The swinging 60’s – hard but happy times

Mike (my youngest brother) and me. Formative members of the Style Counsel!

The day of incorporation, 16th October 1962, saw the World came close to World War 3, with Fidel Castro`s Cuba allowing Khrushchev`s U.S.S.R. to deploy nuclear weapons on Cuban soil aimed at John F. Kennedy`s U.S.A.. The armed U.S.A.F. fighters were airborne in readiness to strike back, thankfully the U.S.S.R. backed down, the cold war followed – a lot of negotiation, but thankfully no fighting!   James Bond`s “Doctor No” was being premiered in London, whilst on that day the futuristic “Telstar” from The Tornado`s was number one in the Charts. December 1962 was the start of the extremely severe winter where regular heavy snowfalls were commonplace, the night temperatures never rose above freezing until 6th March 1963, and the upper reaches of the Thames froze over! Many days and weeks were spent snow bumping shovelling and loading snow onto the tippers.

Our Feel of “Trusty” Thames Trader and TK Bedford Four Wheelers (1964). No air suspension in these seats…

By this time Colemans were the proud owners of International BTD 6 tracked loading shovels commonly known as Drotts. Wetherill Loading Shovels and Ford Thames Trader tippers all formed an impressive fleet for that era. A large industrial works, 4 and 5 storey high, with reinforced concrete floors, fronting Bridge Street off Broad Street, Birmingham bought a new dimension to scope of operation, a debuild from the inside, no external working space on any side. The work was all hand work, sledge hammers, shovels and wheel barrows, no fat on the men in those days, at the end of the day we would climb into one of the open tipper bodies, loaded or not, for a lift back to the yard, a well deserved beer on the way home was the norm, always at the Boss`s expense.

Of the twenty three employees some were classic characters, the likes of lorry drivers Jonny Pye, Tom Bishton, Jim Savage, Larry Stokes, Brian Onions and Wilf Candybuck. Plant operators Joe Campbell and then there was Brian Fidoe who was also foreman and fitter, Jack Deeley was demolition foreman. The lorry drivers were very hard workers, seldom late, never shying away from “giving a hand” always getting the loads done, whilst not abusing the trucks. It always amazed me how my Father managed to gather such a bunch in one place. Joe Campbell had to return home to Jamaica, for family reasons, then could not get back to this Country, even though my Father offered to pay his fare and guaranteed him work. Immigration would not accept the guarantees that were offered. We heard no more from Joe but missed his skilful attitude towards his work and his happy go lucky manner. Brian Fidoe was an extremely hairy man, Park Drive cigarettes were his main stay fuel, he didn’t get upset too easily, his solution to any problems was a deep intake of nicotine, then mutter “ah —- em” then off he would go doing whatever was required of him in his usual way. Jack Deeley was a hard but fair man, never late, Jack took the van home so he would call for my Father in the mornings at 06:00 for 07:00 start, my father gave him a key to the house so he could make the tea whilst he waited for the “Boss” to rise and sometimes shine.

To learn more about the current Coleman & Company team click here.

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