two off to quench his thirst. After one such absence, Mr. Bolton had him on the carpet to give an explanation. He charged him with getting too much drink and losing time. To which the man replied, "I only had two pints, Sir". Mr. Bolton did not swallow that as an extenuating explanation and like a shot, with a twinkle in his eyes, replied "Two pints, two pints man, it's enough to kill you".
At the time of which I am writing, the first halfpenny daily newspaper was launched. My father used to read it aloud to the circle of men who had collected in the smithy, having their breakfast. I was quite thrilled at his reading and his comments thereon. The men enjoyed it too. It was not possible for many to go home to breakfast in the village as it was too far away for the half-hour break. In these circumstances, children used to take father's food down to the Works. Strange as it seems today, we children were allowed to wander around the Works at will. In fact, by the time we were old enough to be employed, we already knew the rudiments of various copper manufacturing processes.
These meal time gatherings were in a nature to "the gathering of the Clans". Lots of incidents were centred round the meal times. I remember one incident worthy of mention. One of the Gang had been presented with a huge red cabbage. It was well hawked around for everyone's admiration. Then, when the owner was absent, the chaps got the cabbage and, procuring a six inch nail, after sawing off the head they drove the nail into the centre of the cabbage. Then came the weary waiting to see and hear the owner's reaction to this outrage. But as the days went by and never a word did he utter, something had to be done to force his hand my father decided. After a few days, when the men were gathered round for breakfast, he commenced to read as usual. Presently he came out with his own-made news, pretending it was in the paper. He said "Listen to what it says here - 'One of our readers relates the following incident: Amongst some apples he was preparing for cooking, one was found on being cut in two to contain a bird's claw embedded in the centre of the apple. It would be interesting to know if any other reader has had a like experience.'" After a brief space of time, the owner of the cabbage blurted out "Oh, ah, there's other folks fund things inter things".
The sequel to this came a few weeks later when the cabbage owner brought father a lovely basket of carrots which, when being prepared for cooking, revealed a huge nail in the centre of each one. I suppose that incident could be described as "repayment in kind". Anyway, it was a reprisal method of which my father heartily approved. I
I would like to mention here, in passing, another incident in our village life which seems to fit in with this "things fund inter things" topic. It is a true story of long ago which can raise a smile as memory travels backwards to the time of its happening.
In years gone by, our village postman had a white pony, to help him in his express delivery (there were no motor bikes as yet) of letters and parcels to outlying districts. This pony died suddenly and for no apparent reason. On a post mortem examination being carried out, it was discovered that in its stomach, or gall, was a huge stone, quite the size of a two-pound loaf. It was hard and smooth just like a pebble. It was exhibited in the Post Office window, with a label on it, describing the circumstances of its discovery, for many months. One old lady, who I knew very well, exclaimed on seeing it "Wouldn't you wonder how he managed to swallow it?".
If ever the boss caught anyone relaxing', we used to call it "getting cleaned up". I remember one such occasion when my father was the guilty party. He was sitting smoking behind the hearth, on his rickety old seat, (and it was rickety - besides having a leg missing it had to be pushed against the wall to make it stand at all), when in walked the Boss. In a spasm of feigned anger, he said "I'll have that damned seat broken up". To which my father replied, "I wish you would, it's about time I had a new one". Verily the soft answer turneth away wrath. The Boss enjoyed this answer as much as anyone present. I am quite sure that these stories which I remember and relate, whilst having nothing to do with the history of Boltons, do prove that the men were happy at their work.
In days gone by, Boltons had horses to do such things as the transport of ashes from the boilers and furnaces. These ashes were used to fill in what was left of the old canal in the village and now there are houses built upon this site. Previous to my time this canal used to pass along where the railway siding to the Works is established. There is still an iron post denoting where the canal passed by with the words "Etruria 20 miles Uttoxeter 10 miles" embossed upon it. I wondered if they would be nautical miles. Also, because of the canal, could Oakamoor be, in its small way, classed as an inland port because, in a way, it was directly linked up to the sea? I often try to visualise the boats passing along our lovely valley in harmony with the peaceful scene.
We village lads were sorry to see the old canal filled in as it contained pike which we used to catch with our home-made tackle. We had the idea, rightly or wrongly, that we had a right to fish in this derelict canal without a licence and, to us, 2/6d was a fortune we had not as yet amassed. There was no resident policeman in the village, so we were quite safe anyway. This canal was also a grand stretch of safe water for skating on in the winter time. If the ice did happen to give way, the worst we had to suffer was the terrific smell of the stagnant water, coupled with what was coming to us when we got home•
The railway was in those days the only means of transporting the manufactured copper items and also the medium by which supplies of raw essentials arrived. Most of the fuel used to come from the Cheadle coalfield by horse transport. On the Works there were no Auto-trucks or overhead electric cranes to move the heavy goods from one department to another. This was accomplished by a homely fleet of wheelbarrows with heavy iron trundles. Ball bearings and pneumatic tyres had never been thought of.
