BNC Text G4N

Lockmaking in Willenhall: conversation with Dick Brown, lockmaker. Sample containing about 10262 words speech recorded in leisure context

5 speakers recorded by respondent number C193

PS21S X m (m. glasson, age unknown, interviewer) unspecified
PS21T X m (Dick, age unknown, lockmaker) unspecified
G4NPS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
G4NPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
G4NPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 091701 recorded on 1986-08-03. LocationWest Midlands: Willenhall () Activity: Conversation with Dick Brown, Lockmaker

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (G4NPSUNK) [1] I think that's the right
Dick (PS21T) [2] Born at hundred and twenty two Willenhall.
[3] One of a family of six and me elder brother was ... me bro me dad had a little business in the keys in and er they were hard times and me elder brother ... we used to go and work for him because me dad said he must and er from, after school I used to go and perhaps do the errands or a bit of filing, the odd jobs and all that sort of thing and I grew up with locks and keys and files from twelve, even before I left school.
[4] I didn't leave school till I was fifteen.
[5] I said to me mother, I ain't going to work for me dad like our Albert did.
[6] I'm going to get a job on me own.
[7] And we had a neighbour named and he'd worked at E T N S all his life and had some influence and I mentioned it to him and he asked me, asked me if he could find me a job.
[8] He asked the masters and they said you can come for an interview.
[9] I went for an interview at E T N S in now where it is and er they said can you start today and I said no.
[10] er, so er ... no that wasn't ... no [...]
m. glasson (PS21S) [11] Started at [...]
Dick (PS21T) [12] Started at that's right, yes [...] and er ... I did and er they put me in the machine shop filing keyhole [...] and [...] Those times they had to be all cast over the rim locks and all that, now they've made for us and all that.
[13] But er I did two or three hundred, four hundred, five hundred a day and I got fed up on it and I said to the gaffers one day, if you don't change me from this job I'm leaving, so they says oh we don't want you to do that, best filer we've had.
[14] So a fellow named Mr worked at he was a neighbour, I got talking to him he says I'll mention it and you can come.
[15] I got this job in the machine sh in one of the lock shops and er [...] for a fellow, I worked for him and er after I'd been working for him they wanted me to work for somebody else but this fellow wouldn't let me go.
[16] He says he's, he's my bloke, he's gonna stick with me.
[17] So I had to work with him till I was about twenty or twenty-one or something like that, you know.
[18] Then I was able to er ... go for my own self, you know and er I went on doing locks, one thing and another, best I could and all that sort of thing and I [...] worked for a, a bloke [...] what was in there er be a little bloke but he was the best locksmith in the shop and I went to help him and er ... he used to give me all the [...] to do and this and that and the other.
[19] He had separate orders, each locksmith and at this time I'd done all the ord whatsit er [...] and this and that and the other and I said what's next?
[20] He says there ain't nothing else next and er so er I stood there and I said [...] this, kind of like this I've gotta do something so er ... I went er to pick sommat up down the back ... but before that he said, here you are, he says I put these ready all you gotta do is put the screws in those [...] locks you know, [...] like.
[21] And he says, I says listen, young man, the locks [...] I ain't gonna put them in, and this is true, and he said well if you won't do that you'll do nothing else at all.
[22] So I stood by the vice for quite a time and then I went to pick something up, turned round, told you, you do that you'll do nothing else.
[23] So ... I left and er went out the shop.
[24] I asked the gaffer I says can I get out?
[25] He says you're [...] out and I ... not yet I said.
[26] Well, I went home and I got another job and it, then I went back, I says can I have me card?
[27] He says yes if you're paying me a week's wages and I says I can't do that.
[28] He says, well then, he says you could or you couldn't you haven't served a week's notice.
[29] It's one or the another.
[30] So I had to serve a week's notice and I went down this er ... what's the name of it?
m. glasson (PS21S) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [31] where I went to work down there and in a month they put, it was amongst a shop of ... about sixteen men and they all had separate orders and the men had got little lads working for them, you know.
[32] But there was a foreman in the shop, but these did their own job er and er in the ... about three or four weeks, and I'm only a kid, erm they had me doing separate jobs you know, not for a gaffer or anything and er they used to, they give me odd jobs as, you know like, to help the men and er it went of like that in till I was eighteen or nineteen, well twenty, that time you were, day, become a man.
[33] Er one time the locksmiths had a rise from ni eighteen, twenty to twenty-one a man, it was a big rise but the locksmiths' union they altered it from to twenty and a half, twenty-one, twenty-one and a half, three rises before you went from a lad to a man's raise, you know.
[34] Well that happened and er I was man and er ... they er brought me all the odd jobs that was going about and they used to go down the warehouse and er there was a fellow there, well a woman more than anything, know'd where every thing was and in no time at all they showed me where the things were and er I er, young, it was in my memory, and in no time at all the men in the shop used to come and ask me to get them something from out the warehouse for this and that and the other.
[35] And in no time at all erm they were all more or less depending in some small way on me, and I was just absolutely lapping the situation up, you know what I mean, just suited me fine.
[36] And er ... after a time, they wanted to know if I'd take complete charge and I said well yes I said, but what are the men gonna think?
[37] And they said we don't mean to be over the men, but what we mean is for you to come down the office, no what the office wants as regards orders, and be responsible and pass them out to the men who you'll think who'll do the job best and all that, and that's what we mean.
[38] So I said alright, I'll do that, and I did.
[39] And it meant that I had free access to the whole of the so much so, I had a key to the bottom of entry in er access to the firm and I could get in when I liked.
[40] They put complete trust in me you understand what I mean?
[41] And er I'd got a key to get in from the works into the office once I was inside, but that was access to the works [...] you know and er I er ... I en I enjoyed it more or less and I must say the firm, to some extent, looked up to me and I'd only got to have a damned machine stop, where the girls was working on this machine, and the bobbin shop and all that sort of thing, and I was able to go look er, down and say look here I want this.
[42] Well, whatever they was doing, they'd drop and do whatever [...] I said it, and it was the same with the bobbin shop, you know.
[43] Mind you these was instructions from the office to me, telling me what I, what they wanted and I had to carry it out.
