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Listen to Geoff Smith’s memories of a BU life.
Born in 1940 at 45 Cromford Street. Attended Melbourne Rd infants school, Charnwood St junior School -Just failed 11+ exam – Moat Boys senior School, and left in Christmas 1955
Started at BUSMC April1956 as an Electrical apprentice: RAF 1960-1964 (Air Radar Mechanic): Back to BUSMC in 1964 on Electrical Assembly.
1968-1974 Drawing Office Electrical Draftsman.
1974-1997 Commercial Office (Bottoming Dept) Maintenance, Installation, Technical Teaching, Trade exhibitions. 1997 Redundant.!!!!
Total 329 overseas visits to 29 different country’s in 23 years!!
Date posted: January 8, 20181 Comment
Christine Davies (nee Hampson) has shared with us the following wonderful memories of her dad, Cecil William Hampson (born 31.01.1903), and growing up in the shadow of BU. Days spent at the Mowacre Hill sports ground and evenings at the Institute.
“My father, Cecil Hampson, joined the BUSMC when he left school at 14 and became a skilled grinder making sample parts for shoe machines which were sent all over the world. His machine was near the end window on the corner of Ross Walk and MacDonald Road, so I could see him when I walked by. As a little girl I would wave to him through the window and often walked to meet him from work. We lived in Hunter Road and our garden backed up to the Institute in Hildyard Road so I would wait to hear the buzzer before setting off as there was always a mass exodus from the gate; a rush of bodies eager to get out of the noisy factory. They came out on foot, by bike and all manner of vehicles so Ross Walk was quite a dangerous place at leaving off time. In later years. my then boyfriend, now my husband of 55 years, actually had an employee land on the bonnet of his car as he tried to run the gauntlet. Fortunately, the car was at a standstill as it was impossible to progress down the road with the mass of bodies exiting from the factory.
“I was always interested in what my father actually did and I do remember being taken inside the factory on one occasion to see the machines. Whether it was an open day, I am not quite sure as children were not allowed anywhere near the factory departments. I was most impressed that my father used industrial diamonds to grind the metal but disappointed when I saw this black stub of rock which was an industrial diamond and nothing like the one I eventually acquired in my engagement ring.
“It was a large thriving business in those days with a great emphasis on the welfare of its employees. My father took advantage of the many social amenities on offer for him. he was a very keen and skilled greens bowler and weekends were spent at the Mowmacre Hill sports ground where he played and won many trophies over the years. As a child, and later a teenager, I made many friends of other employees children and we would play cricket or explore the acres of grounds making our own fun and enjoying the fresh air. The bowlers wives also joined together and would accompany the teams when they played away getting together for lunch somewhere in the towns we visited. I loved these occasions and always had another members child to share the day.
“As I got older I took a great interest in tennis and when the magnificent tennis courts were not being used by members, I was able to play with anyone who was available and happy to play with me. It was there that I met Mark Cox, the son of another employee and who became well known as a British international player playing in the Davis Cup and at Wimbledon. We would often play together, being of a similar age, although I have to say that members of the tennis section were not quite as welcoming towards us as other sections were. I always felt that they believed they were the more upmarket section. Mark was lucky because his parents both played tennis and he was soon spotted by the LTA and taken under their wing to be coached to become the player we knew in his mature years.
“As the days drew to an end the members would congregate in the sports pavilion at the grounds where there was an excellent bar. Most people brought a light supper with them and the evenings often ended with a singsong. On special occasions the whole population would get together and bring items of food so that all sections joined together for a party. This was particularly noticeable between the cricket and bowling sections of the club.
“My father also used the facilities of the Institute, it being just around the corner from our house. During the war, the building and the factory were camouflaged to fool the aeroplanes looking to bomb munitions factories. My father remained at home during the war as he was making munitions at the factory and his job had reserved status. He became an ARP warden often on night duty looking out for overhead activity and supporting the home guard. He would go to the Institute for a drink with friends or play snooker on the wonderful tables that were provided and as a little girl I attended the fantastic Christmas parties for members children. These took place in the magnificent ballroom which I later frequented on a regular basis for their Saturday night dances. My mother and father had always enjoyed the Old Tyme dances and which I was allowed to go to as a child. It was the highlight of the week. Each year I was allowed a new long dress and a velvet cape to attend these. I thought I was the ‘bees knees’. Later I was asked to sell tickets for the modern dances and given a free one if I sold 10 each week. These tickets were greatly prized by my friends because the facilities were so good so it was never difficult to sell 10 each week. It was there that I met my future husband who had been invited by a close friend.
“My father continued to work for the BUSMC for almost 50 years having been a member of the Quarter Century Club, but had to retire just short of this due to ill health thereby missing out on the gold watch given to employees with 50 years service. By that time I was married and had moved to Worcester where my husband was an architect and I was a Headteacher, so my parents sold their house in Hunter Rad and moved to Malvern to be near us so we could help if needed when my father wasn’t well. They lived for a long time in Malvern which my father loved, their bungalow having views of the Malvern Hills, but eventually came to live with us as he needed more help. However, in spite of failing health, he survived happily until the age of 86 still talking about his days with the BUSMC which had a great influence on his life. I was really saddened when I learnt that the company had finished altogether. It was then one of the few companies that knew how to look after its employees and had a happy workforce. I am afraid these are now few and far between.”
Date posted: November 26, 2017No Comments
Maarten Beijen found this beautiful oil can on a market in Romans sur Isere, France, last Sunday.
Date posted: July 11, 2017No Comments
One of the main organisers of the BU History Group is Paul Gill. Paul has been diagnosed with dementia and is part of a campaign to encourage research into the condition. Please watch the video by clicking the link.
Below is a letter published in the Leicester Mercury last month from Dave Tipton in which he pays tribute to Paul. He tells about Paul’s crucial role in the seven year struggle, and ultimate victory, by BU pensioners to win back their pensions after the company went into administration in 2000.
Date posted: May 9, 2016No Comments
I worked in the IVI works as a Tack and Nail maker and also as a utility man. If someone was away l would fill in for them. I found this old forklift truck license about a fortnight ago.
Date posted: April 22, 2016No Comments
Ray started with BU in 1945, aged 14; mostly running errands around the factory.
He left to do national service and returned afterwards, to the Tool Room, where this photo was taken in the mid 1950s. Ray’s still got all that hair – Just a different colour now!
Date posted: March 21, 2016No Comments
Val worked in O and M data preparation between 1958-66. These were pre-computer days and the below is one of the wages cards Val would have to punch in data on.
Here is Val in 1960, back row on the left, with the rest of her department. Next but one along is Ann Brearly, one of Val’s best friends, and she would love to get back in touch with her. The section boss was Betty Bancroft, and she appears on the front row, far right.
Date posted: March 14, 2016No Comments
For Sale – Cutting Press0
Western Australia again. Donna has written “I have this cutting machine which we were using to press out carpet and vinyl samples. As you can see in the pictures it has one of your identification plates.
I no longer need this machine. Can you please tell me what else it can be used for and how much it is worth as I would like to sell it. Also, would you know of anyone looking for one? I am based in Perth, Western Australia.”
0423 623 752
Date posted: February 9, 2016No Comments