There was one thing which was very noticeable about the strong men engaged in this heavy form of transport, it was that the work had made them bow-legged.
I have mentioned how, at the inception of my employment, the old Timekeeper had instilled into me the rules and regulations of the Works. Well, this old Timekeeper was quite unmoved by anything except "the rules". It was he who administered the money fines on the men who transgressed against them, and the only reply they ever got to a protest was "Well you know the rules".
This old Timekeeper was an ex-Policeman and this seemed to give added finality to his decisions. Smoking was not allowed in working hours and if his eagle eye alighted on any one breaking this rule, it meant a fine of one shilling and no mercy. There was only one place where a man could safely have a smoke in working hours and that was in a place where officialism did not poke a smelly nose.
Another fine inflicted on men was 2/6d for losing time. I have known men fined for losing time who, with overtime, had worked almost 100 hours in a single week. Even that did not excuse them. These fines were extremely heavy out of the earnings of those days. All money received from fines was given to the Works Sick Fund.
To my mind, this did not make the system any more justifiable or invest it with any virtue. It was both harsh and dishonest and is one of those things which are better done away with and which today would be quite illegal, and rightly so.
At the commencement of my career at Boltons, the electrical age was just dawning as a means of power and also in connection with everything we need for our homes and, in addition, as later years have proved, it has been vital in either Peace or War. From an industrial point, this was fortunate for my employers as I feel sure that more copper articles and components are made for electrical purposes than are made from any other metal. At the time of which I speak, Boltons had two huge waterwheels still working in our factory. One was an all steel wheel and the other, being older, was constructed largely of wood.
It was a thrilling sight to my young mind to see the brilliant colours as the sun shone through spray, which the wheel caused as it spun on its axis. The power generated by these wheels was used by the sheet rolling mill and also for wiredrawing blocks.
It occurred to my mind that, although the machinery was rather slow moving, it must certainly be less expensive than steam and, at a later date, even than electricity. I should not be surprised to learn that this cheap means of power played an important part in laying a good foundation financially for the firm in its early history. It occurs to me that, even before it was a copper works, the reason it was built astride the river was on account of the abundant supply of water for power. That would be the reason why most early mills were built in the valleys.
There was a mill dam several acres in extent in the Works to supply the water wheels. As time went on the dam was filled in and the water wheels removed. I was really sorry to see that dam filled in as the Smithy was alongside it and it gave me a grand chance to observe the doings of Nature in the clear water for a few minutes now and then, when the Boss was not looking. There were trout and minnows and a host of wonderful living things could be studied and marvelled at.
The side of this dam consisted of a causeway which ran alongside the Gang Smithy, past the several windows, and it was very narrow, not more than a yard wide. It always seemed to be littered with various iron articles, apparently dropped at random. I often wondered why until one day I saw one of the Gang placing obstacles on the path. On enquiring why, he said "Well, when old 'so and so' comes rushing along past the windows to pay us a visit in the Smithy he can't catch us by looking through the windows because he has to look where he is setting his 'fate' down". Doubtless the old Engineer was not so slow as they thought about what was happening. His bark was always worse than his bite. He thought the world of his men and they were most loyal to him and his vocation.
The passage of time brings many and diverse changes, many of which are not just applicable to our Company's history and yet I feel them to be worthy of comment in my reminiscences. One such change I have pondered on is the disappearance of beards. In my early days, the works fairly "bristled" with beards. Old Mr.Bolton had a lovely silky white beard. Today there is not one to be found on the Works. Is it because of appearance they have become unpopular, I wonder? If so, I would like to tell a story which should negative such a reason.
It was in the First World War. We were unable to buy new boots but could get old Army boots which had been repaired. I decided to get a pair. I put them on at work and they were both painful and ugly. Looking down at them, I said to the man who was working with me "They are about the ugliest pair of boots I have ever seen". He replied "Dunner thee worry, they will be alright when thee eyes get used to them". It struck me as being very sound philosophy, worthy to be remembered regarding many things in life besides beards and boots. I do know this, that a man's face with beard attached is more easily visualised and remembered. It is also more natural.
Besides the waterwheels I have mentioned, all other power was derived from steam engines. One such engine would supply power for a whole Department. Consequently the machinery of those days was of a much heavier type than today. The men who drove these engines seemed to be a class apart, in that theirs was the controlling hand at the very heart of things. Was there ever a lad who didn't want to be an engine driver? I doubt it. That these men loved their engines was evidenced by the polish reflected by every part. All visitors had to be shown round the engine rooms.