[44] And er, then I should go to the bobbin shop and ask them if they could get these done today and er, well we got this on, I said no but I, we want it [...] if you could leave them on one side and erm ... I used to er ... I, I became, if I might say so and I'm not boasting or bragging or anything, Michael, I'm trying to tell you the situation as it was and er I was a very important man to and er they er ... got me er at one time to er figure out, they, they used to make what was called Woolworths locks.
[45] It's rather surprising to you, but they used to sell them in Woolworths for sixpence.
[46] they had to sell them for three and threepence, three farthings.
[47] ... And they were sold in Woolworths for er sixpence.
[48] Er you can't imagine this I don't suppose, but nevertheless it's true and in a time, the men in the shop ... they was mass-production, you know what I mean and they wanted this or that or the other, well I had the authority to go down the machine shop and tell them, look here, so and so wants this you do that.
[49] And we had four casters ... in the works and I had to go and sort out the, I'll tell you about the [...] find the castings that these men wanted for their lot, take them down to the ... castors and tell them in priority which I wanted, you know and er all that sort of thing and erm I hadn't used to do any, making [laughing] any locks [] hardly at the end, you know I had, I had before but er if I might say so, er I became mo the most important man on the factory, you know.
[50] And er I never heard or had any more ways than ordinary.
m. glasson (PS21S) [51] This was in was it?
Dick (PS21T) [52] Yes, that's right in That's er, that's where it was, my lad and that was the entry as I used to get access from remembering it ain't quite like it was now, my lad.
[53] But there was a big door, well I used to get in the entry from, with an ordinary key, used to go up the b up the op big opening and open the big doors from the insides, you see what I mean, for the rest to come in.
[54] And erm there was half a dozen shops and [...] quite a few, spent most of me life there.
[55] I le I left there starting to work on me own.
[56] As a matter of fact, there was about, I got four month in this one particular shop and there became sixteen men, in this shop, that was working for me and er ... er we, I instituted a bonus scheme.
[57] Oh two or three years before, only it turned out, after a time, that the men were earning more money than me because I, the bonus, you understand, it was a good thing for the firm, it was a good thing for the men.
[58] It was a bad thing for me, strictly speaking, because the men became as they was earning more money than me and this is complete fact.
[59] Erm I had a go at one of the gaffer's.
[60] I said look here, you've put me in a job I reckon I've done it alright, the only thing is it's me that is the worse off now.
[61] I says I'd like a rise.
[62] They said oh ... that's alright.
[63] Well, it came to the [...] and it was in the shop and they said what do you want?
[64] And I said a Pound ... and they said what?
[65] I said a Pound.
[66] They said we'll give you five shilling and I used this very, very [...] I said you can stick that up th wear it in your arse ... and that's the truth.
[67] And they looked like that and I says, what, I says, they've caused these men to earn all this money [...] I says they're earning more money than and that's all you're gonna offer me?
[68] And it brought about the bridge, Michael.
[69] I said
(G4NPS000) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [70] I said er, Irene come from Manchester.
(G4NPS000) [71] [...] nothing at all.
Dick (PS21T) [72] No, nothing at all about the lock and two years after closed and it was because of this because the men on the phone told me so and er anyway brought about the bridge and er ... I er ... accepted it, you know what I mean, it was that was it, I'd done it myself.
[73] But I was walking in the market place, shortly after, only about just over a week after, and I met an old fellow who had retired from Hello Graham!
[74] What you doing?
[75] Not much ... I says no [...] I'm out of a job.
[76] He says what!
[77] I says you hear what I said I've got [...] I explained a bit to him he says, I tell you what, there's something going down [...] He says they don't make nothing there, he says, but they buy anything and everything.
[78] He says it's come to my knowledge cos er they want this and that and the other.
[79] So he says you ought to go down there, you can mention my name.
[80] So I went down and Mr at that time was Mayor of Willenhall, a very influential man, and he was er over and er his son had to became in charge, but anyway I went to see him it was Mr and er about it and he says er well we got er a order for four locks here, he says er I wonder if er you could quote me for them?
[81] I says, well I'll have a look and quote.
[82] I, I says, I'll let you know sometime today or tomorrow and er ... anyway, he was expecting me to say at least two or three or four weeks you know er because I'd put the situation I had no tools, no nothing and erm I er had a look at it and I thought what I could do, and I says I can let you have them in a week.
[83] ... What!
[84] He says, I can, I can let you have them in a week.
[85] He had an old brew house there and on the side of the sink there I built a good staunch bench [...] about like that square, put a vice on it you know.
[86] And I'll say this now, they was in business there, nextdoor, and I knew them like that, they says any machinery [...] come here and use it, and they'd got shears and all that sort of thing, and with their help, you know, I had these four locks and did them and took them down in no time to m to er, to and they was flabbergasted because of the quickness of them, you know, and they says er we can always find you sommat to work if er this is the case.
[87] So I er carried on with what they found me with this [...] in the brew house [...] and then er where did I go from there?
(G4NPS000) [88] You went [...]
Dick (PS21T) [89] Then I went, that's right me
(G4NPS000) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [90] I would've, me brother and I would've got a pub in erm excuse me asking these questions because it's a bit vague, you know
m. glasson (PS21S) [91] [...] that's fine, don't worry
Dick (PS21T) [92] and er
(G4NPS000) [...]
m. glasson (PS21S) [laugh]
Dick (PS21T) [93] and er in the piece of property at the back of the pub, down the opposite side of the road, down a lane you went on to and there was a football field, couple of football fields there and prior to this, they'd have to [...] if they could use this little place as a stripping room and he said yes.
[94] Well ... when he said I could come it was er September.
[95] So I worked down here and nights up there preparing it and all round this, this place was coat hooks and that, where they all hung their things and I had to knock them down, you know what I mean, and fix me own benches up and er I'd got a little treadle lather and er sufficient for me to start.
[96] And then, after a time, we er had the er electricity took up the yard and into the shop and then we was able to buy a little [...] machine you know what I mean and it went from there.
[97] And I supplied, ooh couldn't tell you the firms.
