A `lucky` break?

On leaving school I managed to break my leg playing football, the job that I was due to start at Cincinnati the following Monday was gone by the time of my recovery some six months later. I was never going to make the starting eleven for my beloved Blues against the mighty Barcelona but I could play a bit and find the back of the net.

Oh how the mighty have fallen. Blues vs. Barca? More like Blues vs. Barnsley (and losing 0-5 at home to boot!)

My Father suggested that it would be a good move for me to work with Coleman & Company. I also thought it would be a good move, after all I did know a lot about the work, I could read drawings, I was very good at operating plant and machinery, my Father had taught me well, I had learnt a lot and knew a few tricks of the trade.

Within a week of my 17th Birthday I passed my Driving Test, I had previously bought a second hand Mini Van at Bromford Car Auction for £35:00 reg. no. 554 DOA. Then In 1965, I purchased a new Ford Escort Van reg. No. COX 429C, which on many a night was my home as work moved from place to place, I travelled the country. My Father owned a 3 Litre Rover (P6), his dream car, known as the working man’s` Rolls Royce

The Council moved us from our rented site in Station Road Stechford, (adjacent to our 1974 Site) to an open site in Albert Road, Stechford, adjacent to the railway bridge, no fencing, no running water, no toilets, but we had electric, a primitive home with wooden offices, built by my Father, and his friend Mick Murtagh, from demolition salvage, heated by a wood burning stove, here we stayed until 1974. Work was very hard but plentiful, prices were very competitive, money was scarce but people paid, life was hard but enjoyable.

My Father had continued to develop a good working relationship with John Laing Construction who had been successful with many new projects that were due to be started. New housing estates such as Cross Farm Road, Harborne, new Halls of Residence and Science Blocks at Birmingham University, high rise and low rise housing projects in Smethwick and Oldbury, excavated materials off site, hardcore from demolition imported onto site, the swinging 60`s were on truly rolling, everyone was busy the future looked good. One of the jobs in Shrewsbury saw a group of us in digs for four months or so. I was working in Bayston Hill Quarry loading trucks with overburden for the Riverside Development in Shrewsbury centre 2000 tonnes per day. It was a winter job, almost every night the machine cab would freeze on the inside as well as on the outside, every morning once the donkey engine had been started to start the main engine, the de-icing ritual would take thirty minutes or so! That’s before a 06:00 start, we did have it cushty in those days. Drafty cabs but no heaters, on a clear day we could see across to the Welsh Hills. The heavy rain would cause flooding of the River Severn, we would be cut off by flood water, not able to return home at weekends, but we persevered, as was the way, we knew no different.

The Coleman & Company motif. Signifying progression and moving forward.

A company motif became the `in thing` a new identity, `a must have` we decided that we must also go with the flow, our motif was designed in the kitchen of the house over a couple of evenings, in 1963. That motif, as designed, is still displayed on all of the Company`s sites, plant, vehicles, stationary etc. Jack and Norah Coleman, a good friend, Peter Rowe (who was a Site Agent with John Laing Construction) and me, set about the creative task. It was Peter who instigated the idea, a real team effort; we were all delighted with the end result.

To learn more about the history of Coleman & Company click here.

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