There was one older relic still working 50 years ago. It was a beam engine and it supplied power for the draw benches in the Tube Shop. Its ponderous beam kept up its rhythmic movement for all the world like a giant see-saw. Very impressive to watch. The last of its kind. It is also said that prior to the advent of Boltons it used to supply power for a cotton mill.
However, all these former glories have passed away (but with one exception of which I will speak later) and nowadays each machine is powered by its own electric motor.
The change from steam to electricity was indeed an industrial revolution. Most men were familiar with the principles of the steam engine as a means of power, but electricity was, and always will be, more of a mystery. There is so much even in this scientific age which still remains to be discovered. One thing seems to be clear and rational to me regarding electricity. There are quite definite laws governing its behaviour which surely prove that it came into existence as a result of a Creative Mind and a definite plan. It didn't just "evolve" (a word cherished above all others by our materialistic scientists). Things which work to, or react to, certain definite laws cannot be said to have any reality in the materialistic evolutionary theory, so popular with our present day scientists.
Perhaps to some, the statement I have just made may seem a digression. If so, as a very amateur Philosopher, may I say that today science touches and affects our industrial lives at every point. This being so, I think it is vitally important to realise that all the results obtained have only been possible because all the elements and the laws governing them have been in the world since the dawn of Creation. Man has not created them, but only made the discovery and it will be at humanity's peril if we fail to obey these laws and apply them to the purpose for which they were intended by the Creator.
Haphazard evolution would produce chaos and the line of least resistance. Materialism has invested science with fear in the last 50 years. The object of my book is to look backwards with gratitude, therefore I will not indulge in prophecy.
Our firm has always been renowned in a world-wide sense for its products. It was surely a pioneer in the development and manufacture of copper wire. It would be no exaggeration to say that, in this article alone, the telegraph and telephone wire made at Oakamoor covers the earth. The generation of workmen preceding mine was never tired of telling with pride how the wire for the first Atlantic cable was made at Oakamoor.
What a thrilling story could be told of that one article of the Company's manufacture alone. The whole life blood of our country, and indeed the whole world, is flowing along the wire. What an incalculable part it has played in the development of civilisation throughout the whole world.
In another sphere of its activities, Boltons' produce has proved to be a bulwark to our country in days of great peril. I refer to the manufacture of copper shell bands. Millions and millions of these were made during the two World Wars, of all sizes. In fact, -I can remember them being made at the time of the Boer War when I was a boy at school.
In my early days the staple products at Boltons were wire, tubes and copper tape (which was known as strip). In addition to the single wire type, they produced enormous coils of both stranded cables and grooved trolley wire. This trolley wire was used in the overhead systems of the trolley 'bus undertakings and was sent to the big cities all over the world. As the years passed, the number and varieties of Boltons' products increased enormously.
The number and varieties of these was not fully realised, even by the oldest employees, until our Company commenced to exhibit them in the various famous exhibitions. It has always been a superb display and cannot but increase the demand for Boltons' products.
Most of the machined components are made at Boltons' Froghall factory, to which branch many of the departments have been transferred of recent years. I was sorry to see this development as, like all old Oakamoor workmen, I look on Oakamoor as the parent of the Company's other branches. This feeling is both understandable and excusable.
I said earlier there was still one steam engine working at Oakamoor. I refer to what is known as the "Piercer" engine. To see this fearsome monster in action is indeed an awe-inspiring sight. The ground trembles when it is in operation. A huge red hot cylindrical copper billet is placed in the machine. The piercing mandrel with its hard steel point is aimed at its centre then pandemonium is let loose. In a matter of a few seconds the copper billet, amidst smoke, steam and escaping water, is turned into a tube of the required size by the enormous pressure of the hydraulic ram driving the mandrel through its centre. All sizes of tubes up to 11.5 inches inside diameter were made in this manner. Of late years, not only copper tubes have been made by this method but tubes from the various bronzes, which are terribly hard in comparison with copper, have been produced.
To see this enormous monster either at rest or in action (coupled with what it is expected to do and what it does, in fact, accomplish) brings to mind the wellworn 'gag' of what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. Incidentally, I once heard a foreman who was renowned for making his men either pull or push to the full extent of their capacity, ask one the question "What would happen if an irresistible force met an inmovable object?" Looking the Boss straight in the face, he replied "Oh the answer to that question would depend on who the foreman
This machine which was surely a pioneer of its kind, has always been the backbone of Boltons' heavy tube industry. In addition to the tube manufacture, this huge steam engine was geared to enormous grooved rolls and used to produce the huge coils of trolley wire, each weighing over one ton. You will see that to accomplish this work the maximum power and efficiency was needed. To roll a bar of, say, 7 or 8 inches square down to a diameter of about half an inch, produced a huge coil of wire without any joints in it. All this is being accomplished to this present day, after 60 years or more, by our last remaining steam engine. It is by such a machine as this that Boltons' foundations have been well and truly laid and, taking the long term view, it is something which cannot be surpassed even by new and present methods.