[98] As a matter of fact a fre fellow named lived in here and he was a traveller to er ... George he's one of the best, biggest rim lockmakers in the town, anyway, they're on this erm now and er ... he was going round for orders for regulars of his, for his firm and somebody, one day, asked him look here, we've got a little awkward job here, you know anybody the can you do it?
[99] Oh he says we couldn't do that he says that now, he says I couldn't get that done for you.
[100] But after a thinking he says listen, leave it with me, I'll see what I can do.
[101] So they did that and he came and sorted me out.
[102] I dunno how he knew about me.
[103] But he came and sorted me out and I asked, I said I'll see what I can do and I got hold of it and I did it for him.
[104] And he was bringing orders right, left and centre off of his clients.
[105] England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales Michael, no doubt about it.
[106] And in no time at all, I didn't have to ask for jobs, I'd got more than I could do, you know and er I was still, very well taken care of in the shop.
[107] It was a lovely shop, bought it up here up But, me brother left the brew left the pub and er it meant that I had to get out you know.
[108] Well with about forty visits to er ... Walsall, the council and different other ... departments
(G4NPS000) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [109] Yes, that's right love.
[110] Two friends of mine and they says er c can we find you a place in our that's right love.
[111] Er Arthur and er played for Walsall football club, Arthur but er they, little shop there.
[112] I cleared that and fixed the vice up and they said I could do that and I used the [...] and that in their place and er then they had to [...] quit the premises completely, didn't they?
[113] I mean they'd got to be out for er couldn't tell you, Christmas or something like that.
(G4NPS000) [114] Poor Mr died and
Dick (PS21T) [115] Mr
(G4NPS000) [116] they had to come out and
Dick (PS21T) [117] Arth Arthur Arthur had retired.
[118] His pal his workmate was retired and a few months after, Arthur died, so it left me the one and the owners of the property, they give me notice to quit and no messing about er and when I talked to them, they give me twelve months, rate free, to erm ... get out.
[119] And as I say, I was able to get in touch with me brother and fix this little shop up there and er no I've said that I've er, I've er
(G4NPS000) [120] You don't come [...]
Dick (PS21T) [121] Eh?
(G4NPS000) [122] You don't come [...]
Dick (PS21T) [123] [...] famous London fair.
[124] But er
(G4NPS000) [125] The ship that the Queen sailed on and Princess Elizabeth [...]
Dick (PS21T) [126] I'll tell you about that in a minute and then er ... I er had to go about forty times for permission.
[127] That side of this ro [...] industrial, this side is residential and that's strict, you know what I mean.
[128] But this premise was there at that time and by ... oh I had to go to a great extent on a number of visits and they er ... granted it me on compassionate grounds and there's er I was only looking in the back of there the other day and there's one there now.
[129] Cos there's er due to retire d in, in nineteen forty-two, nineteen eighty-two, a three year licence to own that premise there.
[130] You know, this is how it was first and I only come across that but, how it went, they felt I was genuine I suppose and they could trust me and they left it as it was and I had me own building.
[131] I had er I sent the dimensions to the firm at Oxon and er I had to go to the bank and borrow the money, because you see the money I paid [...] if I don't pay cash I'd gotta have six months delivery.
[132] And they er, I ordered this the one Saturday and two weeks after they come and put it up.
[133] That was how it was, two weeks after and er
(G4NPS000) [134] It was otherwise six months if you don't pay cash.
Dick (PS21T) [135] If I don't pay cash and er been the best thing I ever done and its been sufficient, you know what I mean and er all the people, there ain't nobody in this town that I ain't worked for, sometime or other.
[136] All the odd jobs they've sent to me and my stock-in-trade was special-purpose items or customers' requirements.
[137] I never ever had a running line as I could offer anybody, although you know when the museum come, when I had orders for two or three dozen.
[138] If I had an order for thirty-six I'd make thirty-seven, you know what I mean.
[139] Cos, in case there was a mistake and [...] on one side and I, and I had quite a number of things accumulate in that way you know.
[140] But I never ever had a running line, although they did ... have an order for so many like that and I'd keep the patterns and the gages and if they wanted any more later on, you know, I used to do that sort of thing for the sake of me customers and all that.
[141] And er ... they er ... went around the town and if anybody wanted anything, it, this applied to local householders and all that sort of thing.
[142] When they was doing the decorating and that and a lock went wrong oh take it down to Dick and er they'd bring it and whatever I was doing, however important it was, just because they'd be finish the decorating at night and they wanted to put the lock back, I'd drop what I was doing and do this for them.
[143] And I was gonna tell you this.
[144] I don't know whether you'll think I'm boasting but that isn't the case, but I never ever regretted it and it [...] a great deal of respect for me, you know and I could see that and did appreciate it and I know the people appreciated it just the same and erm ... it's gone on from then till now but about, I retired in seventy-three, I was sixty-five and I said I'd only do what anybody wanted for me, cos they had me in for the tax and I never ever heard [...] twenty-one I think it was or thirty-one [...] in come and I'd go before I could satisfy them at Walsall but er I'd got, not got enough money to be taxed in the bank, which was true.
[145] [...] please understand me, but no thousands of Pounds is er taxable, see what I mean they've never, I should never applied and they had to send about oh above twenty returns, yearly return.
[146] I was up till three o'clock in the morning, very often, getting these prepared because they wanted them as quickly as possible, you know and er ... er ... it was the same when I, I don't know when ...
(G4NPS000) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [147] Mm?
(G4NPS000) [148] Where are you now?
Dick (PS21T) [149] Yes, well er I was saying er ... it was this Mr I think it was, but it was to do with er a big firm in at the time and they wanted er some locks at Liverpool
Dick (PS21T) [150] There was a big firm in Liverp Birkenhead and there was a big firm in London.
[151] It was er international company sommat like that Ching and er ... they asked me about it and I said I'll see what I can do.
[152] So er what was it er?
(G4NPS000) [153] You, you made them [...]
Dick (PS21T) [154] And er, that's right and they told me what they wanted and er that's right, there was a hundred and fifty-five locks.
[155] Five different kinds for different parts of the ship.
[156] About thirty in each suite to differ and a master key and ... as I say there was five suites and they had to make a key that'd open everyone of the fifty-five.
[157] Yet, there was five separate master keys to each suite.
[158] This is applied because of the wards, you understand what I mean.
[159] I had to keep more or less the leverage more or less the same because you couldn't differ them and er I er had that job to er do for and er it was the H M S Gothic and they was going to South Africa and er when er they was on, in the middle of South Africa on the coast [...] one of the royalty died.
(G4NPS000) [160] Queen's father.
m. glasson (PS21S) [161] George the fifth
(G4NPS000) [162] Her father.
Dick (PS21T) [163] Her father died and they had to come back from their, this particular [...] and come back.
[164] But I made their ... locks for H M S Gothic.
[165] Hundred and fifty-five locks, five suites, thirteen a suite approximately and er a master key to each suite and a gras grand master to take the whole lot.
[166] And there was some sliding door locks and some er lift-up locks.
[167] Erm some of the doors slide, like backwards and forwards, and some swung on hinges which is er totally different, do you understand?
(G4NPS000) [168] He used to [...] at his brother's shop.
Dick (PS21T) [169] But ... it was my ... it was my [...] customers' requirements.
[170] This is what they wanted and I undertook to do it and I tell you, all me life I've been able to and have done that.
[171] Yes
(G4NPS000) [172] I know you hadn't finished them had you when they was ready to set sail.
Dick (PS21T) [173] No
(G4NPS000) [174] And they sent a big [...] from down there
Dick (PS21T) [175] Oh ah
(G4NPS000) [176] Doctor had to fit, fetch a little parcel [...]
Dick (PS21T) [177] Yes, when they was fitting them on the H M S Gothic they sent, they [...] Birkenhead and I asked if they, so I stopped work, all Saturday and this, this er big er [...] were it?
(G4NPS000) [178] Yeah
Dick (PS21T) [179] From Birkenhead to take these two three lots and he could put them in his [...] but anyway, they were all gonna be done
(G4NPS000) [180] [...] when he were down the town hall.
Dick (PS21T) [181] They, they were all done and it's coming back clearly now.
[182] This is perfectly true and he thought he'd be back the same day and he wasn't.
[183] But because he wasn't, I worked as hard as I could until dark, about night time, to get them done for the next day.
[184] And he says well, I can wait till tomorrow, better than going back and coming again.
[185] So er I went down the Red Lion in Willenhall and fixed him up for a night's dosh, didn't I, and the driver and then er I worked on, worked on and on and was able to get these er done for him to take back to fit this ship.
[186] Cos it was due to sail on the same day, on the Sunday, you know what I mean and er it was these locks as I'm telling you about and her ... a very, very famous firm and er my correspondence come from London because he had offices was there, you know and erm ... our erm ... I've been at the service as I, if I might say so, but in most people it's surprising how it get's round and er ... the jobs that I've had to do.
[187] They come once from Tetnall church.
[188] It er they'd had a fire there and they wanted to know if I could replace the lock.
[189] I said certainly.
[190] Well, they'd got the skeleton that wanted a big brass lock but er oh [...] you know, lovely and er it was more trouble getting the thing through the pan to get er the case than putting the insides in it, if you follow what I mean.
[191] But it was for the lock from the people, you know and he, he got round like this, and this is the God's truth as well again, he'd come to me from America and er they, I had to make locks for certain people they called them statos, status symbols there, in their own houses, you know, where they put this lock on and anybody [...] as he's got one like that, you know and from America to Dick in Willenhall to make them.
m. glasson (PS21S) [192] We've, we've got some
Dick (PS21T) [193] But this is the truth,Mi Michael.
m. glasson (PS21S) [194] We've got some of those big gate locks as well, you made one of
Dick (PS21T) [195] Have you?
m. glasson (PS21S) [196] those as well, yes that, that you, you made, yeah
Dick (PS21T) [197] Yes
m. glasson (PS21S) [198] Yeah
Dick (PS21T) [199] Yes, yes well as I say, you're coming into the shop and I don't know what was in now I couldn't tell you, but anyway
(G4NPS000) [200] And the lighthouse locks you made
m. glasson (PS21S) [201] Yes, yes the lighthouse locks.
(G4NPS000) [202] The lighthouse locks, yes
Dick (PS21T) [203] Oh, the lighthouse locks that was wonderful.
[204] I made lighthouses, locks for li lighthouses all round the world, Michael.
[205] This is the truth my lad and the first I made for was for the that, just off Canada, is is New Foundland?
[206] New Foundland there, there was a lighthouse there and er because these people worked together, you know.
[207] It's the same as everything and everybody and because er they were satisfied with it, they wanted some more and they took the old lo lock off and put some more on what I'd made, see what I mean.
[208] And I made locks for lighthouses, I'm not boasting my lad, and they'd li locks, locks for lighthouses pretty near all round the world.
[209] And onto ou round Australia and that and I mentioned I started in New Foundland, yes.
(G4NPS000) [210] Used to be lovely to go on a trip with him.
[211] [...] big er houses, you know.
[212] You'd lose him when you got inside, he'd be examining the locks on the doors.
Dick (PS21T) [213] [laugh] Ah
(G4NPS000) [214] I'd say where, where'd you go?
[215] Oh, he's looking at that lock there.
m. glasson (PS21S) [216] [laugh] You, you mentioned also a bit once, when I came before, about the erm the, the lock for the cricket ground.
[217] Was it Lord's?
Dick (PS21T) [218] Oh yes
(G4NPS000) [219] Lord's, yes
Dick (PS21T) [220] I made four locks for the gates on Lord's cricket ground er and when I'm telling you this, and practically without exception, they must've er got to know me and they come for what they wanted.
[221] Couldn't really tell you what it was now, but I made four locks for Lord's cricket ground.
[222] There was four gates on the ground apparently.
[223] They was gate locks.
[224] You wouldn't call them like flashy locks or [...] you know, like mortice as you fit in the door or anything like that.
[225] It's what the customer required, gate locks.
[226] They'd gotta be secure as you could imagine and er not easily ... picked, if you follow what I mean and er yes, made I made four locks for Lord's cricket ground.
m. glasson (PS21S) [227] Did, did the big companies like Parks and, and Yale and so on.
[228] Did they come to you at all?
Dick (PS21T) [229] Yes they did, but very, very ... seldom.