A new branch of our present industry, developed in recent years at Oakamoor, is the production of what are known as copper Bus-bars and is worthy to be mentioned in this review. The heavy bars are manufactured at Boltons Froghall branch and then bent and developed to requirement at Oakamoor. These bars are used in the construction of new power plant which will be used in atomic developments. The great number of big orders successfully carried out in this class of work is most gratifying and reflects the greatest credit on all concerned. Boltons have a good start in this class of work in not only having the right tradition but, by reason of the skill and efficiency of their workmen and staff. I feel sure that this class of work will provide a great deal of employment in the years to come.
During the last 30 years of my career, 1 have been impressed by the great metallurgical advancement which has taken place as a result of the activities of the Research Department. In former years there were only 4 or 5 distinct brands of non-ferrous metals. Today there are many different classes of such metals, all with outstanding qualities of durability, hardness and conductivity. Boltons'
Research staff must have contributed a great deal to our country's metallurgical knowledge, in addition to its value to our Company.
I had quite a deal to carry out in applying the various stiff tests to these metals and also to applying and noting their various reactions to both hot and cold forging as required by our Chief Metallurgist. It was most interesting work and was indeed a rare occasion when one did not pass its severe test.
A recent happening which has just taken place at Boltons' Oakamoor factory is the construction and assembly of the cluster of ornamental scrollwork which has been fixed at the top of the spire of St. Giles' Roman Catholic Church at Cheadle. It is made of Boltons' phosphor bronze and such is practically immune against the ravages of time and weather (atom bombs permitting). It gave the greatest pride to both management and workmen involved and also, may I say, to the whole of the local inhabitants. That being so, I think this event is worthy of being recorded in both our local history and the Company's archives.
Earlier in my memories, I made much mention of the various facilities given to Boltons' employees for leisure and recreation. I must now bring my memories up to date by enumerating a few of the many pleasures provided by the Company for its employees at the present time, under the guidance of our present personnel management.
The Company maintains a grand Sports field at Oakamoor. Set amidst the most glorious scenery, it is an inspiration and a tonic to both player and spectator to enjoy its natural beauty. A few of the games are cricket, football, tennis, bowls and hockey. In addition there are the many social functions which take place in the recreation hut. It will be seen from all this that neither our directors or management have the profit motive in their organisation to the exclusion of everything else.
Welfare looms large at Boltons' factories. I must not forget also the Fire Brigade and St. Johns Ambulance Brigade, both of which institutions are unselfishly manned and worthily maintained. We have always had a Works Benevolent Society, managed by the employees, to which our employers have always donated the most generous sums of money.
I have not mentioned in my list the paid holidays which amount to about three weeks each year, because these paid holidays are commonplace to most firms today. The benefits I have mentioned are not given by many employers and are a measure of Boltons' interest in the happiness of their workpeople during their leisure hours. I would just like to comment on all this by saying all these things are most admirable and give cause for gratitude but, at the same time, I feel sure that the provision of work comes first in the blessings of any employer's activities and is of the highest good to all concerned. My observations have told me that the supremely happy man is he who can look upon his work as his recreation. I have known many such men at Boltons. I think it may be safely said that the large number of long service pensioners at Boltons gives the clue to the conditions of labour which have always existed in the Company.
And now, at the conclusion of my little booklet, as I take a quick look back into the past, it seems fitting to me that I should mention and record the guiding hand of the various managements through the years, not only as regards the prosperity of the firm, but also the well being of the old long service pensioners. The way the Company have improved the circumstances and changes which are bound to prevail at the retirement of these old employees ; the Long Service Certificates and Awards, the handsome Christmas present and the generous, recently increased retirement pension, which have done so much to increase the comfort and happiness of their old workmen. For all these things we are ever grateful. And furthermore, another aspect more important still. This pension packet as it comes each week gives the old men the evidence that, even now, they are not forgotten – that "somebody cares" thereby banishing all loneliness and giving them courage as they "keep right on to the end of the
I am sure that our present management will feel a glow of satisfaction in the great part they have played in all these blessings.
Mr. Enoch Berrisford was born in 1888 and died in 1976 at the age of 88. A craftsman of considerable skill, he was a Foreman for many years in the Blacksmiths' Shop at Oakamoor.
One story, not recounted by him within these pages, is of how he fell in love with the girl he later married. Mary was employed by Mrs. Bolton at Light Oaks but that august lady frowned on any village lads who dared come a'courting her domestic staff. But, in an era when workmen "touched their forelock" with great reverence to their "betters", frowns could not deter the young Enoch.
Donning his Sunday (and only) suit, he marched boldly up to the front door and, very firmly ringing the front door bell, asked to . see the great lady herself. Boldness paid off, and there were no more objections!