[230] They er they used to come at the first, and I'll tell you this and I, it's my opinion, they got one of their own men ... er I'd foxed them off, you know what I mean, to do their own odd jobs.
[231] It was much more convenient than putting them out, see.
[232] But I have worked for the Yale and Parks's in the very first instance, yes.
[233] Why, do you want to say sommat then, what?
m. glasson (PS21S) [234] When , when you were working at what sort of lock were you making there?
[235] Was this, this was the coin lock, coin- operated locks, was it?
Dick (PS21T) [236] Er well, they made.
[237] The re the essence of was they made more or less the customers' requirements.
[238] Now, the Yale and Union locks [...] they'd got a certain type of locks that they produced and it was all done with a system, you know what I mean and more or less come to assembly and er they did that.
[239] But these firms, as I said, they wanted this or that or the other and with er because of this fellow Mr he did nothing to get it out of his so it just happened, you know what I mean.
[240] And I'll send that to Dick and he'll fix you're up and saved them going to the lot of trouble on their own er ground.
[241] Money was, particularly, no object, you follow what I mean, people in that kind of business.
[242] I never ever charged enough, never ever charged enough, but they said Dick will fix you up, you know.
[243] And their odd jobs, they'd probably got men in their own factory to do it, but no they sent them to Dick ... and I er used to oblige.
[244] And er I was well known if I might say and proud of this Michael.
(G4NPS000) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [245] Well respected and they'd all er have a word me anytime and I could go into any office you know what I mean and er ... yeah.
(G4NPS000) [246] they was mortice locks weren't they?
Dick (PS21T) [247] we, we worked in my shop, that's what I was telling you about.
[248] There was quite a few men and made more or less the customers' requirements and when I was in charge, there was sixteen and they, about in two or three parties, er you know and they'd make different kinds of locks what was ordered and not particularly er mortice or rim er what the customer required.
(G4NPS000) [249] Didn't they make the slot locks?
Dick (PS21T) [250] Yes.
(G4NPS000) [251] That's what he wanted to know.
Dick (PS21T) [252] Yes and er I er ... they got me on that and I'd er seen a bit on it before hand [...] one way or another, but I went to a place and, and asked them if I could er ... see and er they showed me and explained it, the er the way to er.
[253] Cos you could put one coin in or two and er sometimes th there was halfpennies and pennies then.
[254] Well, you put halfpenny through, it,th th th the gap was too wide and it went right through.
[255] If you put a penny in, it was like that Michael, whereas a penny could [...] it come like that and held it.
[256] It moved two things which put it into operation, you know and er I could turn the knob and it'd get the whole thing going, it'd get you inside, it'd register that it'd been, when you shut the door, as soon as you shut, in the toilets, as soon as you shut the door the penny dropped down, see what I mean.
[257] It was, you opened it and come out and shut, shut the door and you'd lose the penny then they'd got to go through the same operation with another penny, you know what I mean.
[258] And er I erm I organised a lot of that sort of thing erm by er ... it was exact measurements and spindles and you know like [...] Erm yes, I couldn't remember a lot now but er ... a lot of people, if I might say so, used me you know, Michael, my knowledge and skill and I allowed them to and I'm not complaining.
(G4NPS000) [259] Well they're used to them slot locks on the toilets, aren't they?
m. glasson (PS21S) [260] Right.
Dick (PS21T) [261] Yeah
Dick (PS21T) [262] Where where did you learn most of your, your skills as a locksmith?
[263] Was it at or
Dick (PS21T) [264] Yes.
m. glasson (PS21S) [265] or bef before then?
Dick (PS21T) [266] Yes because I went to, I only had a few weeks at er and that was [...] and I wouldn't stick that.
[267] I says I want to learn sommat so I went to and I don't know what it was, whether it was my attitude, but they, they asked me to do this and I was so good at it, so they started finding jobs for me and it was at and I was anxious for knowledge, and I tell you took anything on, which is important and the big firms didn't.
[268] As a matter of fact, I'm saying earlier on, that the big firms send them to you know to er
(G4NPS000) [269] They were mass-production [...]
Dick (PS21T) [270] Whatever, whatever want or could get, oh bring it here we'll do it.
[271] They used to come to Dick see.
m. glasson (PS21S) [272] Wh what, what sort of hours did you work when you were at did they, did they change
Dick (PS21T) [273] Only or
m. glasson (PS21S) [274] over the years?
Dick (PS21T) [275] No, only ordinary.
m. glasson (PS21S) [276] And what were they?
Dick (PS21T) [277] Well, we used to work from eight to half-past five and then from eight to half-past twelve, fifty-two and half hours, when I started first.
[278] But er you know it come down to forty-six and usually only do about thirty-eight now that is, sommat like and er it's only half a week.
[279] But when I started it was fifty-two and a half hours a week ... yes.
[280] And er the half hour was er ... erm we had nine and a half five days, that was er ... from eight till half past five ... I don't know but it was fifty-two and a half hours, from eight till half-past twelve on a Saturday and er
m. glasson (PS21S) [281] Did, did you get breaks during the day?
[282] Were did you [...]
Dick (PS21T) [283] Oh yes
m. glasson (PS21S) [284] You did.
Dick (PS21T) [285] You always er
(G4NPS000) [286] About half past twelve [...]
Dick (PS21T) [287] You always had a I had a dinner-time, half-past twelve to half-past one, every day and er you was allowed to have a cup of tea.
[288] As a matter of fact, a lot of the firms provided the cup of teas, you could go and get one, you know what I mean.
[289] I think at that time you had to pay for it, but you could go and have ten minutes, sommat like that, and a cup of tea.
[290] It weren't er ... just all [...] you know, there was a certain amount of er thought attached to it and as I say, the [...] people was er ... accepted by the gaffers and er respected, you know what I mean.
[291] But there was always them as just wanted to come and do nothing and pick the money up and that's what they had to sort out the firms.
[292] And I, I don't think that's changed now, do you?
(G4NPS000) [...] [laugh]
Dick (PS21T) [293] I don't think it's changed but that has applied all the while, my lad.
(G4NPS000) [294] Yes.
Dick (PS21T) [295] Yes and er ... if I might s oh I er don't know [...] I've been to bloody shop meself ... but I ain't sorry about it, cos I've done what I've wanted to do and I've enjoyed what I've done and erm ... the authorities they get'd me that on er hardship grounds there, as I say, being on er residential premise and er they showed me great respect and er
(G4NPS000) [296] Too old to travel on [...] that's why they [...]
Dick (PS21T) [297] the local council, who, who, I wo, I call it used me but not in er whatsit sense, er it's helped, you know it's, it's helped them and er whatever, it's become well-known if I might say so, in locks, I'll go to Dick
m. glasson (PS21S) [298] Were, were there a lot of erm sort of small workshops like yours, a few years ago when you
Dick (PS21T) [299] There were
m. glasson (PS21S) [300] started up?
(G4NPS000) [301] There were [...]
Dick (PS21T) [302] There were.
[303] As a matter of fact, when I'm talking about, let me see er fifty years ago, there was one up at every back yard, that's the truth.
[304] And er ... [...] used to go.
[305] I'd got one [...] didn't I, that's right.
[306] But erm
m. glasson (PS21S) [307] What, why why do you think they, why do you think they've gone, so many of them?
[308] Why do you think they've disappeared?
Dick (PS21T) [309] Well, er the reason was erm technique and science and they'd, they [...] all the firms or who was in business had to make locks their own way, you know what I mean and use the best facilities they could get hold of, but science and progress came into being and they cou they made what you could call locks erm ... repetition.
[310] Er they had a lock, made it a good lock and sent it to all the clients and this is what we can supply, and it used to meet the needs of clients and they'd er they'd erm buy it and it kept them in business, you see what I mean?
[311] And then other firms did that and er they was the same people nearly, got their own lines and it was worse that was, so they got onto the same lines and er the competition became then financial
(G4NPS000) [312] There used to be [...] nearly every [...]
Dick (PS21T) [313] I say the competition then, later on became financial.
[314] Them as who could make it a bit cheaper see, and all that.
[315] But [...] you said erm certain things could be ... we had, had a machine once and you'd got to pull four or five handles.
[316] When you had pulled five handles there was an article produced.
[317] ... [...] each, each time you pulled a handle it did one job and er couldn't tell you really now what it was, you know but er you'd pull the five handles in a few minutes and the damn thing was done.
[318] And er ... another way'd cost ten times as much and that to produce.
m. glasson (PS21S) [319] Did, did you see much machinery being brought in while you were at ?
Dick (PS21T) [320] No.
[321] As a matter of fact, that what they were lacking in and we er we had a driller and er ... we had a driller and er horizontal lather for turning and a grinder, when I say grinder I mean emery wheel, and that's about all we'd got in the shop.
(G4NPS000) [322] Yeah, but it was old-fashioned wasn't it
m. glasson (PS21S) [323] So it was all ha hand work was it?
(G4NPS000) [324] Yes.
Dick (PS21T) [325] Yes it was, yes it was.
[326] When you went to the driller you'd gotta hold it in your hand or get a sommat, a gadget to hold the thing on, pull [...] put the drill in.
[327] When you had got to go to the emery wheel, you'd gotta hold the things and emery wheel them and [...] yourself.
[328] And er
(G4NPS000) [329] Oh yes, it was very old-fashioned [...]
Dick (PS21T) [330] when you wanted to do something with the keys or operate er horizontal, there was a machine and you had to go to the do it yourself.
[331] And each man, or perhaps been one or two men doing the one jo the one order and they was each responsible for their own and then [cough] you'd gotta put your name down sometimes for a machine you know.
[332] I'm on next, you know what I mean and er oh ah, old-fashioned time, yeah.
m. glasson (PS21S) [333] But it, it was a, it was a good place to work you think?
Dick (PS21T) [334] Oh I shall never regret Er I don't know but ... I'm just perhaps one on me own, but er it couldn't have been better for because I was a freelance and er I wanted to learn and wanted to get on and they allowed me, they allowed me to do what I wanted.
[335] I was very, very happy.
[336] Never ever had half as much wage as I really should've had and I say to [...] that's never bothered me.
[337] I've never ever ... I say this very proudly, been in debt and as long as I've earned enough money to live, I've never bothered to put any on one side strict, you know, strictly speaking and I've been happy to er live and er that's how I've lived me life.
m. glasson (PS21S) [338] Right.
[339] I think that's that, yep.
[340] [clears throat] Right.
Dick (PS21T) [341] But in the first instance, as I say we, I was one of six children and er I don't think there was one working while they was, I mean they was all born before there was anybody old enough to work, you find, that's [...] And our Albert, me dad had Albert up and he er never give me mother any wages for Albert.
[342] He used to give Albert some pocket money ... and he was satisfied, but me mother wasn't.
[343] And I said to me mother, I says look here, when I'm old enough to work I say's, I ain't going to work for me dad I shall get a job on me own.
[344] I says he ain't doing on me what he's doing on Albert.
[345] I says I sure of that and er I left and went and got into a row over it.
[346] But I went down Harold I tell you and got the job.
[347] I couldn't have gone to a better place because they'd got [...] most parts of the country and one thing and another and I fitted their bill to a tee.
[348] And they called me more or less er to do the odd jobs you know and in the brew house, as was here, I fixed, I told you once, I fixed a bench up, it was as tight as could be and put a vice on it and all [...] in here, this shop here, they says you can come in here anytime and do what you like and er
(G4NPS000) [...]
Dick (PS21T) [349] some friends at here, they er was in the woods line and er the gaffer, Ernie, we went through Little London School together, and he says anything we can do, anytime Richard, you've only gotta say.
[350] So I could always go up there and I used there little drill [...] for one thing and another in the first place and er built that premise for me there ... did and I did er
(G4NPS000) [351] [...] in the shop and
Dick (PS21T) [352] He used to go to a lotta places er that as knocked down or, well I couldn't tell you the kind of job, but often there was some locks on the premises was er, perhaps needed repair or he wanted them to be in [...] before he could leave the job and say here you are, that's the job done.
[353] And he used to bring anything and everything, and that's not joking, to me and er I'm proud of that.
[354] [...] I was able to accommodate him at each time, you follow what I mean.
[355] I'd make it me business to er yes and course it was to his trade good [laughing] jobs as he'd [] done for customers, had it done so well, they told somebody else and it brought in trade, see what I mean?
m. glasson (PS21S) [356] When, when you were working up the shop up the back erm where, where were you getting your, your su supplies from, I mean like, were you, were you buying castings, did you need to buy [...]
Dick (PS21T) [357] Oh yes erm er ... I er ... I had er ... what was the [...] what is it those in the ... you know [...]
(G4NPS000) [358] You used to have a casting [...]
Dick (PS21T) [359] Aye
(G4NPS000) [360] and er
Dick (PS21T) [361] [...] ... er
(G4NPS000) [362] Dennis
Dick (PS21T) [363] Dennis and Sammy er
Dick (PS21T) [364] Sammy and er
(G4NPS000) [365] You used to have your castings from there and then you have them off Ernie
Dick (PS21T) [366] They, I had them of Ernie oh that's er that's a good girl [...] Shilling a pound, brass castings.
[367] Now brass is a pound in, in weight now never mind about shilling a pound.
[368] Ernie
(G4NPS000) [369] Ernie house
Dick (PS21T) [370] the top of er there was somebody named was sold coal
(G4NPS000) [371] right on the corner by the, I believe the [...]
Dick (PS21T) [372] There was a Post Office on the corner opposite the Post Office chapel, Post er opposite the Baptist chapel and er up the back yard there, there was this premise, it was behind a pub called the Beehive and erm I rented it out there and er that was nextdoor to and the castings was a shilling a pound and er
m. glasson (PS21S) [373] They'd do, they'd do special one-off things for your would they?
Dick (PS21T) [374] Yes er that's been the essence of what I've wanted is er I've, I've had to have what I've wanted by hook or by crook, and I don't mean crook in a bad sense, I mean one way or another, you know what I mean and er I did job for the casters, same as they did jobs for me, you know and that's how I've gone through life, that is Michael.
[375] Helping one another and
(G4NPS000) [376] Three brass casters there?
Dick (PS21T) [377] You had three brass casters there.
(G4NPS000) [378] Had Dennis
Dick (PS21T) [379] And er
(G4NPS000) [380] Ernie
Dick (PS21T) [381] You see
(G4NPS000) [382] And then were [...]
Dick (PS21T) [383] I could perhaps take a little bit of paper like that and I'd find
m. glasson (PS21S) [384] But they were all local weren't they, anyway.
Dick (PS21T) [385] I'd find
(G4NPS000) [386] Oh yes.
Dick (PS21T) [387] I'd find something as er pretty near to what I wanted, you know and I could perhaps, and did, use what's called beeswax a lot, you know and er warm it up and ply it and put it onto er something to make it to what the shape I wanted, you know.
m. glasson (PS21S) [388] So you made, you made your own patterns [...]
Dick (PS21T) [389] And then the caster'd cast that, you know and another ca time, I wanted er a projection, you know and er I'd take a casting.
[390] Cos they used to have gates with er two or three inches apart, you know and I'd gotta have a projection.
[391] Well, I could go to the casting and asked him to put the pattern in and fire it for it, to cut the sand out like that, you know so that the metal'd run in like that and you'd got the big head as you wanted, you know and er it'd take you ... like castings [...] with the machine and all that sort of thing, it was all hand stuff you know and yeah
m. glasson (PS21S) [392] They'd they'd have to be filed before you used them, would they?
Dick (PS21T) [393] Oh I could go, used to get them on the emery wheel and er square them up with a pair of sliding gages.
[394] Michael, I've had to work very, very exact my lad ... and these things I'd got the sliding gages and put them on and they'd been the same at the front as they have at the back and that's the thickness as well.
[395] And when you've er loose them in the fore end or the front of the lock or do anything like that [cough] that article as it's in, when you lock it out it's gotta fit just as tight when it's locked out as when it's in.
[396] Which means it's gotta be exact all the way round, you know what I mean.
[397] And these are all part of er [...]
(G4NPS000) [398] [...] and have it trimmed up and then you can [...]
Dick (PS21T) [399] That's what I used to do
(G4NPS000) [400] [...] they'd gotta be as I couldn't go to them [...]
Dick (PS21T) [401] No
m. glasson (PS21S) [402] How, how did you learn to, I mean, looking at some of your locks, they're sort of very, very fine
Dick (PS21T) [403] Yeah
m. glasson (PS21S) [404] [...] I mean did you, did you learn this as you went on or did you, did you
Dick (PS21T) [405] No it was er it was er ... oh how can I say er I used me head and er, if you follow what I mean, and imagination and er I could envisage what, perhaps, people wanted, it was in my own mind and I'd make it up ... some way or another.
[406] You could call ingenuity if you like and er but it've, did apply my lad and er once you'd got one, you could have er one cast and dress it up and you'd got another one, you know what I mean.
[407] You make a thing as is gonna do the job and it's no problem then to get castings off it and all that sort of thing.
[408] But in, in a lot of instances, to answer you, I had to use me ingenuity.
[409] What I want and er how to get it.
[410] ... I couldn't tell you how, but it I, cos ... you'd, I don't want nothing, but when I did, I'd gotta use my ingenuity to get something that I could get one or two or a dozen or ten off, you know what I mean, and I gotta make it and a lot of times I made it out of wood ... which was easily er ... you know treated.
[411] Then you could get a, a piece of wood very, very rough, understand me and then [...] cast and then you could get the cast in down to exaction, you follow what I mean and then er you could what you want.
[412] But I started off wood, nearly, nearly in every instance.
[413] Cos they used to send me er l er orders, locks on drawings and six, six or sev six or seven pages and that's all I'd got to go in, see what I mean?
[414] Well I'd start with wood and er get something rough to work off and then, use me head as I say, get it down to the requirements on the, on the paper and then start to produce eventually, you know and er
(G4NPS000) [415] You used to have your keys off [...]
Dick (PS21T) [416] Eh?
(G4NPS000) [417] You used to have your keys off
Dick (PS21T) [418] Yes, Arthur
m. glasson (PS21S) [419] Oh I know [...]
Dick (PS21T) [420] Arthur in Eddington
m. glasson (PS21S) [421] Yes, yes
Dick (PS21T) [422] They're one of the keys, best keys men in, a friend of mine.
[423] He was a, we belonged to the same shed.
[424] He used to come to [...] and I was a member of Springbank for sixty years and er anything I can do Richard, you know.
[425] And I used to go up there and tell him what I wanted and as far as keys and anything like that, got sent to me he would.
[426] Erm, Horace, he's he was in the paper a short while ago, eighty-two were it?
[427] Horace Evans?
(G4NPS000) [428] Yes, I think so.
Dick (PS21T) [429] You know and he's eighty-two now and er that makes him about five year older than me but to tw I'm talking about twenty, thirty year ago, five [...] make no difference then, you know and we ha had the same understanding.
[430] He knew as he could come to me er he used to bring me lock keys of all sorts and er he could get the castings or the patterns or what it is like that and he knows I could fashion them to fit the lock and all that sort of thin and we were very [...]
m. glasson (PS21S) [431] So you'd, they, they they gave, they sent you the blanks, did they, and you'd work them up?
Dick (PS21T) [432] Oh yes, oh yes yes erm ... and I'm on about er ... [...] on about, for one thing, but you'd be surprised er it's the biggest and most elaborate trade of any in the world, locks and keys, I say that very firmly because er ... there's no limit, there's no extent and you, there might be required anything and as I say er I er ... I had these locks for the asylums and that, you know and er I thought I mentioned it before, I made fifty ... fifty locks all different and I had to number them and keep a record of them and er ... I had a, you had the keys on a wire, numbered one up to fifty and they was for big, big asylums, you know what I mean and er they could go in one ward, I'm on about places where they'd have twenty or thirty people, you know and er there's only one bloke could get in there.
[433] Be a different master key for the next ward and all that sort of thing.
[434] There was fifty and there was five levers and three lifts and I had to get a piece of paper and er make a, when you get one, two, three and then five you could have er three, three, two, one and five, four, three, two, one, you know what I mean?
[435] Then I could have two, a one, three and four three, two, one, five, do you know what I mean?
[436] And I had to make all these er computations out and er ... I made fifty ... that I thought nobody could pick.
[437] There was no [...] Michael, it's just only way,co mind you could only do these on one-sided because when you turn your key the other side, it's gotta be th exactly the same to do the job.
[438] But this was because it was one-sided, they used to lock it from the outside and there was a catch on the inside as they could put in.
[439] They only used to ever lock the door from the outside and er I er ... had to make er fifty and as I say, number them one up to fifty and er then they'd perhaps ... on a odd occasion they sent me an order for one, the number ... the number
(G4NPS000) [440] [...] and then, then your metal you used to have to [...] hadn't you?
Dick (PS21T) [441] Yes, yes ... yes [...] and er but erm that was one of the most famous in my opinion.
[442] It was only a one-sided lock, which is completely and totally different to an ordinary lock er working both sides, you see what I mean and er ... I er I'd got to er make a key, number thirty-nine ... just like that, see but I had it and I could find out what thirty-nine was and I could make them one and send it and knowing it would fit see and er when they had different people working there, you know staff, things like that, not a lot of orders but er somebody else come.
[443] They might want him or her to have a key, you know and er and just ran the keys up on a thing like that, you know what I mean, they was never out of the person's possession.
[444] It wasn't er, it wasn't good to leave them about, you know what I mean and er oh er ... yes it's been very important, if I might say so, certain things as I've had been called upon to do and I've been happy and proud to do it.
m. glasson (PS21S) [445] When, when you were working at were ... were, were, the union important at all, the, the Lock, Lock-making union?
Dick (PS21T) [446] Oh yes, I've al I was always in the union.
[447] As a matter of fact er yes I, I, I joined at sixteen on the union, when I was a, a kid and er I've always believed in it and I encourage others to do the same.
[448] And when I er ... went to go on me own er ... I still wanted to keep in the union and I went down the Locksmiths' union, which was in the market place, and they said they er we couldn't, we couldn't have you in the union if you go on your own erm there's another denomination or something, was something that you'd have to join or something like that and be on your own.
[449] Well er when I er, when I er, I couldn't remember much what it was now, but whatever the union fee was, when I started on me own to be er satisfied of cos of circumstances I might need money, you know, I thought it would say the union fee was a shilling, I had to pay one and six ... half as much as whatever it was and I did do.
[450] Never ever been out of a union er till I retired cos I always paid these fees and er ... yes.
m. glasson (PS21S) [451] You, you always felt it was er, an important thing to belong?
Dick (PS21T) [452] Well er I didn't want to be out of it or, awkward or off it or anything, if it was right, and I felt that it was right, I'd adhere to that, whether or not, you follow what I mean, that's how I've lived me life, Michael, yes.
m. glasson (PS21S) [453] Was, was Mr at the union in those days?
Dick (PS21T) [454] Yes, oh yes.
[455] You see until er er he lived in er you're on a about fifty or sixty years ago you know ... yes.
[456] I [...] we live in then, then up to Wellington, but he lived in you know and er ...
m. glasson (PS21S) [457] Were, were there any times when the union was, when the union was quite important?
[458] When, when they helped to solve a problem at, at Can you remember any instance?
Dick (PS21T) [459] Well er ... as I say, I've always been a union member but then when I was self-employed it was different and I kept me fees up for a, to somewhere I don't know what it was, but er when er ... yes, when er I was coming to come on me own and I went down the locksmith's to see about it and they said er, what did they say now, they said you couldn't do that, whatever it was, and er we'll have to do this and that and the other.
[460] And I er I had to er see a solicitor or something.
[461] Not er to pay but a bloke with knowledge to ask him what was my rights, you know and all that sort of thing.
[462] Changing from making locks.
[463] Changing from being employed to being self-employed, it's, it's a big change that is you and er, and er the union ... the union helped me and er told me what I could do and what I couldn't do and all that sort of thing.
[464] I had to pay some money, I just forget now, very little but er as I've said half a dozen times now, I always wanted to do what was right, you know, and I aim to do that.
[465] That's how I've er that's how I've gone through life, my lad, that is.